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Ask the Home Editor | Should I paint my bricks?

Jan 11, 2011 11:48PM ● By Anonymous

Home Editor:
Great question. First, not all brick is paintable. If you have access to the type of brick and manufacturer of the brick that covers your home, find out. If your brick is not damaged and looks good in its normal condition you may want to consider keeping it the way it is or just cleaning it because once you paint your brick, there’s no going back. Why? According to the experts at This Old House, removing paint from brick, especially old brick on historic houses, will damage, crack and even erode the brick, which means costly repairs down the line.

Cleaning your brick may restore its beauty without the hassle of maintaining paint. However, cleaning bricks often requires a professional – using a pressure or power washer the wrong way, will damage brick and mortar. Sometimes all it takes to remove that white chalky film on the outside (called efflorescence) is a wire brush.

If you decide to paint, you should first make sure that your mortar is in good condition. If your mortar is cracking, loose or missing, you will have to have it re-pointed before you paint. You must also use the right paint, and not paint that will seal the brick. Brick needs to “breathe” because it is a porous surface and the wrong type of paint will peel or bubble over time.

Paint experts from major paint companies say to use an exterior brick primer, first. Most major paint companies make them. Apply the primer with a paint sprayer to coat the bricks more evenly and quickly. After the primer is dry, use a spray painter to cover it with a coat or several coats (depending on coverage needed) of exterior masonry or brick paint. Again, most major paint companies make this type of paint. Ask your local paint store for more information.

If you have a home and garden question, let our home editor do the research for you! We have access to the best in the business and can answer your question in a thorough manner. Do you have a question for the home editor?