How to Paint Your Brick Home Exterior Like a Pro

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated January 25, 2022
White brick house gray roof
Photo: pics721 / Adobe Stock

It’s all in the prep work when it comes to this exterior makeover

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Difficulty: 4/5 — Only DIY if you know what you’re doing

Time to Complete: 3 days to a week (for cleaning, priming, and painting, depending on the home size, amount of brickwork, and its condition)

If you want to brighten up that tired, drab exterior of your home, slapping on a coat of masonry paint onto brickwork may seem like a no-brainer. However, painting brick on your own isn’t always advisable because of its porous nature. There are some things to know before painting a brick house—including lots of careful prep work to ensure a long-lasting, polished finish.

If you’re taking the plunge, this step-by-step guide will help you understand how to paint brick home exteriors the right way.

What You’ll Need: 

Tools

  • Soft bristle broom or brush

  • Power washer (optional)

  • Paint tray

  • Paintbrush or paint roller

  • Ladder

  • Drop cloths

  • Paint sprayer (optional)

Supplies

  • Soapy detergent

  • Fungicidal wash (optional)

  • Acrylic caulk or masonry filler

  • Masonry primer

  • Masonry paint

6 Steps to Painting a Brick Home

1. Decide If It’s Appropriate to Paint the Brick

Before buying gallons of paint, assess whether your brickwork is suitable for painting—and if you have the skills and commitment to do a decent job. Don’t forget that once you paint the brick, you’ll never be able to return it to its former natural appearance, even with expensive chemical removal treatments.

Plus, if excessive moisture gets trapped between the paint and the brickwork, this puts the structural integrity of your home at risk. Aside from this extreme prospect, moisture results in peeling and flaking paint, so you could quickly end up with a messier external home appearance than you had before the paint job.

On the other hand, poor quality or damaged brick that’s soft, highly porous, and more susceptible to moisture infiltration sometimes benefits from a coat of high-quality brick paint.

2. Clean and Prep the Brickwork

Red brick caulk repair
Photo: Ivan-balvan / Getty Images

You’ve opted to go for it, so now you need to clean and prep your home’s exterior for painting. Scrub off debris, dust, and any flaking paint with a soft bristle brush or broom if the brick has had a previous coat. Then, use a soapy detergent solution to clean away any dirt and grease. Using a power washer speeds up the process and removes any loose mortar, but don’t get too close, linger in one area for too long, or use it on a high setting.

Sometimes, moisture results in the brickwork having a thin crystal-like layer of deposits on the surface. Known as efflorescence, using a salt treatment to clear this away can be helpful. A fungicidal wash also helps remove mold and mildew. Rinse well with clean water after washing.

Repoint bricks where mortar has fallen off or eroded, as this type of damage makes them more susceptible to moisture infiltration. You can do any minor repairs using masonry filler or acrylic caulk, but both will need around a week to cure before any further steps are possible. Any major repointing or repairing is often best left to the pros.

3. Ensure the Weather and Bricks Are Dry

Paint won’t adhere to wet brick effectively. And if you don’t allow the brickwork to dry out entirely after cleaning, moisture ingress will be a greater risk and you could have problems with paint bubbling and cracking. Wait a few days after cleaning, and check the forecast so you have a dry day to work and no rain for a couple of days afterward as well.

4. Apply Primer

If your brickwork, old or new, doesn’t already have a seal or paint primer, this is a must-do job. It helps keep moisture out, provides a smoother finish and better adhesion, and you won’t need to apply so much paint because the brick won’t absorb as much. It likely hasn't had a primer treatment if water doesn't bead on the brick surface.

Use a high-quality masonry primer, which tends to have a thin consistency that absorbs well and offers good alkaline resistance. You may need to apply more than one coat in areas that collect mildew or efflorescence. 

5. Select the Right Paint

Grab paint bucket store green shirt
Photo: jchizhe / Adobe Stock

Because of brick's porous nature, you’ll need high-quality, breathable, weather-resistant masonry paint to prevent moisture from getting trapped. 

Elastomeric and premium acrylic latex paints with a life span guarantee of at least 10 years are a good choice. If in doubt, visit a store with an in-house expert who can advise you on the best brand, finish, and type for your situation. Select an appropriate exterior paint color and finish appropriate for your home and its surroundings, one that fits with your local homeowner association guidelines.

6. Apply Paint

Apply two or three coats of paint for an even finish and extra durability, and allow at least 30 minutes to an hour of drying time in between applications.

Applying with a spray painter is the fastest option over large surface areas, but getting the right spray painting technique can be tricky for beginners. Using hard-wearing brushes or rollers with a high nap (at least half an inch) often gives a better finish on highly textured surfaces. On large areas of textured brick, apply a coat with the sprayer, and then go over it with a roller to get into the crevices and cracks.

DIY Painting a Brick Home Exterior vs. Hiring a Pro

If your brickwork needs extensive repointing or repairing, you aren’t sure if you’re making the right choice, or you're confused about what to purchase, hire a professional exterior painter near you. The average cost to have a brick house painted professionally ranges from $3,500 to $10,500. This isn’t a job for the faint-hearted, and getting it wrong can leave you with more than just a messy-looking finish.

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