If you’re in the planning process of building a new brick home chances are you’ve spent hours poring over dozens of brick options, trying to find the right color for your house. One decision that often gets over looked is what mortar color to use.  80% of a wall surface is brick and the remaining 20% is mortar which means it can have a big impact on the final appearance of a house. With dozens of brick and mortar options available there are hundreds of possible combinations but certain brick and mortar combinations go together naturally, making the selection process easier.

Top Featured Image. The same brick is laid next to each other showing the dramatic of mortar color. Tufts House brick with gray mortar (left). Tufts House brick white mortar and sand (right).

Mortar Color

Mortar is a blend of cement, lime and sand.

Despite all the varied options of mortar color, gray is the overwhelming choice and accounts for about 55% of mortar sales volume.  Every manufacturers gray is slightly different, some are a cooler gray while others have a slight buff tint but they are all very close.  There are several reasons for its popularity.  Gray is the natural color of cement, allowing manufacturers to produce it without additional dyes or pigments, making it the economical choice.  Additionally, gray mortar works well with almost any color brick and has long been a favorite when coordinating pinks, grays and reds.

Mortar Color

Side by side panels of Chesapeake Pearl Oversize Tumbled brick.  The left has gray mortar and buff sand, the right has white mortar and white sand.

In recent years there has been a trend towards lighter colored brick.  Because mortar color is so important to the overall look of a home, the trend in brick was followed with white and off-white mortars.  White, ivory and porcelain are all white mortars that as a group accounts for about 18% of mortar volume.  Although extremely popular with white brick, lightly colored mortar also go great with darker colored brick and is helpful in bridging the gap between white trim or other light features on a house.


sand important in mortar color

White, neutral and buff masonry sands

Sand is the critical aggregate in mortar mix and can have a big impact on the final color of your mortar.  Typically, your choice of sands is limited to what can be found in your area since it’s plentiful and seldom shipped long distances.  If you are wanting a bright white mortar, you should source the whitest sand you can find.  For gray and darker colored mortars, sand color is less important and has a diminished impact on the final color.  The majority of mortar is mixed on-site but there are a few manufacturers that offer pre-blended mortar that is ready to use out of the bag.


The classic detailing of the home above features Old Yorktown Oversize brick, lite-buff mortar, white sand and is laid in a full-flemish bond.

Certain architecture and design also lends itself to particular mortar colors.  English cottages, colonial revivals, classic Georgians and other traditional types of architecture tend to look best when the brick is paired with beige, khaki or buff colored mortars.  Prior to modern manufacturing techniques, mortars tended to have more of an earth-tone which is why those colors are preferred for traditional and period architecture.

The khaki mortar gives the right panel an aged and softer look compared with the gray panel on the left.  Both panels feature Kennon House Oversize brick with buff sand.

While not as prevalent as other combinations, a developing trend in contemporary builds is for architects to match the brick and mortar color to create a monotone look.  The wide variety of mortar color make this possible with almost every type of brick.  Black brick and mortar as well as gray brick and mortar and most common but the application isn’t limited to those two.

mortar color

Spektra Black brick is paired with charcoal mortar for a striking, monotone look.

Now that you know the basics of brick and mortar color, start checking out homes in your area. See what brick and mortar combinations are appealing to your eye. Focus on narrowing down your selection to two or three options.  Once you have it narrowed down, we suggest having several small panels built on your job site that will show you exactly how the different mortars will look with your brick. From those panels, you can select your perfect combination!

Selecting The Right Brick

Click here to learn more about selecting the right brick.