Painting exterior brick is an attractive, on-trend home upgrade—but it also has its drawbacks.
Painting exterior brick is a distinct design choice that can completely change the visual appeal of your home. Brick buildings are tried-and-true classics in terms of durability and longevity, and exposed brick accents are wildly popular for interiors. For exteriors, though, homeowners are more and more often turning to painted brick as a relatively simple curb appeal upgrade with major impact.
Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper helped to popularize the painted brick look: She applied it often to brick structures with faded, outdated exteriors, typically painting the brick white but also exploring darker shades, almost always with a contrasting trim color for an eye-catching final look. And while the final product was undeniably stunning, copying the look is more difficult than Gaines makes it look on TV—and there are some considerations to take into account before you make the plunge.
First, the pros: It’s relatively inexpensive, and like most curb appeal updates, it can increase your home’s value with just a day or two (more if you DIY) of labor. Painting and sealing bricks—when done properly—can provide an extra layer of protection against rain, snow, and wind, helping to slow the fading and deterioration of your home’s exterior. And painted brick is easier to clean than natural brick is, as the unsealed, porous material can trap dirt and debris.
All good things, right? Don’t forget these cons: Mainly, that there’s no going back. Once you paint your brick, it has to stay painted. You can change the color, but you can’t return it to its natural hue. Five Star Painting’s experts say it is nearly impossible to reverse, and attempting to do so can be incredibly costly.
Painted brick is easier to clean, yes, but dirt and debris are more visible against the smooth surface, so you have to clean more often (preferably with a power washer). And the paint can wear away and chip, so it’s recommended that you repaint the surface every five to seven years to ensure both that the brick underneath is protected and that your home’s exterior continues to look crisp and clean.
Knowing all this, do you still want to paint your brick? It’s a worthy home upgrade if you’re willing to deal with the drawbacks, but the fact that it’s irreversible means you can’t go back if trends shift. If you can’t commit just yet, there are smaller, less permanent changes you can make to your home—you can always start with those and work your way up to more lasting upgrades.