Do you own a painted brick home that needs to be painted again? Is the color fading and your home is now the ugly duckling of the neighborhood? Maybe the paint is flaking and there are moisture issues that need addressing as soon as possible. Painting a brick home is a decision that can be influenced by more than just decorative factors. The right paint, the right prep-work and of course the right painters can all affect the outcome of your project.
An Important Question: Is it a Good Idea to Paint New Brick?
If the brick is in good condition, the colour blends in with the neighbourhood and paint is just the flavour of the day, then the answer is a definite No! In fact, there are a few reasons not to paint your brick home:
- You may damage the brick. Brick is intended to be the finish of your home, the outer element. It protects your home from the elements and its strength is well documented. It also has the ability to “breathe” which makes it the preferred material for wet environments such as rain and snow. By accidentally using the wrong paint, you can “choke” the brick by trapping moisture below the paint film.
- It can start peeling. The most important reason for paint failure is moisture. If there is an existing moisture problem, it needs to be addressed before any painting takes place. Another common mistake that painters do, is they are in a hurry to paint, without first checking the moisture of the substrate. You must always wait a few days after pressure washing the house or even after a rainfall. By using the wrong paint (non breathable), you can trap all that moisture behind the paint film.
- Respecting History. Some old brick has decorative design and is an integral part of the character of a neighbourhood. In older homes, especially homes of Victorian architecture, different elements were used to create a unified look of “frill” and character. Brick is often an integral part of that design and painting it would be disrespectful to the original intent.
- It’s difficult to “unpaint”. For some of us there are times when painting something was the wrong decision. If the problem is now that we used the wrong colour, fixing it is simple. Pick a better colour and do it again.
What if painting was a mistake and now you want to go back to the “unpainted brick” look? Brick is a very porous substrate and any paint will penetrate and adhere below the surface. Stripping the paint and restoring the brick is not impossible but one of the most difficult and costly exterior projects. Pressure washing and sandblasting is very aggressive and can be harmful to the brick. The best alternative is a chemical stripper and a lot of elbow grease.
Some Reasons to Paint Your Home Brick Exterior
- You just love the look of painted brick. There are many homes in Toronto, mostly older ones with painted brick. We recently painted a few ourselves in older neighbourhoods such as Riverdale and Cabbagetown. If you live in an older neighbourhood, Kensington is another one, painted brick is an accepted look of an older home.
- The house is already painted. If the brick is painted already, you need to maintain the paint job. If it is in good condition, gently washing the surface will improve the look. If the paint is faded, or starting to flake, it needs to be painted again. Painting previously painted brick is a skill that is better left to the professionals. Get involved in the colour selection process and make sure it blends in nicely with the neighbourhood. The most important decision to make at this stage, is choosing the right exterior painting contractor. Their product knowledge and prep methods can make all the difference.
- You hate the colour of your brick. Some brick colour is just plain ugly and keeping it like this does not agree with you. Painting it is a good solution, assuming all the moisture issues have been addressed and the right coatings are used. You may want to use the services of a certified colour consultant. If you have time, drive around the city neighbourhoods, looking for a colour you like. Keep in mind that the colour needs to work in your neighbourhood.
Before You Start Painting – Address any Issues with the Brick
Efflorescence. Efflorescence is a white powdery substance you can see on brick and other masonry surfaces. It’s not a dangerous substance and relatively easy to clean. You can clean it with lightly pressure washing or with a stiff cleaning brush. Efflorescence is not a big problem but a symptom of excess moisture in the body of the brick. Without addressing the moisture problem, it will reoccur and the surface will need to be treated each time.
Mortar Deterioration. After many years of exposure to the elements, moisture and wind erosion, the mortar starts deteriorating. Any faulty and missing mortar should be replaced. This is called repointing. Repointing should be done my an experienced masonry professional who is familiar with the right products and procedures.
Brick Deterioration. Sometimes bricks show signs of deterioration. They develop cracks at the mortar and often look like they are crumbling. The likely reason is years of exposure to the elements and moisture, as well as eroding mortar. If there is no structural reason for the deterioration, such as foundation settlement, the damaged bricks as well as the affected mortar should be replaced. Again this is a job for masonry professionals and not the average do it yourselfer.
Step by Step Procedure for Prepping and Painting Brick
- Carefully examine the condition of the surface, looking for weak mortar and signs of damaged brick.
- Pressure wash the surface with gentle pressure taking care not to further damage any weak areas.
- If previously painted, remove and sand any loose and peeling paint.
- Repair the mortar and replace damaged brick if required.
- Prime raw brick and mortar and paint, making sure that the surfaces are dry and cured.
- Use breathable paint, specifically made for masonry substrates.
- Caulk around window and door trim and paint trim.
Ecopainting – is a commercial and residential painting company, servicing the needs of our customers in the Greater Toronto Area (Toronto, Mississauga, Markham, North York and other cities within GTA). With decades of exterior experience, along with brick painting, wall painting, wallpaper removal. our services include wood repair, light carpentry and deck staining. We are leading in GTA and best in Toronto in terms of our services and quality of work we offers.
Please call us at (416) 733-7767 to book an appointment with one of our representatives.