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Community and Q&A

Painting exterior brick

guidoism | Posted in General Questions on

We have a single-story brick ranch house built in 1959 on a concrete slab. We live in Indiana, where we have considerable humidity in the summer and week-long stretches of freezing temps in the winter. 


The brick is in good shape, except for some discoloration due to old moisture staining in one corner of the house. We are considering painting the brick to give the house a more “modern” look, but we are concerned about the long-term effects of painting the brick, primarily: environmental impact, impact to the breathability of the house, and personal impact in terms of maintenance of a painted exterior.


We’ve read articles that strongly caution against painting exterior brick. They argue that paint prevents the brick from “breathing”, which could cause moisture problems down the road. Is this actually true? If so, is there exterior brick paint (or paint alternative) that allows the bricks to “breathe”? Could limewash a viable alternative? Between limewash and paint – does one have a “worse” short-term and/or long-term environmental impact?


We are leaning toward not messing with the brick and just painting the trim & gutters, but we want to fully understand the impact of painting or lime washing brick from both a building science and environmental perspective before making any decisions.


Thank you.

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    AKOS TOTH | | #1

    You normally stain brick, not paint it. If you do paint it, make sure to use a water based paint that is permeable. Painted brick was mostly problematic when the wrong material is used such as oil based paints.

    I'm not a fan of painted brick especially if you have nice brick, there is some brick is so ugly that it should be painted.

    If you do stain/paint, make sure to take care of any tuckpointing. Loose mortar can cause the paint to come off the mortar lines and looks terrible. Make sure to clean the brick before hand and allow at least a couple of days to dry.

  2. Expert Member
    NICK KEENAN | | #2

    The thing about painting brick is you just committed to painting it every five years for the rest of your life. I used to live in a neighborhood of brick houses where many of them were painted in the 20th century, and it was a popular thing to strip the brick so you didn't have to keep painting it.

  3. user-2310254 | | #3

    Mineral paint might be a better and more durable choice. I used Romabio to paint the cement siding on a previous house and it adhered like crazy and was very durable.

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