Painted Brick Yes or No?

German Schmear Dry on Faux Brick JENRON DESIGNS

Painted Brick Yes or No?

This month on ASK THE DESIGNER: Painted Brick Yes or No?  What are my thoughts about it, the pros and cons, and should you do it?

ASK THE DESIGNER: Painted Brick Yes or No? While I love the look, I personally think the idea of painting over a natural brick or stone is not the best idea for many reasons. Along with all segments of design, it will eventually become “a dated look”, and then you will be stuck with the decision. Although this is true in all areas of design, good examples to be sited are shag carpet, berber carpet, carpet in general, wallpaper of any kind, tile, parquet wood flooring, eventually shiplap will also end up there as well… are you seeing my point?  While carpet and wallpaper are relatively easy design choices to correct, sandblasting your brick or stone is not. Reversing this choice can be a messy and very expensive endeavor. So whether it is painted on the inside or the outside of your home, sadly I feel like it will eventually become a design regret at some point.Curb Appeal JENRON DESIGNSI will say that I do love the idea of refreshing older colors of brick on existing homes, as do most all interior designers that I know, and I can absolutely see that appeal. However, in new home building applications, I feel like you are doing yourself a disservice, and you are automatically dating your home in a way that can never be recovered, as far as fair market real estate value is concerned.  It is like an automatic depreciation upon closing by having this type of finish in or on your home over a dated brick color, which is a complete scam on the part of home builders right now. If you want white brick go with white brick or gray brick, it is available, look it up online. Do not let a new home builder talk you into painting over a red or pink brick because it is currently not a popular choice, just for them to save money on your home build, it devalues your home.  This is a trend I do not agree with at all, and think home builders should be ashamed of this unethical and shady practice. Ivory Brick As far as exterior painting I also have seen a lot of really bad applications of painting over a natural stone or brick surfaces, which do not adhere very well, and flakes off or peels over time looking even worse than the original color of the stone or brick you hated so much to begin with, so it is only a bandaid fix. I have been privy to many of them and have been called in on consultations for viewing these horrific outcomes of the incorrect applications, for a professional consult. So buyers beware, not all painters know what they are doing either. Make sure that you get a warranty on all painted brick and stone from a company that has been around awhile, because the other common issue is to promise the moon and then they move out of state, never to be seen again.White BrickAs a certified faux finish artist there are some ways to address natural stone or brick color that you no longer love, with Lime Washes, Stains, or Acid washes which are designed to penetrate the porous stone surfaces. Unfortunately paint in general is probably not going to be the right choice in most cases. Unless you are going for that flaky, chippy look where the underlying stone or brick becomes exposed again over time. Similar to that of a German Schmear application, which will in time, will  eventually become a dated design trend as well.

As a side note about Limewash- here in Georgia Lime Wash techniques have a tendency to grow mold and mildew due to the humidity levels. This technique was originally done in drier aired states like Texas, Arizona and Nevada for those reasons. Therefore the maintenance you will need to upkeep a whitewashed or Limewashed brick may not be what you were expecting, so keep that in mind. 
Industrial Faux Brick with german schmear JENRON DESIGNS

Another thought to keep in mind when painting brick facades, especially in outdoor applications like porches, pathways, or especially steps, the paint can become very slick when wet. Making the surfaces very dangerous, almost like ice. This can pose a myriad of issues during rain storms or even when the slightest bit of morning dew has been deposited on these surfaces. So in that respect try to keep it off of the horizontal surfaces that do not have a lot of texture on them.  Smooth brick is probably one of the worst applications I have seen with this particular hazard, and should have a compound like sand added into the paint to rough up the texture. However this will eventually cause a cleaning issue further down the road as well, like any textured surface similar to stucco, these surfaces tend to hold mold and mildew in the crevices, so keep that in mind. Plus pressure washing or cleaning painted brick is out of the question as well as it will strip off the paint so you will be stuck with the mold.Black Brick JENRON DESIGNSHonestly painting brick is really just a personal choice, and while I personally do not recommend it in most cases, as long as it is done properly the outcomes can be very nice. Lets face it, all design will eventually become dated at some point. At the end of the day it really just matters if you are happy with the final result for your lifestyle. Also brick does not always come in all the colors you might want like a black, navy, or hunter green so in those scenarios paint is your only option. Just make sure that you are a making a well informed decision based on all the facts out there. I have done several faux applications of painted brick to achieve an aesthetic look for an interior space, which can easily be removed upon the trend passing, which makes the room current and modern, but not a design nightmare for future design projects.

