Painting Brick Pros & Cons: What To Consider Before Deciding

Teenage girl applying white paint to a brick home.

Painting brick has forever been a subject of debate. Some love it, some hate it, and the rest are torn between the two.

While painting brick can drastically change the look of your property, it needs to be done properly to prevent the associated risks of financial loss.

This brings us to today’s question:

Is painting brick a bad idea? Painting brick is only a bad idea if you use the wrong type of paint; it has a significant historic value; or you paint over chipped, deteriorating, or molded brick. However, if the brick is meant to be painted, was already painted, or looks unfinished, then painting it is a good idea.

There are many aspects to consider before deciding to paint brick, including the pros, cons, paint choice, and the process itself. Keep reading as we discuss all these factors and more.

Pros and Cons of Painting Exterior Brick

Just because you can paint exterior brick, does it mean you should? The following pros and cons of painting brick will help you make a decision.

Advantages of Painting Brick

Painting exterior brick offers many benefits when it comes to appearance, value, and practicality. 

1. Curb Appeal

It’s safe to say that painting exterior brick is an excellent way to make your property look more elegant, lively, inviting, or whatever vibe you’re looking to give.

An improved appearance will make your house/property more attractive and eye-catching. As such, its curb appeal and value will increase should you decide to put it on the market.

2. Weather Protection

A layer of paint on exterior brick can serve as a protective barrier against various weather elements.

For example, waterproof paint will block moisture from invading the bricks, preventing them from swelling and cracking.

Paint can also keep UV radiation and wind from eating away at naked bricks, which typically leads to deterioration and fading.

3. Easier To Clean

As a porous material, bricks are a sitting target for dirt and debris to accumulate deep within, making cleanup nearly impossible.

Not to mention, bricks can discolor upon absorbing moisture, which is a permanent change.

With a layer of paint on top, the surface of the bricks becomes smooth with no grooves and crevices for dirt to be stuck. This makes cleaning as easy as a power wash every couple of years! 

4. Color Can Be Changed

Another advantage to painting brick is that you can choose a different color than the signature red. Then, when you feel like a change, you can paint over the old paint and switch up the appearance!

Disadvantages of Painting Brick

Despite all the ups that accompany painting brick, you’ll also have to deal with a few downs when it comes to maintenance.

1. Dirt and Grime Will Be More Noticeable

Plain bricks have a rugged look that does an excellent job concealing dirt and grime.

However, when you paint bricks, dirt and grime become way more visible against the smoothness and vibrancy of the colors. This can be the case whether you choose a light or dark shade.

2. May Trap Moisture

Choosing the wrong type of paint to apply over bricks can damage their structure and appearance as it prevents moisture from escaping.

The accumulation of moisture won’t only affect the integrity of the bricks over time, but it’ll also cause the paint to chip and fail.

3. Difficult To Remove

Another thing you should be aware of is that once you paint bricks, it’s nearly impossible and quite expensive to go back to their bare look.

4. Will Need To Be Repainted Routinely

Like pretty much any painted surface, reapplying paint to the bricks is necessary to keep them looking nice and ensure the continuity of the paint’s weather-resistant properties.

How To Prepare Brick for Painting

One of the most crucial steps in painting bricks is prepping as it ensures that the rest of the steps are done on a proper base for optimal paint adhesion. 

Preparing brick for painting involves two major steps:

Cleaning

You should clean the brick structure thoroughly. Use a brush with stiff bristles to remove large debris and dust.

Follow this with a soapy water or masonry cleaner and then a hose-down to make sure all the dirt is removed.

Filling Cracks

Before applying paint, you should also fill any grooves or cracks in the bricks using a filling knife and some acrylic caulk.

Once the cracks are filled, allow enough time for the caulk to dry completely before painting over it.

Best Paint for Brick Exterior

The best paint for a brick exterior is, of course, the right type of paint. So when you’re shopping for paint, make sure it has the following properties:

  • A silicate or mineral base
  • Breathability (SD value of 0.5 lower)
  • High water resistance 

Factors To Consider When Selecting Paint for Brick

A large brick home painted white with vines, landscaping, and an American flag.

Choosing paint for bricks isn’t only about its breathability or type of base; other considerations also include the finish, longevity, and color.

1. Desired Finish

Different paints can produce different types of finishes ranging from super shiny to extremely flat. So, you need to figure out what sort of look fits the brick structure in question.

Examples of finishes include matte, high gloss, semi-gloss, satin, and eggshell.  

2. Durability

The durability of the paint corresponds to how long it stays intact and looks good. This depends on two factors:

  • The resin or binder used in the formulation keeps all the components and pigment attached together and adhered to the surface.
  • The shine or gloss level of paint. The higher the gloss, the more time it takes to appear chalky.

3. Resistance to Mold/Mildew/Stain/UV Light

One of the benefits of painting brick is providing protection against weather elements, stains, and mold.

Luckily, many paints are treated to offer UV resistance to prevent discoloration issues due to prolonged exposure to the sun.

You’ll also find paints with anti-mold and mildew agents incorporated into its formula as well as low SD values to allow the escape of moisture and prevent molding. 

4. Color

Finally, you should decide the color you want to apply.

This ultimately comes down to your taste, but you may also want to consider the style of the house, the color scheme of the neighborhood, and the longevity of the color trend. 

Painting Brick Fireplace

If you’ve got a brick fireplace indoors or outdoors, you may be thinking about painting it. Here are the upsides and downsides of the process to help you make up your mind:

Pros:

  • It can completely transfer the look of the room.
  • It makes cleaning up easier.
  • It’s simple and affordable.
  • The color can be changed.

Cons:

  • You need to use a special paint.
  • Prepping can be a hassle.

Best Paint To Use for Brick Fireplace

Bricks are highly resistant to heat and generally easy to work with when it comes to fireplaces. The best paint to use in this case should have the following properties:

  • Can withstand high temperatures (up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit) since it’ll be in contact with burning flames.
  • Can resist soot and creosote and stains.
  • Nontoxic when exposed to heat.

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Related Questions:

Does Painting Brick Devalue a Home?

Unless your home has a historic significance, painting the brick will only raise its value. By improving the appearance of the house, its curb appeal will also increase.

How Long Does Paint on Brick Last?

If applied and maintained properly, paint can last more than 20 years on brick.

Wrapping It Up

Painting brick is a bad idea only if you use the wrong type of paint; if you paint over chipped, deteriorating, or molded brick; or if the brick has a significant historic value.

Other than that, painting brick can boost curb value, add protection against weather, and make cleaning a lot easier.

Sources:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/245307953_New_Tests_for_Porosity_and_Water_Absorption_of_Fired_Clay_Bricks

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352710217306800

https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/painting.pdf

Last update on 2022-07-05 at 16:58 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Rich

Rich

I'm a hobby enthusiast with a real love for painting miniatures. I also happen to run this site and write the majority of its content!