There are some good arguments for why you’d want to paint the brick on the exterior of your house. Maybe the colour of the brick is dated. It could be in rough shape or maybe you want to create a completely new look for the exterior of your home. All of those make sense and I completely get it. I’ve done a lot of exterior colour consultations and 100% of the time when a client asks me “should I paint the brick” my answer is NO.
It’s tempting to slap a coat of paint on something we don’t like. After all, I tell you to paint inside your home all the time. So why not the exterior? There are a few reasons, both aesthetic and structural. I like the look of painted brick but you need to fully understand the downside before you get the painter on the phone.
DANGER! THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU PAINT THE BRICK ON YOUR HOME
1/ BRICK NEEDS TO BREATHE.
When you paint the brick, the moisture trapped in the paint can damage the brick permanently. Brick needs to breathe so that you can easily move through all seasons and weather. Painting brick it seals off the brick’s ability to breathe. Moisture from the paint becomes trapped inside the brick and it will start to deteriorate.
If you live in a cold climate (hello fellow Canadians), this deterioration happens even more quickly. The freezing and thawing that we experience in winter can speed up the damage. Once the cold weather hits, it doesn’t take long before the trapped moisture is now expanding and contracting. This will ultimately lead to the breakdown of the brick.
2/ IF YOU PAINT THE BRICK YOU’LL NEED CONSTANT MAINTENANCE.
Aside from the damage caused, painted brick requires additional maintenance. The elements, whether it’s sun, rain, snow or wind all cause wear and tear when you paint the brick. Conversely, brick in its natural form requires no maintenance.
If you paint the brick you’ll need to repaint or touch up the paint every couple of years. There will be significant peeling and chipping that will need to be touched up every year or every season, depending on your climate. Painted brick always looks great when it’s first applied but just know that the day after you’re finished is the best you’ll see it. After that, it’s a battle against time so keep your painter on speed dial if you decide to go for it.
4/ PAINTED BRICK IS PERMANENT
In most cases when you paint the brick, it’s permanent and you can’t undo it. It’s not impossible but it would be extremely expensive and time intensive to remove paint from a house that had been painted in its entirety.
The other issue is that once you remove the paint you will really see how much damage has been created underneath that coat. You should expect a lot of deterioration if you were to remove the paint. The paint may have created the problem but removing it will open you up for a new set of problems.
5/ RESPECT THE ARCHITECTURE
The homes that stand out the most (not in a good way) are the ones that are trying to change the architectural style inherent to the time it was built. You can’t change the architecture of a home. It will always feel odd and look like it’s lacking in cohesiveness.
We’ve all seen those homes where something looks off but we can’t quite put our finger on it. In a lot of cases this is what’s happened. The over-eager homeowner fell in love with something they’ve seen on tv or in a magazine. In an effort to recreate the look, they paint the house. And it’s not long before they regret it.
For instance, if you own a 70’s ranch bungalow, you can’t slap paint on and think you’ve got yourself a black and white modern farmhouse. It will always retain the look of the period from which it originates. Instead, embrace your amazing 70’s home and have some fun with that era.
6/ RESPECT THE NEIGHBOURHOOD
Same thing applies to the neighbourhood you live in as it does to the architecture. If you live in an 80’s subdivision filled with red brick homes you need to accept that this is the style of the neighbourhood. If you were to paint the brick on your home it would stand out like a sore thumb amongst a sea of red brick.
You want your home to stand out for its amazing curb appeal, not because it’s the odd duck on the street. Instead of painting, work with the colour of your brick. Use landscaping to update the overall aesthetic. Focus on what you can do to enhance what you have instead of fundamentally changing your home.
The easiest way to make meaningful change to your home, without painting the brick, is to add new doors or windows. This can give you an instant facelift and it will add value to your resale value.
Make sure everything on and around your home is in good working order and cleaned up. Paint or stain your deck and porch, keep your driveway in good shape and make sure your roof is in tact.
Once those pieces are in place, add some personality to your home through a great door colour or really well thought out furniture and accessorizing. Need some ideas for the perfect colour for your front door? Read this post
I hope that clears up any misunderstandings about what it means to paint the brick on your home. If you decide to go ahead at least you’re aware of what you’re in for in terms of maintenance and durability.
If you know your design style but you struggle with which paint to use, take a look at my Made-For-You paint palettes. They take the guesswork out and give you the confidence to get started.