Want a second opinion? Well funny enough after writing this piece Southern Living Magazine even chimed in on the topic, stating they also believe this is dying trend ruining neighborhoods as well, and that it is completely over used, you can read the entire article at the link above. See I am not alone in my trend forecasting, just ahead of the curve.

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  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I don’t currently have any brick in my home, but I do like the look of it and would certainly consider it in my next home, especially if we move to the desert southwest. So I am glad to know this about painting brick.

  2. Julie it has become a huge trend here in the south and unfortunately a lot of new home builders are using “shortages” as excuses to paint rather than order the proper color of brick to make more money on their side, which is so unethical for the buyers that have no idea how this will effect them down the road. I am just trying to educate the masses at this point.

  3. I do like painted brick walls but I didn’t know home builders were so shady, that isn’t cool

  4. I actually love painted brick! A friend of mine recently painted her fireplace and it’s stunning!

  5. Karen

    I love the look of painted brick but there’s not much of it around us in the suburbs of Chicago.

  6. Yikes! I imagine a poorly done job would be hard to fix. Good tips for what to look out for. Thank you!

  7. Love the look of bricks! Great ideas about painting bricks, they look cool

  8. I have to agree with you, I love the natural color and texture of brick and prefer not to paint it. The beauty of it is all its rustic details.

  9. I know it really is not cool at all. While I have not listed the particular nationwide builder that is practicing this in my area as a business courtesy,they are not the only ones doing it. I strive to inform buyers which is really something the real estate agents should be versed in as well to protect their buyers. Painters are also guilty as well by upselling in these areas that then disappearing down the road when you have issues. Honestly it is like the stucco crisis all over again…

  10. I’d also incline towards the natural look. Love looking at building, decorating etc photos. I always smell the materials through the photos.

  11. Monica Simpson

    I agree if it’s done properly it can be beautiful. But in most cases I say leave the brick alone.

  12. Karletta

    You make some very good points. I’m convinced. And coming from a shag pile as a kid era, after reading your article I’d steer clear of painted brick – it makes sense to go for the color you want in the first place.

  13. I’ve always been obsessed with the look of painted brick. After reading this, I’m having second thoughts.

  14. Funny enough it is not all it is cracked up to be and without the proper research you can really mess up the exterior of your home very quickly. It reminds of the stucco fad in the 90’s where it all flaked off people’s homes and it become a nightmare, no one would buy stucco homes.

  15. Amber Myers

    Oh nice. I need to do this in our front yard. The bricks are blah.

  16. Monica Simpson

    I change my mind so much when it comes to home decor. If I painted brick guarantee I would hate it and want it back to natural in about 2 years after painting it.

  17. I’ve always liked painted bricks, and I love you made yours look like marble

  18. I know it is such a permanent design choice so while I understand why homeowners want to upgrade for a new look, the overall market is saturated with too many homes doing this right now. I am truly afraid that alone has many it one of the worst design choices of this decade and it will go down like shag carpet of the 70’s and ugly wallpaper of the 80’s it will be painted brick of the millennium 20’s…

  19. Awww thank you, so mine is a faux paneling that I added a joint or mortar compound over to look like a version rustic stucco. It is a technique called the:
    German schmear– depending on the desired look, a mixture of wet mortar is troweled or painted onto the surface of your brick. Then, before it’s completely dry, some of it is wiped off to expose parts of the brick.

  20. Tisha

    I do love how the painted brick looks, but also love the authentic look as well. I guess it depends on the esthetic you are going for in the house

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