Should I Paint my Brick House?
Have you been thinking about painting your brick house but are unsure if it’s the kind of DIY project you want to undertake? Before you whip out your roller and outdoor paint, there are some important factors to consider in tackling this extreme home makeover:
#1: Are You Painting the Brick on Your House’s Exterior?
Exterior brick, especially on older houses, is exposed to natural elements that can cause wear and tear that, in turn, affects your paint job. You have to take care when changing the exterior makeup of a wall.
The biggest concern with brick walls is the moisture that can enter brick through its pores, incomplete mortar joints, sills, copings, and other gaps.
#2: Are You Willing to Maintain It?
Brick is chosen as a building material due to its durability and built-in color, so for the most part, brick is not made with the intention of being painted.
Because of this fact, if you paint your brick exterior, you should plan to repaint it every three to five years, according to the Brick Industry Association.
Painted brick is just as difficult to keep clean as regular brick, particularly if you choose a light color, which requires regular maintenance to keep its appearance in tip top shape.
#3: What Condition is Your Brick In?
The condition that your brick is currently in should play a monumental role in your decision to paint your brick house. Brick that’s chipping, deteriorating, molding, or in otherwise poor condition would not produce a desirable result.
Typically these conditions signify a deeper problem with your house’s exterior, which should be addressed before you slap a single coat of paint on.
Paint blocks the natural pores on the brick’s surface, which only exaggerates existing problems. For example, efflorescence – the white residue that appears on older brick – are deposits of water-soluble salt buildup that form as a result of moisture inside the brick.
This can be removed with water and a stiff wire brush. But before you start painting, wait to see if it returns. If it does, there’s a bigger underlying problem that might need professional attention.
#4: Is Painting Brick a Permanent Change?
Removing paint from brick is not an easy process. Neither power washing nor sandblasting can strip away all the paint and can actually damage the brick.
Powerful chemicals have to be used and even then, the paint might not come completely off. This is a project you can take on yourself, but would require you to scrape every square inch of your home.
#5: Is the Brick Moisture-rich?
Brick, with its porous surface, needs to breathe and when you put a shell (like paint) over it, it can no longer do that. If there’s moisture trapped in the brick, it can cause severe structural damage. As that moisture goes through a freeze-and-thaw cycle, the paint on the brick’s surface can start to degrade as the moisture freezes from within.
Before the painting process begins, brick must be cleaned of dirt, mold, and mildew. This can be done with a power washer or, if necessary, you can sandblast to achieve an absolutely clean surface. Any amount of residual mold will just continue to grow.
Also before applying paint, you must allow the brick to dry thoroughly for several days. Even if it appears dry on the outside, water can stay trapped inside the brick, which will cause the paint to bubble and peel once applied.
According to House Logic, there are, however, some situations when it’s ok to paint brick:
#1: If the brick has already been painted
Like we mentioned earlier, painted brick needs regular maintenance so repainting it keeps it looking fresh. Just be sure to use paint that is specifically made for that purpose.
#2: If you live in an older house and the brick needs to be repointed
Repointing brick means you’ll have to replace or add new mortar. Having this done professionally can be a pricey solution. This is a project that you can DIY, but the cement will likely get on the surface of the brick making it look messy. The best thing to do in that situation is to paint over it.
#3: If the brick is inside the house
Because indoor brick isn’t subject to harsh outdoor elements, painting it likely won’t result in structural damage to the house. For example, painting your exposed brick wall means it won’t be exposed to moisture and humidity like your exterior brick.