Painting Brick

The Pros and Cons of Painting Brick
In the world of home design, there are generally two types of people. There are those who go into a home with traditional elements, like woodwork and brick, and have the desire to preserve these features. On the other side of the fence, there are designers who go into homes with traditional features with a crowbar and a sledgehammer, ready to demolish things they consider dated and replace them with modern elements. The wonderful thing about the design of a home is there is no ‘wrong way’ to do it. The look of a home hinges entirely on the homeowner’s preferences, so the decision to keep original features or get rid of them is a completely personal one.
When it comes to brick, getting rid of structures or elements all together can be extremely expensive or completely impossible. Whether the brick is an integral part of the home’s structural design or it is a functional structure, like a fireplace, getting rid of brick isn’t an option sometimes. The most obvious choice when brick becomes a pain to live with is to paint it.
While painting may seem like a quick and easy way to get rid of the traditional brick look, there are many things to consider before picking up a paintbrush. Having an idea of the basics of bricks, such as where they are located, what type of bricks are being painted, and the condition of the brick to be painted are all crucial pieces of information for a successful paint job. There are also many pros and cons associated with covering bricks with paint. By considering these aspects of painting brick major mishaps can be avoided and homes can be painted and designed to meet the homeowner’s taste.Pros and Cons of Painting Brick
Even though it may seem like painting brick can only lead to good things, there are two sides that must be looked at before making such a big commitment. For every positive thing that comes along with putting paint to brick, there is a possible negative result to worry about, as well. When weighing pros and cons, it is always best to analyze the potential advantages and disadvantages and then carefully proceed with a plan of action.
Pros of Painting Brick

Gives the Home a New Look

Brick, especially traditional red and brown brick, can darken a space drastically. Dark spaces have the tendency to look smaller than they are. By painting brick, particularly in a brighter color, spaces will be given a more open, roomy feel. Painting over dark elements like brick walls or bulky brick fireplaces can completely transform the entire home.
On the outside of a home, the impact of painting brick is even greater. For homes that are made entirely of brick, painting the exterior surface is the perfect way to make a home look brand new and updated without having to reface or cover the brick in another material. For homes with brick foundations, painting the brick can help to match the rest of the home’s exterior, which gives the entire house a more cohesive look.

Adds Drama and a Focal Point

For many people, trying to hide brick with a color similar to the walls or brighten the brick with light paint isn’t the goal. Rather, they want to draw the eye to the brick. Painted brick can completely transform a space when used as a dramatic focal point. By painting a fireplace or exposed brick wall a drastically different color from the rest of the room, homeowners can create a focal point that draws the eye to the brick feature in a positive way.
The one caveat to this is that when dealing with a larger feature, like the biggest wall in the room or a particularly large fireplace, painting the brick a dark color can make the room feel significantly smaller. Also, painting large areas of brick in bright, unconventional colors can make the room more difficult to add in other design elements.

Less Expensive than Replacing Brick

Even where replacing brick is a possibility, it is a very expensive, time-consuming endeavor. Professionals will be required for brick removal and disposal. The settling of a house could mean that when the brick is removed other issues can arise that will need to be repaired. And, in the worst of scenarios, it may be discovered that, halfway through a project, there are underlying issues that prevent the full removal of the brick. This is a hassle and an expense that many homeowners cannot justify risking.
While exterior brick cannot be replaced without rebuilding the entire home, many people consider covering the brick with things like siding. While this may be a viable option, painting brick can be much less expensive and will give the home a more unique look than siding would.

Covers Unsightly Imperfections

Even when homeowners love the look of brick, the brick in question may be in such bad shape that it makes the entire home look rundown. In these cases, painting the brick can be a great option. For brick with cracks, discoloration, or chips, painting the area all one color can minimize the impact of these imperfections and make the home look refreshed and well put together.
It is important to remember that these imperfections can be a sign of bigger issues, especially in a foundation, so the condition of the brick should be closely inspected before painting. This will be discussed in more detail below.

Cons of Painting Brick
Must be Done Carefully

Painting brick, inside and out, is very different than painting any other surface. There is a lot of time-consuming, painstaking preparation work that goes into painting brick. Once the area is prepped, it is crucial that the right type of paint and painting materials are used.
Prepping the brick requires days of work. Power washing, scrubbing, and allowing the area to fully dry are just a few of the important steps that cannot be skipped. Painting brick is not something that can be done in one day.
Once the area is prepped, the correct paint must be picked out and the proper application materials and technique must be used. For this, especially on larger areas of brick, it is a good idea to consult with professionals so that the job is done correctly to achieve a beautiful result.

Could Hide Serious Damage

Sometimes things like cracks, white buildup, and chipping are minor issues due to settling, moisture, and other common problems. However, these unsightly signs can be hinting at serious underlying damage. Cracks should be monitored over a long period of time to ensure they aren’t getting any bigger. Cracks that do increase in size could be a sign of serious structural damage. The white buildup that forms on brick, known as efflorescence, which is created by water-soluble salt buildup, is oftentimes easily removed. There are some instances where this residue will return, so it is best to wait a while after removing the efflorescence to paint, just to be sure it won’t be a reoccurring issue.
When these issues are covered, many serious consequences can occur. The damage being covered could slowly worsen, but since it is covered by paint, homeowners won’t notice the damage getting worse. Paint can also trap moisture in the brick which can expedite the deterioration from moisture. By making sure that any unsightly characteristics are only surface issues and not a serious underlying problem, major damage and a lifetime of hassle can be avoided.

May Decrease Resale Value

Most people think of paint as a quick cover-up solution that can be easily reversed. Unlike other surfaces, paint on bricks cannot be easily removed, in fact, sometimes it’s permanent. Paint on bricks cannot be painted over easily, either. Since paint on brickwork is a relatively permanent feature, it could decrease the value of a home.
Many people love the look of brick, inside and out. If the previous homeowners have painted the exterior of their brick home, buyers may be less interested in the house. Also, for interior sections of the home, if brick is painted, especially in an undesirable color, it could make a negative impression on potential buyers. Additionally, people often associate painted brick with an attempt to hide damage, so that can affect the ability to sell the home, as well.

Underlying Problems Can Resurface

The unsightly issues mentioned previously, cracking, moisture, chipping, and more, are often the result of underlying issues. When this is the case, it is common for these issues to continue and make the paint on the brick look worse than the brick itself. For example, moisture can cause paint to bubble, chip, and peel away in large chunks. Then, in other spots, it can be almost impossible to remove. This can make removing all the paint, or trying to repaint it, a real nightmare.
For brick areas that are likely to look worse when painted, it is best to either leave the brick the way it is or, if the sight of the brick is unbearable, stain the brick. Stained brick will not peel or chip, but it can be a difficult project to DIY. For those who would like to explore staining options, it may be a good idea to reach out to professionals.

Enjoy the Look of Painted Brick
Once all the basics of painting brick are well researched and the pros and cons have been considered, homeowners can make their decision about whether they would like to paint their brick. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly. The decision to paint brick can be a permanent one and painting brick is a time-consuming endeavor.
When the positives outweigh the negatives and painting brick is the obvious choice, painted brick can make a home look bright and updated. The options when painting brick are nearly limitless, so a whole new look is just a few buckets of paint and a bit of hard work away.

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