Should I Paint That? Tips & Tricks for Painting Brick

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So, you’re thinking about painting the brick on (or in) your home. Should you? Well there are some things to consider when it comes to painting brick. Let’s look at the facts. 

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The most important thing to ask yourself is “Is the brick in good shape?” Brick in poor condition – things like chipping, molding, or deteriorating – is not a great candidate for paint. Brick is naturally porous, allowing for absorption and evaporation of water. When you add a layer of paint, it blocks the pores and doesn’t allow for that evaporation to occur. When water seeps into the brick through the mortar, it doesn’t have anywhere to go and can ultimately exacerbate existing problems in already damaged brick. That water can also affect the paint, causing chipping.

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Some older brick walls can develop a white residue known as efflorescence. Efflorescence can be a sign of a bigger problem with the brick so it’s important to determine whether the effect is just a product of age. Scrub the efflorescence off with water and a brush. If it returns after a few days or weeks, you might need to address some deeper issues.

Another thing to consider is whether painting the brick or simply staining it is the way to go for you. Staining has a permanent affect on the bricks and is a bit more of a tedious process but is generally better to preserve some of the natural qualities. Staining allows the brick to maintain its porous nature and also its rough texture. Staining might not be the drastic change in color that some people are looking for but is another good option.

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If you’ve decided that painting is the right way to go, it’s important to prepare the brick properly. As with any paint job, properly cleaning the surface is very important. Soaping water might do the trick but if not, trisodium phosphate (TSP) can help remove dirt, debris, and efflorescence. Make sure to wear proper protective gear when using TSP, as it is harsh. Once the surface is clean, allow ample time for the brick to dry. The more moisture trapped inside the brick at the time of painting, the more likely to have problems with the paint.

After your brick is clean and dry, fix up any cracks, damage, or holes with acrylic caulk. Doing so will result in a more even finished product, hiding any previous problems. Then it’s time to apply a latex primer and then, at last, your final paint. For outdoor brick, a latex or mineral-based paint that is vapor permeable is recommended while for indoors, latex or acrylic are suggested, preferably with a gloss finish to show off the brick and increase ease of cleaning.  

If you’re thinking about painting the brick at your home but don’t feel quite up to the task, PaintPositive would be happy to help. We are experts at all kinds of interior and exterior painting and work all over the Northeast Ohio area. We have years of experience and follow proper preparation and painting techniques to ensure the best results. Contact us today to get started on your next big project!