How To Paint Brick

Choosing the right brick paint for houses and exterior walls

If you have a brick house that needs a facelift, before you pick up a brush and paint can, read below. Although you can paint brick without causing damage to the surface, there are certain things you should know about the process prior to heading out to the paint store. Once you've finished this project, if you're feeling adventurous, I'd suggest checking out Earth 4 Energy - Make your own solar panels! - you'll be saving money on your energy bills in no time!

  1. Why Paint Brick? People choose to paint brick houses if the brick is damaged or is of inferior quality. White stains and areas of discolored brick can be eyesores that beg to be cleaned up and covered. Choosing the best brick paint is really important; elastomeric paint can do wonders to the look of faded/damaged brick because of its thick coat and elasticity.
  2. If your brick is not damaged and looks good in its normal condition, you may want to consider keeping it. Once you paint brick, you commit yourself to years of maintenance potentially. If you use the proper paint and prep the area correctly, however, you can prevent this constant upkeep.
  3. Efflorescence. Efflorescence is white staining that occurs on exterior brick as a result of salt deposits. When water interacts with the brick, the salt inside the material dries and stains. These stains can be difficult to remove and will not usually disappear permanently with plain water.

    Sometimes you can remove the stains with a stiff brush. If this method does not work, try applying a diluted formula of muriatic acid. Consult a mason before you do this, however, as not all efflorescence will be cleaned by this acid. When you are applying the solution, be aware that you are working with acid -- a potentially dangerous substance. Use gloves and the proper applicators.

  4. Preparation: Scraping and Caulking. Eliminate, first, any efflorescence with the above method(s). Using a scraper, widen cracks that are preexisting. Eliminate the dust in the brick with a brush and/or power vacuum device. Seal the cracks with 100% acrylic or siliconized acrylic caulk. You may need to repeat the application three to five hours later if needed. If there are joints that need mending, re-point them as well. Be sure that the chimney caps have no cracks or holes in them.
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  6. Mildew. If you have mildew on your brick, use a bleach solution on the surface. A generic household version of bleach will work. Leave the solution on the brick for 15 minutes or so. Remove the treated mildew with a stiff brush.
  7. Prime the brick. If the condition of the brick is in good to great condition, there might be no need to prime your brick house or wall. In most cases, priming will help the appearance of the paint job, however. Use a high quality exterior latex primer that can be used on masonry surfaces. Make sure you prime any areas where there was efflorescence first (as it may need two coats of primer to match the rest of the brick).how to paint brick
  8. Painting: Conventional Exterior Paint. Choose a color that will suit your home. Buy high quality exterior 100% acrylic latex exterior house paint. You can use flat, satin, or semi-gloss finish, depending on your preference.
  9. Painting: Elastomeric Paint. This is the brick paint I would recommend. Elastomeric paint is a dense rubberized paint high in acrylic content. It is usually a water-based substance which is used by painters for its water-repelling assets. When applied, it forms a water-repellant casing between the masonry/stucco and the outside elements. The paint can fill cracks up to 1/8 inch because of its great (300%) elasticity. You will need to apply two coats of elastometic paint to achieve maximum durability. Make sure you consult the manufacture's "spread rate"--which will be 40-60 square feet per gallon. This will ensure maximum protection and performance when you paint exterior brick.
  10. Lead Paint. If you suspect that there is lead paint on the exterior of your home, do not attempt to scrape or sand. Seek a lead specialist prior to performing any work. Lead paint can be hazardous in large amounts.

Always consult a professional painter and/or have a conversation with the paint specialist at the store before you attempt to paint your home. Make sure too, that the color(s) you choose will be suitable. Get the advice of a friend or professional with a good color sense before choosing a crazy color -- remember, you are painting an entire home, not a bathroom. Repainting the exterior brick of a home can be a costly endeavor, so sometimes being conservative on color pays off.


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Oh and the most important reason to cover up the old brick: it's outdated and just plain ugly!

By Riley Klein