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Painting exterior brick, why!?
Old 11-09-2015, 11:12 AM   #1
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Painting exterior brick, why!?

Recently, a fad in my almost 40 year old neighborhood has surfaced.

Painting exterior brick.

Then, I took a ride down to a different area where they are building McMansions, and found brand spanin' new houses are being built with brick that is immediately painted.

What? Why? I must be old. I bought a brick house to AVOID constant maintenance.

So is the new fad to encourage expensive and difficult maintenance? I must really be out of the loop on this. I'm just baffled.

Is this trend occurring elsewhere in N. America?
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:28 AM   #2
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I'm the son and brother of bricklayers--definitely agree!

But, it is not a new thing. Whitewashing of brick structures has been common for many years. Other colors as well, even red. Here is a post regarding historic structures that posits many reasons as to why one might paint brick buildings: Brick Houses | Old House Web

I still don't need to like it though.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:30 AM   #3
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I wouldn't call it a new fad since there are a lot of big old brick houses in established neighborhoods of the south (I'm thinking Buckhead and Myers Park) that have painted brick. I bought one of those once, but like you, would much rather have had unpainted brick. Not only did I have to periodically paint, the paint didn't always adhere very well, so required touch-up in between paintings. I'm in a brick house now, and wouldn't ever consider painting it.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:33 AM   #4
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I don't think it ever looks good. We don't have a lot of brick houses where I live, but we do have a lot of old stucco homes. People paint these too, but I don't think that ever looks very good. The paint keeps it from breathing too. It should be redashed if you want to freshen things up.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:35 AM   #5
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We have some brick facing on the front of our house - and also had a 60's era brick wall on the fireplace wall. The bricks weren't left natural - about every 5th brick was whitewashed. Our front porch still has that, but we removed the brick from the fireplace wall for seismic load reasons. (and reinforced the chimney to boot - part of a big earthquake retrofit DH went through.)

Most of our neighbors have painted the brick. I'll admit - I wish the brick was all "brick" colored - but since the house was built we've got this faux faded whitewashed look.

It doesn't bother me if someone wants to make an aesthetic change to their house - they own it, they have to maintain it, it's their money and hassle.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:35 AM   #6
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An architect once told me that if you have "chicago common" brick - especially reclaimed brick, it is soft and needs to be sealed or painted. Don't know if that was true. He explained that it absorbs moisture and the brick tends to kind of pop off by layers in the freezing weather. We looked at a house that had a brick wall that was doing exactly that.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:40 AM   #7
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There is a big new house a few blocks from us and the exterior surfaces are some kind of plank siding, some big flat panels, some shakes, and some brick. Everything was painted white. I have to say it really looks nice but what a pain to maintain when it starts needing repainting.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:41 AM   #8
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An architect once told me that if you have "chicago common" brick - especially reclaimed brick, it is soft and needs to be sealed or painted. Don't know if that was true.
I'm talking about good old hard southern brick in this case. Seriously, NC brick is good stuff and tends to hold up well. The thaw/freeze cycles are less significant.

I grew up in Chicago and kind of understand that common brick. It was soft in comparison. I saw plenty of it painted, but it was always a disaster. Just painting over crumbling, effervescing brick won't solve anything.

I can kind of understand a few of the houses being painted in my neck of the woods. But what really gets me are the brand new houses being painted. And these are not pre-fab panels. It is regular brick in front of wood frame (called "veneer" here, although the thickness is standard brick size).
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:56 AM   #9
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The one place where I see a lot of houses with painted exterior brick are posh and usually older neighborhoods. I think it is done for aesthetic purposes, and those people can probably afford the extra maintenance costs.

I have a house with full brick siding. I like the color of the brick on my 40-yeal old house, but some of the newer houses have this really ugly, almost maroon brick siding which I dislike. But generally, it's is pretty low maintenance - unless you have settling problems.
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Old 11-09-2015, 11:56 AM   #10
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Joe - why does it bother you what others do to their own houses? Not trying to be argumentative, but you seem rather passionate about this.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:22 PM   #11
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Joe - why does it bother you what others do to their own houses? Not trying to be argumentative, but you seem rather passionate about this.
rodi: I'm making conversation. I could care less what people do. We have pink houses in our neighborhood, and I don't care. I love being in a neighborhood that has no HOA, so people do as they please, within the limits of city code.

So, paint away. Doesn't bother me!

I guess my "passion" comes from my logical side. If you read my posts, you know I am an engineer. Painting brick makes no sense to me. In other words, "it gets" me. Perhaps that phrase was misconstrued. Sorry.

To other other side of the brain people, it must make sense!

So rodi, why do you have a problem with me making conversation?

