Pros & Cons of Painting Exterior Brick

Often controversial, whether to paint your exterior brick is a huge decision. I’m talking about the pros and cons of painting exterior brick, what I’ve learned through painting our brick home, and the only way I would paint our brick exterior again.

two houses, one unpainted on top and one painted white on bottom

In this post you’ll find: (click to jump to that section)

Why We Painted Our Home

When we moved into our home, there were several issues right off bat that immediately told me this home would need to be painted. The brick the original owners chose had aged to a drab grey with beige undertones (not a pretty greige). Now, it could have been dressed up a bit with better paint color selections for the door (red?!?!) and shutters.

However, what couldn’t be fixed is the straining on the brick. The original shutters were clearly installed with wrong screws, which rusted over time and created rust streaks running down from each shutter. It was very clear that the previous owner(s) had attempted to get that rust off the brick because we could see where they hit the brick and shutters with a pressure washer and brush.

beige exterior brick with labels pointing out rust stains

This was a no brainer for me. If we were going to buy this home, it needed to be painted. Period. Now, if the decision is not so clear cut with your home, you should consider some pros and cons of painting exterior brick.

The Pros of Painting Your Exterior Brick Home

Here are some of the factors that I would put under the “pro” category:

  1. Aesthetic Enhancement: AKA make it pretty! Like my house, painting brick can take a house from drab to fab. Painting exterior brick allows homeowners to update the look of their home, giving it a fresh and modern appearance. It offers an opportunity to choose a color that complements the overall style of the house or matches other elements, such as siding or trim. It also can help make a home more cohesive if changes have been made piecemeal over the years.
  2. Concealing Imperfections: Exterior brick may have cracks, stains, or other forms of damage. There may have been changes made in the home such that new bricks were added and are not the same color or fade (and therefore stick out). Painting the brick can help camouflage these imperfections, providing a smooth and cohesive surface.
  3. Protection: Depending on the kind of paint you pick, it could serve as a protective barrier, shielding the brick from harsh weather conditions, moisture penetration, and UV rays. It can help prevent further deterioration and extend the lifespan of the brick.
  4. Lower Maintenance: Painted brick can be generally easier to clean and maintain compared to bare brick. The paint can act as a barrier against dirt and stains, requiring less frequent cleaning and upkeep.
  5. Personalization: You can completely transform the look and feel of a home by painting the exterior and truly make it your won. Homeowners can choose a color that reflects their individual taste, making the home unique and customized.

Cons of Painting Exterior Brick:

So why are some people SO against painting brick? Well…

  1. Irreversible Decision: Once the brick is painted, it can be challenging to say the least to revert back to its original appearance. Removing paint from brick can be time-consuming, costly, and may not always turn out the way you want.
  2. Reduced Breathability: Again, depending on the type of pain you choose, painting brick can reduce its breathability, as the paint forms a barrier on the surface. This may impede the natural moisture exchange between the brick and the environment, potentially leading to moisture-related issues (read mold, milder, deterioration) in the long term.
  3. Maintenance Requirements: While painted brick generally requires less maintenance than bare brick, it still needs periodic care. Over time, (depending on the paint you pick) the paint may chip, fade, or require touch-ups. Regular inspections and maintenance are necessary to ensure the paint remains in good condition.
  4. Limited Texture: Painting brick can alter the natural texture and character of the surface. Some people appreciate the tactile and visual appeal of exposed brick, which can be lost when it is painted (depending on which paint you pick…see what I’m putting out there…).
  5. Cost Considerations: Painting the exterior brick of a home can be a significant investment, especially if professional assistance is required. It is essential to factor in the cost of preparation, paint, labor, and ongoing maintenance when considering this option.
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Before & Afters

What to Consider Before Painting Brick

Ultimately, the decision to paint exterior brick should be carefully considered, weighing multiple factors:

