Don’t Fall for the Painted Brick House Trend (It’s a Trap!)

Closeup of painting brick wall with white paint roller.

Painted brick houses have become increasingly popular in the last decade. In fact, there are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to painted brick house ideas. These houses may look great in photos, but they hold an important secret you need to consider. Read on to learn why you shouldn’t paint your brick house.

Bricks Need to Breathe

Exterior brick acts as your home’s first defense against precipitation. The porous mortar on the sides of the bricks provides a channel for water to run through and evaporate. If your bricks are covered in paint, they don’t have a chance to breathe. Any water that gets trapped behind could result in mold or construction damage.

Furthermore, if you live in a harsh winter climate as we face in Michigan, your bricks are likely to expand and contract with temperature changes. Painting your bricks prevents them from doing this, which results in cracking later on. Leave your bricks natural and you can bypass this concern.

Painted Bricks Hide Costly Damages

Paint may be masking big issues below the surface. For instance, let’s say your mortar is starting to wear and needs to be replaced in a few years. The paint may cover some of the surface cracks, leaving the interior cracks to grow. If you can see the issues, you can fix them before they become an expensive nightmare. That’s not an option with painted brick.

Paint Will Make Brick Maintenance Harder in the Future

Most mortar needs to be replaced every few decades. This happens through a process called tuckpointing, where masons tool out the old mortar and fill it in with new materials. If your mortar is covered in paint, it will be significantly harder to replace – and you’ll have to paint it to match the house again! Save yourself the hassle by keeping the bricks as they are.

Paint Fades with Sun Exposure (Your House Will Be Multiple Colors)

Even if you paint your bricks white, you’re going to have sun fading over time. One part of the house may look freshly painted, while the other side looks dull and dingy. Sun fading is a guarantee, no matter what type of paint you use. Your beautiful bricks may not look so pretty in years to come.

Painted Brick Houses Are Going out of Style

Think about how many times you’ve seen a white brick house with black trim and wood accents. That’s a staple in exterior home design right now, and it will soon be a dated look from the 2020s. Painting your bricks a neutral color can ease the transition between trends, but ultimately, your painted brick is going to look “old” after a few years. Invest that money in other areas that can yield a longer timeframe for return.

Alternate Ways to Change the Look of Your Bricks

If you absolutely hate the look of your bricks, there are ways to change their appearance without paint. Perhaps the most common option is brick staining, which still allows the bricks to breathe like they need to. The stain is less opaque than paint, so it doesn’t shield the bricks quite as much. You can either stain the entire exterior or stain each brick individually to preserve the mortar color. Make sure to test the stain first before committing to a widespread project.

Another option would be to get new surface mortar in a different color. Perhaps you want a bright white mortar that pops against the bricks, or maybe you want a dark mortar color for a moody touch. As long as the mortar is still able to get airflow, you can change the color without compromising your bricks.

Finally, you may want to change the color of non-brick features, such as your trim or siding boards. The colors around the bricks will drastically impact how the brick colors are defined. If you hate the pink undertone in your bricks, choose a trim color that accentuates a different tone. If you want to make the bricks pop, select a contrasting siding color. Play around with color pallets until you find a look you love.