Painted brick is always a controversial topic. Some people love it, and others think it is a sin to paint over brick no matter how ugly or dated the brick looks. Thoughts on the matter may vary in different parts of the country, but in our area, it is a touchy subject. However, Henry and I both love the look of painted brick and are planning on using it on the exterior, and also in a few places on the interior of the new house.
Update: As you can see above, we completed our new house and did end up painting the exterior brick. We chose Sherwin Williams White Duck and absolutely love it! I think it is the perfect exterior white paint color.
History of Painted Brick
Painting brick actually dates back to before the 1870s. Bricks in the United States were first made by hand with clay, sand, and water pressed into molds. They were then dried and fired. Houses that were made from weaker, softer, handmade brick from some of these earlier periods required a protective coating. This is where the painting would take place in order to protect from the natural elements such as sleet, snow, and ice in the winter months.
But what will people think?
Going into this, we are aware of all of the different comments we will hear from friends, family, and other random people throughout the building process:
“You’re going to do what to the brick?”
“Why are you going to paint perfectly good brick?”
“Once you paint that brick, there is no going back!”
Having been through the building process a few times, we are used to all kinds of unsolicited advice. There is good advice and bad advice, and some of it will cause you to doubt your decisions. But in the end, it’s important to do what makes you happy and completes your vision for your home.
For us, there aren’t many pretty brick colors, so painting just makes sense. We get the texture of the brick and the color of our choice. I think it is such a classic look.
What about extra cost?
You might think by adding extra labor and material, the painted brick would cost more. But that’s not the case. We plan on using an inexpensive brick that still has good texture. And in most cases, these types of brick are better for painting than the more expensive variety.
In fact, painting brick can be DIYed and can save you thousands of dollars. This would be easily accomplished if the house is fairly small or only partially brick. We chose to not DIY our current home due to a large amount of square footage and time commitment at that time. I will say that we did not spend any more on our painted brick than we would have spent out for installing Hardie Board with custom paint for our exterior.
What about extra maintenance?
Any exterior painted surface will have to eventually get a fresh coat of paint. So this is a non-issue for us. If we didn’t do painted brick, we would do Hardie Plank, which would also be a painted surface.
But with brick, it is important to do it right, to begin with. Using a high-quality brick primer and brick paint will keep you from having to repaint as often. I’ve read that painted brick will need to be repainted every 3 years. I find that very hard to believe. There are numerous painted brick houses in our area that have not been repainted in over 10-15 years, and they look amazing.
On the exterior, the majority of the house will be brick, along with some darker Hardie Plank mixed in. We haven’t made the decision on the exact brick paint color yet, but we are thinking some kind of off-white. Here are some inspiration images that we have been looking at for color ideas:
Photo credit: Willow Homes
Photo credit: David Anderson
Photo credit: The Fox Group
Photo credit: Dixon Kirby
As I mentioned earlier, we plan on doing some painted brick on the interior of the house as well. One place that we plan on doing this is in the kitchen.
One area of the kitchen that we always put the most thought into is the backsplash. If your not careful, it’s easy to choose a tile that will quickly become dated. So we are thinking instead of tile, we can create a timeless backsplash with painted brick. There are thin brick products that you can use for these types of applications.
Pros and Cons of Painted Brick
Even though we may be a little bias, there are several pros and maybe a couple of cons to painted brick. The biggest pro is how great it looks. To us, painted brick is a timeless, unique look that adds lots of character to a home whether being inside or out. As I mentioned earlier which dates back to early years, painted exterior brick can actually be protection on the exterior of your home. If paint work is done properly, it will offer a durable coating that will provide moisture and mold protection. The painted brick is actually very easy to clean also, which is a plus!
A two biggest cons we would see with painted brick would be maintenance and permanence. Any painted exterior, whether brick or some type of siding, will need to be painted every so many years. The time factor would depend on what your climate is where you live and how harsh the natural elements are around your area. Another factor to consider would be the permanence. Once you have painted brick, the returning to its original state would be quite the challenge.
What Color to Paint My Brick and What Type of Finish?
There are many options out there for exterior paint colors. Personally, we feel it depends on the style of home and location, but we love both! Darker exteriors are bold and truly make a lasting statement. While a lighter exterior is a little more subtle and timeless. Or using a mixture of dark and light on the exterior can be the perfect contrast and combination.
On our current home, we chose to do a combination of painting the brick a lighter color, Sherwin Williams White Duck, and the back porch area Sherwin Williams Iron Ore. I feel like we couldn’t have chosen any better exterior color combination. We chose to do a flat finish on our painted brick exterior. Some may argue this, but we love it! The reason we chose this is that we felt as if any glossy finish made it look like plastic. This was not the look we were going for nor wanted.