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The Most Important Things to Know Before Painting Brick

Often, brick can look beautiful, and it’s associated with both warmth and luxury. However, there are times when brick can weather and erode to the point of becoming a visual scar on the home. If your bricks have seen better days, it might be the time to take action. And, the simplest and most cost effective thing that you can do is paint them – but that does come with a fair bit of risk.


Bricks are a classic, timeless décor, but that doesn’t mean they last forever – some maintenance will eventually be required. So, you decided to give your brick a facelift and paint them up. You might be asking: what are the most important things to know before painting brick? Check them out below, and remember to keep them in mind as you breakout the paint brushes and rollers.


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Brick is often chosen for its toughness and durability, but when it comes to painting it you’re going to want to do a bit of prep. If it has deteriorated to such a degree that painting wouldn’t save it, this will all be discovered during your prep. This is the part where many homeowners make mistakes, because they can be so eager to improve their home they rush over the first step in the process – try to avoid this, it will come with bad ramifications down the road. These complications can be avoided quite easily.


Before you even think about painting, make sure you clean the brick thoroughly and allow plenty of time to dry – at least 24 hours is recommended in most cases. Be sure to apply a water repellent, and never use overly acidic cleaning solutions on your brick – this will only damage it further. Basic soap and water should work fine in most instances. If your brick base has any chips or cracks, seal them tightly before painting, this will help eliminate future decay and possible mold. Pesky dirt and efflorescence should come off with a little scrubbing and elbow grease. This will help the paint better adhere, as it will have a smoother surface to attach itself to.


If you encounter some particularly tough mildew and soap and water won’t cut it, try mixing in a touch of bleach with water and attacking it with a stiff-bristled brush. Don’t overdue the cleaning solution, and always use one part bleach to three parts water.


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Primer Coat

In order to get the most out of your paint job, it’s recommended that you first apply a latex primer coat. For the sections of brick that have been most damaged by mildew or decay, make sure you apply an additional primer coat to really seal it up and protect it. Before going any further with the painting process, allow your primer to dry fully.


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Choose the Best Paint

Choosing the correct paint is going to depend on whether you’re painting an interior or exterior wall. Exterior walls will be a bit different, as they will come into play with outside elements. It’s recommended that you use a more porous paint for these bricks, allowing them to breathe better. Selecting high quality paint is going to be crucial for painting brick correctly, as it’s not the same as painting your average wall – it’s more porous and more moisture will creep in.


The best paint is going to be a highly breathable latex paint, which is widely available form a host of different producers. The paint should have a high level of elasticity as well, which will help fill in old cracks while preventing future ones. Elastodynamic paint will hold up well during all sorts of weather conditions, easily making it the preferred choice.  


Photo by Maksym Kaharlyk on Shutterstock


Rather than the traditional brush or roller, you might want to try applying your paint with a paint sprayer – it’s much more effective. This will help even more if you have a large area to paint, such as an entire wall or something outdoors. It helps ease the paint into the crevices and cracks better than the bristles of a paint brush.


However, if the area you’re painting is relatively contained (like a small fireplace or surround), traditional brushes and rollers will do the trick. Just be sure to get into all the small nooks and crannies, as brick is a mostly uneven surface.


Photo by Andrew Angelov on Shutterstock


After you’re finished painting, determine if a second coat is necessary (it often is). Make sure you keep up with the cleaning, as you don’t want to allow too much debris to live on the surface of your paint job, as it’ll eventually seep in. Same goes for moisture. This can all be done relatively easily, just be sure to dust and spot clean with soap and water as you see fit.


Photo by BongkarnGraphic on Shutterstock

In the end, bricks are a classic, timeless style, so before you paint be sure you aren’t glossing over a piece of history – depending on how old the home is. There are some risks associated with painting brick, and some homeowners prefer simply staining them.


Stain will allow them to shine, and unlike paint which sits on the surface, stain will penetrate the tiniest of cracks. But, with a little prep work and research, painting them should work just fine for most situations.

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