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Should You Paint Your Brick?
Think carefully before painting interior or exterior brick. Brick is chosen as a building material because of its durable and built-in color — of which there are more choices today. "Most brick was never intended to be painted," says Crocker. "Long-term, maintenance-free painted brick requires careful planning." According to the Brick Industry Association, if you paint your exterior brick, you should be repaint it every three to five years.
The quality of your brick also should determine your choice. Brick that's chipping, deteriorating, molding or in overall poor condition is always a bad candidate for paint. Paint blocks the natural pores in the brick's surface, which can cause existing problems to become exaggerated over time. "When water seeps in through the mortar, it also seeps into the brick through the inside, and since the bulk of the surface area is blocked, the moisture cannot evaporate off," says Zumeta. Often this causes the paint to chip off.
Also remember that removing paint from bricks is no easy process. Chemicals have to be used, and often the paint won't come completely off. If you don't like the look, you may be stuck with it.
The Best Paint for Brick
Keep in mind that exterior and interior walls should be treated differently, because exterior brick comes into contact with ground elements. The Brick Industry Association also advises using a porous paint for exterior brick walls, so the brick can breathe.
"Choosing a high-quality paint is vital for painting brick successfully," says Watson. Both Watson and Crocker recommend using specific masonry paint products for painting brick, starting out with a conditioner and a primer, and then using a breathable latex exterior or interior paint, like Sherwin-Williams' SuperPaint Acrylic Latex.
Zumeta recommends looking into having your brick professionally stained, rather than painted. Although it can be more expensive, a brick stain penetrates the pores of the brick, unlike paint, which simply sits on the surface. It creates new color without some of the long-term risks that come with paint.
More: How to Paint Brick Like a Pro