What to Consider Before Painting Brick—and How to Do It Right

When done correctly, painted brick can last years before needed to be touched up.

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white painted brick home exterior

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Whether it covers the entirety of your property’s exterior or is just featured as an accent wall, you’ve probably wondered at one point or another if you can paint your home’s brick. While it's often seen as timeless, sometimes brick can look dated in certain interiors or exteriors and painting it is a great way to bring an updated look to your space. Though it may work aesthetically, painting brick takes time—and may be difficult to remove in the future if you have a change of heart. But if you’re interested in taking the leap, there are a few things you should know when it comes to tackling this home project. 

Pros of Painting Your Home's Brick

There are many reasons to paint your home’s brick. Not only does it enhance the look of your home, but it’s also low maintenance and gives you more design opportunities down the line. 

Design Versatility

Painting your home’s brick opens up more versatility in your design choices. “When there are brick repairs over the years—where windows are added or removed, front stairs are added, or outdoor elements like lighting or planters are added—sometimes the bricks are hard to match,” says Amy Wax, architectural color consultant and creator of the Color911 App. “Rather than living with a brick that does not match, paint the brick a color that blends beautifully with the color palette of your home.”

Enhanced Curb Appeal

If your home’s brick is looking a little worse for wear, painting it is a quick way to enhance curb appeal. “Painting a brick home can instantly update its appearance,” says Kerrie Kelly, creative director of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. “You can choose a color that complements your overall design style and makes your home stand out in the neighborhood.” 

Less Maintenance

Although beautiful, brick is a porous material that can absorb dirt and stains easily when exposed to the elements. “Painting brick can provide an extra layer of protection against harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, and UV rays, which can help extend the lifespan of the brick and reduce maintenance,” says Kelly. 

Cons of Painting Your Home's Brick

Although there are many upsides of painting brick, there are some downsides to consider before diving into this project. 

Hard to Undo

Once you paint brick, it can be difficult and costly to remove. “Removing paint from brick can be a challenging and time-consuming process. It may involve using paint removers, sandblasting or power washing, followed by extensive cleaning and potentially resealing the brick surface,” says Gary McCoy, store manager at Lowe’s. What's more, removing paint from brick may not always result in the original brick being fully restored to its original appearance.

Potential for Peeling

Although painted brick is relatively easy to maintain, you may still experience peeling or chipping. “Brick is a porous material that expands and contracts with changes in temperature and moisture," says Kelly. "If the paint is not applied properly or if the brick underneath is not prepared adequately, it may peel or chip over time."

Requires Multiple Coats

This isn’t a one-and-done task like some painting projects can be. Often brick absorbs the first layer or so of paint and may require multiple layers to achieve your desired look. “We all love the look of a New England brick home with a gazillion layers of paint on it, but don't think that is necessarily how your brick will appear when it is being painted with its first coat of paint,” says Wax. 

Loss of Natural Texture

Covering up your home’s brick, may take away some of its unique charm. “Painting brick covers up the natural texture and character of the brick, which may be a downside for some homeowners who appreciate the raw beauty of exposed brick,” says Kelly. 

painted brick wall in sunroom

Courtesy of Annie Sloan

How to Paint Your Home's Brick

Clean the Brick

Before applying any products to your home’s brick, you should start by cleaning it to remove dirt, dust, and debris. “If the brickwork is exceptionally dirty, or covered in moss, you can clean it using a pressure washer or by scrubbing it with warm soapy water,” says Annie Sloan, paint and color expert, and creator of Chalk Paint Annie Sloan. A pressure washer is the best option if you’re planning to paint a large brick surface. 

Repair Any Damage

Once the surface is clean, inspect the brick for any damage. "Assess the mortar by looking for any cracks, holes, gaps or crumbling. If any imperfections are found, repair the brick using appropriate patching or using acrylic exterior caulk to fill blemishes,” says McCoy. “Allow the brick surface to dry completely before applying primer or paint.”

Apply Primer

Next, apply a primer that is specifically made for masonry surfaces to ensure the paint properly adheres to the brick. “You want to use a high-quality paint that firmly bonds to surfaces, is crack resistant, and seals out moisture,” says McCoy. 

Test Your Paint

Once you’ve primed the surface, test your paint on a small patch of brick to ensure you like the way it looks. “The best type of paint for brick is typically an acrylic latex paint that is designed for masonry or exterior use,” says Kelly. “They provide excellent adhesion, durability, and flexibility, which are essential for a surface like brick that expands and contracts with temperature changes.” 

As for the finish? Satin or eggshell is often the best choice for brick. “These finishes strike the perfect balance between durability and aesthetics,” says Kelly. “They offer a subtle sheen that adds a touch of elegance, while also providing good resistance to moisture, dirt, and stains.”

Apply Your Paint

Apply the paint using a brush or roller, moving from the top of the brick using long, vertical strokes. Work in small sections and be careful to avoid drips or streaks. Depending on your desired finished look, you may need to apply multiple coats of paint. “Allow the paint to dry thoroughly according to the manufacturer's instructions before applying any additional coats or finishing touches,” says Kelly.

How to Maintain Painted Brick

While painted brick can last years before needing to be touched up, there are some measures you can take to make it look nicer for longer. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or tools that may damage the painted surface. "Regularly clean the painted brick surface with a gentle cleaner and a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt, dust, and debris," says McCoy. You should also inspect the paint regularly for any signs of peeling, cracking, or damage, and address any issues as needed.

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