Painted brick exteriors are trending. The practice remains a topic of debate, especially in St. Louis, a city with a rich brick history. Hard-core preservationists argue against it. However, most brick created before 1870 was manufactured by hand very often with a much softer, more porous type of material that needed to be protected from the elements by paint.
Painted brick homes get a bad rap when the job is done without adequate prep work and improper materials. If you come across a freshly painted brick home during house-hunting, make sure paint was not used to camouflage problems such as cracks in mortar joints, soft mortar, or efflorescence (the white powdery substance on bricks that indicates a high level of moisture in the brick). If you are considering painting your home, there are some pros and cons you will want to consider.
- Curb Appeal. Painting your brick home can give it a modern, updated look and make it more attractive. If your brick are an unattractive color or you have too many different materials/color elements going on – paint can solve that, providing some uniformity.
- Protection. Painting your brick home can help to protect it from the elements and make it more durable, provided proper materials are used.
- Cost. Painting your brick home can be cheaper than replacing it with siding.
- Time & Cost. Painting your brick home can be a lot of work and usually requires professional help.
- Risk. If the home is not properly prepped and the correct primers and paint are not used, moisture could get trapped and damage the brick.
- Maintenance. Painting your brick home can be expensive and will probably require a new paint job every few years.
- Resale. If you decide to sell your home, potential buyers may not like the painted brick.
- Permanent. After you paint your brick house, you can’t go back to its original brick exterior. You can paint it a different color, but stripping or sandblasting is costly and can permanently damage brick.
Finally, make sure you research the local codes. Many historic districts have strict ordinances on home exteriors and painting brick may not be allowed.