Deciding Whether to Paint Over Brick
For many of us, there’s nothing as lovely as brick. The textures and tones of a a nice brick wall can give a room or fireplace extra character, and can be the focal point of a home’s exterior. But what if you get tired of your brick, or never liked its color in the first place? There are options, like whitewashing (below), or painting over the brick altogether. But if you want to paint your bricks you’ll have to know these tricks.
“In general, I try not to paint brick,” says Kathy Basil, Hirshfield’s Design Resource Showroom Manager. She loves matching the colors in a nice brick, with a half-dozen subtle color choices for the room color. “But if it just limits me so much on what I can do as far as a color combination, then I will paint it.” In other words, when the brick is mostly one solid color – think of a dark red-orange brick or a mustard yellow – or the homeowners just hate the color, she’ll paint the brick to match the room rather than painting the room to match the brick.
Kathy has similar feelings about brick exteriors, particularly on houses that have a 50-50 mix between siding and brick. “If it’s a fabulous color and a good brick, I’ll always try to work with it,” she says, often matching the strongest color from the brick to make the two surfaces work together better. “But if the 50% is solid mustard yellow, I’ll ask how they feel about the color. If they hate it, then I just say let’s forget about it and we can paint over it.” Painting over the brick gives instant flexibility: “What do you want your house to be? Do you want a light house, a dark house, a green house? From there you just go with the color palette.”
Kathy has another trick, though, if you aren’t ready to paint the brick on an exterior with a 50-50 mix. “If I have brick that I don’t love, I just work with the grout color.” She points out that the grout makes up a surprisingly large portion of the brick area, so there’s a lot of color to work with, so “it looks like you intended to do that. It looks more intentional, more complete – you get a finished look, because all the sudden they like each other, rather the way a different color might fight with the brick.”
And what about the whitewashing we mentioned? That could take up a whole blog post on its own, but Young House Love has a nice writeup. The process is a bit like staining, wiping a thinner paint onto the brick and then rubbing it away, letting some of the brick’s original color come through the pigment. “When done well, it looks new,” says Kathy. “It looks like new brick.”
No matter how you want to handle your brick, come talk to us at your nearest Hirshfield’s location in Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. We have advice and product for all of your projects.
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