  • Consider the Condition of the Brick: Evaluate the current condition of your brick exterior. If the brick is in good condition, with no significant damage or deterioration, painting may not be necessary and could even detract from the natural beauty of the brick. However, if the brick is stained, discolored, or damaged, painting may be a viable option to improve its appearance.
  • Assess Your Home’s Architectural Style: Consider the architectural style of your home and how painting the brick may impact its overall look. While painting brick can give your home a fresh and updated appearance, it may not be suitable for certain architectural styles, such as Colonial or Craftsman, where exposed brick is a defining feature.
  • Think About Long-Term Maintenance: Painting brick can provide a fresh look and help protect the surface from elements like moisture and UV rays. However, it’s essential to consider the long-term maintenance requirements associated with painted brick. Painted surfaces may require periodic maintenance, such as repainting or touch-ups, to keep them looking their best.
  • Evaluate the Color Options: When considering painting your brick exterior, think carefully about the color you want to use. While white and light-colored paints can give your home a classic and timeless look, darker colors can provide a more modern and dramatic appearance. Take into account the existing color scheme of your home and surrounding properties when selecting a paint color.
  • Understand the Impact on Resale Value: Painting your exterior brick can significantly impact the resale value of your home. While some buyers may appreciate the updated look of painted brick, others may prefer the natural beauty of exposed brick. Consider how painting your brick may affect the marketability of your home specifically in your area if you plan to sell in the future.
  • Permits and Regulations: Check local building codes and HOA regulations to ensure compliance with any requirements related to painting exterior surfaces. Some jurisdictions may have restrictions on paint colors or finishes for historic or conservation areas. (you know I have to bring up the legal aspects, right?)
  • $$$ Cost, Now and Later: In addition to the cost of the paint and the labor of applying it, there may be additional costs to consider. If you paint the brick, your siding or trim may look faded by comparsion and really stick out. We decided to paint everything all at once so it was all aging from the same start date. Also, if your home is a darker brick and you want to go to a lighter color, you may require even more coats of paint than you’d expect.
  • OTHER OPTIONS: Painting brick is not the only way to upgrade or change it. There are so many products on the market now that will help you update the look of your home’s exterior, like limewash and German Schmear, that could achieve the same goals, sometimes for a lower price or with a less permanent solution.
you know I had to bring this up:

Of course I had to bring up the legal aspects and, yes, there may be regulations governing the painting of your exterior.

Why We Decided to Paint Our Brick Home

Like I said above, it was obvious to me before we purchased our home that the brick would need to be painted, but let me go through the considerations above to help you see how I came to that decision:

  1. Condition of the Brick: It was stained and that stain was not coming out. It was clear others had tried and we did too–no luck.
  2. Architectural Style & Aesthetics: I LOVE a white brick home. It’s such a classic style that, in my opinion, never really goes out of style. It certainly would match our traditional style home and I knew there wasn’t another product that would improve this exterior “blah” brick that was there because there wasn’t enough contrast between the brick color and a schmear or lime wash we could apply. Plus, I knew I would never love our home with stains on the front. I personally do not love the shininess of exterior latex paint, so that was one thing I knew I’d need to resolve. However, as you’ll see, I ended up finding a very special paint that has a matte finish that looks so high end and luxe.
  3. Market Research: Painted brick is totally accepted in our area and commonly done. The current market didn’t give me any pause when thinking about painting this brick. Plus, we do not have an HOA or any building regulations in our neighborhood, so we were free to paint from that perspective.
  4. Cost: Since our original brick was a lighter color to begin with, I didn’t have a concern about requiring more paint than usual to get good coverage. I did have concern about mold and mildew building up behind the brick, ultimately causing damage, as well as needing to reapply the paint frequently or having paint that was chipping, peeling, or fading. I know I would not be able to wait it out for the next scheduled (budgeted) paint application if it was looking like a mess well before that. Luckily, I ended up with a super special paint product that does not chip, fade, or peel. Plus, it’s porous and allows the brick to breath so there’s no need to worry about the brick breaking down behind the paint.

Are We Happy We Painted Our Brick Home?

White brick home with black shutters, black window boxes with flowers, and landscaping

I think it’s safe to say we are THRILLED with how our white painted brick home turned out. Can you believe this is the same section of the house as featured above with the rust stains?!?! It has taken our home from drab to fab, dated to designed.

Remember to Pin This for Later!

two houses, one unpainted on top and one painted white on bottom

Would you like to know what we ultimately used for paint? Stay tuned for the next post about this whole process and why I would NEVER paint a house with a different product!

XOXO Alicia

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2 Comments

  1. mica stinnett says:

    what was the brand of paint you used to paint your brick?

    1. Romabio! Absolutely LOVE their Masonry Flat exterior paint. More coming about that paint, btw…we unexpectedly found a house, bought it, and then sold our house in about 2 months. I’m finally coming up for air.