Painting exterior brick is a major home improvement project-not just because of the amount of time and effort it takes to complete the job, but also because of its permanence. Before making the final decision to take on this task, consider whether paint is right for your home's brick exterior and learn what the work will involve.
Pros and Cons of Painting Exterior Brick
The right paint can give your home a much-needed makeover. That being said, you should be sure about the color you choose before moving forward, as it proves extremely difficult-and in some cases, impossible-to remove paint from brick. Also keep in mind that painted brick may require repainting every three to five years to maintain its appearance.
Only brick and mortar in good shape should be painted. Paint blocks pores on the brick’s surface, trapping moisture that has seeped inside through the mortar. This can cause the paint to chip off from the brick and the mortar, leaving you with an unsightly mess.
If you have damaged bricks and mortar, they will require repair as part of the prep process to ensure the best results.
Prepwork for Painting a Brick Home
Start this project with a thorough cleaning of the exterior brick. You can use soapy water, a stiff-bristled brush, and serious elbow grease, or you can use a pressure washer. Be sure to follow the equipment's instructions for use on brick, including the nozzle size recommended, to avoid causing damage to the brick and mortar.
Heavy-duty cleaners such as trisodium phosphate and diluted bleach also may be required to remove stubborn efflorescence (white residue from deposits of water-soluble salt buildup) and mold, respectively. And always wait at least 24 hours-or more, depending on your climate-to allow brick to dry completely before moving onto the painting process.
Recommended Paints for Exterior Brick
There are a variety of paints available for brick:
Behr offers its Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint. The high-quality satin-finish, acrylic-latex paint self-primes, repels water, and resists mildew when applied on properly prepped brick.
Benjamin Moore recommends its Aura Waterborne Exterior Paint for brick surfaces. Available in flat, low-lustre, satin, and semi-gloss, it also self-primes and resists water, mildew and stains as well as protects against cracking, peeling and fading.
Glidden offers its Premium Exterior Paint as a high-quality option for painting brick. The acrylic latex paint has a flat sheen, withstands severe weather, and resists mildew, stains, and dirt.
Staining a Brick Home
If you want to keep more of the texture visible than possible with paint, consider staining your brick exterior. It requires the same prep work but may offer longer results as it will not chip or peel. There are DIY kits available, but when staining a large area of brick such as the exterior of your home, professional painters will get the work done in a fraction of the time it would take you. They also prove a safer bet for a home improvement project this permanent.