To Paint Brick or Not, That’s the Question

Should I paint my brick?

If you’re like me, you love the look of a brick house. Strong, sturdy, classic. They come in all shapes and sizes and architectural styles ranging from Bungalow to Colonial, Tudor to Contemporary, Modern to Italianate. But not all bricks are created equal, and frankly, some are just plain ugly. So, what do you do when you love your house, but hate the brick? You guessed it….PAINT THE BRICK!!

Painting brick is a relatively easy fix for updating and changing the look of your castle, but it needs to be done correctly. While brick itself it pretty durable, add the elements of the environment and you could end up with numerous problems. A brick’s surface is naturally porous and absorbs and releases moisture very quickly. So, one would think that the solution to protect the brick from water damage would be to seal it, right? Big, fat…. WRONG! When brick is painted, this exchange is blocked and can cause a number of issues down the road. Over time, ALL paint cracks. These cracks, whether big or small, will allow water to enter the brick. When the majority of the brick’s surface is sealed by the paint, the water cannot migrate back out. If the water has nowhere to exit out, it will stay in, lending to mold and mildew problems on your interior. If you live in a climate with the dreaded season of winter, the moisture inside the painted brick will freeze. Fast forward a few years with this cycle and what you end up with is brick delamination, which is a fancy way of saying your beautiful brick wall is on its way to becoming brick dust in the wind. And if you’re not a fan of the band Kansas, that’s not a good thing.

By now you’re probably singing that song and thinking, “If it’s so bad to paint brick, why are you suggesting that I do it? Crazy Woman!”. Rewind to the second paragraph and note that painting brick needs to be done correctly! There are many products on the market used for painting brick exterior. Many are intended solely for masonry, stucco and brick and are marketed to “repel water” or “seal the brick”. Now if you’ve retained anything that you’ve just read, hopefully you’re saying to yourself, “NO, NO, NO!” and are going to be researching products that are also, “Vapor Permeable” and “Breathable”. Elastomeric coatings are also recommended as the paint assists in preventing moisture from entering the brick, while allowing moisture to escape.

painted brick exterior mineral paint

Another amazing option is a lime-wash or mineral paint for your brick. Romabio BioCalce© Classico Limewash is completely permeable and breathable and gives a beautiful aged, semi-distressed look to your home without compromising the brick. Romabio also produces Masonry Flat mineral paint.  Masonry Flat mineral paint provides a fully opaque, flat finish that looks completely natural and covers extremely well. This product still carries the permeable, moisture-transferring properties, as well.

By doing your research, trusting an experienced painter and choosing the right products, you can update the brick on your home and increase the style and value.