The Challenges Of Painting Your Home’s Brick Surfaces

by Editor on April 30, 2013

Stone tiles wallWith spring having arrived and summer on its way, the time has come to start tackling those home improvement projects. If you’re a fan flipping through home design magazines, you may have noticed an emerging trend of people painting the brick surfaces in their homes. While this seems like an enticing notion- that unattractive fireplace facade can become instantly transformed into a fresh and brilliantly white façade with just a little paint- does painting your fireplace really rank as a good idea? To help you make the best decision possible, here are the pros and cons of painting your interior and exterior brick facades.

Brick Exterior Painting

Unfortunately, when it comes to painting a brick exterior, you’re going to face a number of cons without any real pros. Trying to paint a brick exterior easily ranks as one of the most challenging home improvement projects you could ever undertake, and requires a massive amount of preparation and physical labor.

You first need to spend time researching the right selection of cleaning products and sealants to use to clean and coat your brick surface. You need to do this well in advance of starting your painting project, and should probably consult a local house painter who’s familiar with how to paint the type of brick your home features and your local climate. Keep in mind that one brick isn’t the same as another. There are a number of different types of bricks and each type needs a compatible chemical to prep and finish.

Efflorescence, the white looking powder that develops from salts that migrate to the surface of bricks, needs to be removed prior to painting with a wire brush. Any mildew, mold, or dirt that has built up on the surface of your bricks must also be removed with a power washer that uses a quality cleaning solution. If power washing doesn’t adequately remove all of the dirt and debris, you may need to sandblast your brick surface to get it properly clean. Keep in mind that any residual mold will continue to grow if not fully removed prior to painting.

Once you have thoroughly cleaned your brick surface, you must let it dry for several days even if it looks and feels dry after only a day. If you attempt to paint brick that hasn’t completely dried, the moisture trapped within will cause the paint to peel and bubble.

Needless to say, attempting to paint a brick exterior is a massive undertaking where a number of factors could sabotage the project.

Brick Interior Painting

While still a difficult project, painting a brick surface located inside of your home does offer some aesthetic value. A quality brick paint job can transform an old, drab brick façade into a clean and modern looking showpiece for any room in the house. Depending on the room, painting a brick façade can also lighten up a room, making it feel more open and appealing.

Preparing to paint a brick interior requires far less work than brick on your home’s exterior. You can use a much milder cleaning solution to remove soot and dirt around the exterior of your brick façade, and you don’t need to worry about the elements when preparing to paint.

However, there are a number of cons when it comes to painting a brick interior. First of all, you can never return a brick interior to its natural appearance once you have it painted. Brick has a natural porous quality that acts like a sponge when you apply paint, which also makes it impossible to completely remove paint from a brick surface.

Even though painting a brick interior requires less physical effort, it still requires a lot of time and effort. While you can use a roll to apply paint to the surface of brick, you need to use a paintbrush to paint brick mortar, and make sure you catch any drips that develop when paint begins to seep out of pores. You can also anticipate buying twice the amount of paint you’d normally use to cover a wall the same size as your brick façade.

Once you have successfully completed your painting project, you also need to keep in mind that maintaining your brick façade requires frequent cleaning. If you’re not prepared to regularly wipe down your brick façade to keep it looking its best, you might want to reconsider the project to begin with.

About the Author

A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke discovered the difficulties of brick painting from professional house painters in Hillsboro, OR.

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