Edit: forgot to add the to my last line.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:39 PM   #12
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My ranch house was built in 1959, and has pink brick (acutally something I think they called slump stone--a mixture of brick and concrete). Originally the wood trim was painted lime green (hey-it was the 50's), then yellow, then pink, and gray when I bought it (verified the colors by sanding down bad spots before painting). I did the gray for a few years, then went to dark brown, which helped deemphasize the pink. Luckily the pink has faded over the years, but I would never think of painting it. Gotta agree with JoeWras.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:44 PM   #13
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I wasn't trying to be argumentative... just trying to understand your frame of mind.
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:51 PM   #14
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Parents had house in KC suburbs that not only had painted brick, it was "drooping mortar," as in not pointed after laid. Well, drooping. As a teenager I got to paint it once, and let me tell you, I can't imagine anything harder to paint than drooping mortar brick! Like JoeW, engineer here who values practicality. Worked in water and sewer utilities, and could never fathom why some idiots painted concrete tanks. I mean really?
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Old 11-09-2015, 12:55 PM   #15
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Parents had house in KC suburbs that not only had painted brick, it was "drooping mortar," as in not pointed after laid. Well, drooping. As a teenager I got to paint it once, and let me tell you, I can't imagine anything harder to paint than drooping mortar brick! Like JoeW, engineer here who values practicality. Worked in water and sewer utilities, and could never fathom why some idiots painted concrete tanks. I mean really?
Drooping mortar? Oh no! That's more crazy stuff!

I'm glad rodi asked me about what makes me tick. It got me thinking... It is a GOOD THING we have non-logical people out there. If the world were built completely by engineers, well, there would be no whimsy and other fun stuff that tickles our brain in different ways.

Still, I'll keep my whimsy away from my bricks and mortar, thank you.
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:21 PM   #16
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...
I'm glad rodi asked me about what makes me tick. It got me thinking... It is a GOOD THING we have non-logical people out there. If the world were built completely by engineers, well, there would be no whimsy and other fun stuff that tickles our brain in different ways. ...
I would not assume that engineers, or other tech/logical people have no whimsy. I know plenty of engineers who are musicians or are involved in arts of one form or the other. I think some techie types actually can get more whimsical than others, as they need an outlet from all that logic once in a while.

But yes, it would be boring, and probably a dangerous world f we all thought alike! And there'd be no need for these forums, we would already know what everyone would say about everything!

-ERD50
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Old 11-09-2015, 01:24 PM   #17
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Back in St. Louis in the 1950's, it was apparently a cultural thing in some newly lower class neighborhoods for the new residents to paint their brick homes the most gaudy, flourescent colors - - brilliant fuchsia pink comes to mind. This was the same crowd that put junk cars in the front yard and never mowed.

My father nearly got ulcers when seeing this! He just hated it. I kind of do, too, probably because of listening to his opinions.

Back in 2002 when I bought my former home - - the one I sold in August - - I viewed but rejected another very nice home because of the painted brick. It was painted a brilliant, shocking shade of green. But you know what? The people who bought it painted the brick a light green, almost white, that blended in with the plantings and actually looked OK. So that taught me a lesson; even painted brick should not have been a deal breaker for me.
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:17 PM   #18
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:29 PM   #19
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I am not a fan of painted brick. I could see where I might paint brick on a house depending on the situation/circumstances, but in general I don't think it is a good idea. Far more likely would be my trying to persuade my client to remove it, or cover it, rather than paint it. My first house in Seattle they had painted the interior brick at the fireplace, and I hated the look. For me there are several reasons, 1) it was low maintenance and now you need to maintain it, 2) in my opinion most brick looks best in its natural state and looks odd painted, 3) I prefer (as an Architect) to try and keep materials as honest as I can, and brick is such a beautiful material when used correctly. 4) I honestly don't care what people do to their own places, BUT that doesn't mean I won't judge them! No different than if I saw you putting a spoiler on the back of a car. Your car but I reserve the right to laugh at you!

In general when you leave good materials the way they were intended to be, they last longer in my experience. Thus you don't paint vinyl siding, you don't paint brick and you don't spit into the wind....wait got into a Jim Croce song there for a moment.

But in general I agree with the OP.
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Old 11-09-2015, 04:51 PM   #20
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A former friend of mine has a company that he founded that does this professionally. Some of the results he has had are stunning. It is a great concept for otherwise worn out or tired brick that would otherwise need incredibly expensive and long restoration work.

I rented a house from him for about 5 years. He had painted that as one of his initial jobs back in the late 90s. It was only now beginning to show wear and from the street distance (25 feet away) you couldn't even tell it had been painted. You had to get up close to it to even see it and even then it still looked good.

He has done jobs all over Ontario, the MidWest and in the South. The last few very large jobs he has had have been in small, touristy RustBelt towns that are trying to gentrify and reinvigorate their downtowns. He makes some of these old "Victorian Ladies" look like they were made yesterday.

And don't forget. The Victorians (and Edwardians) loved garish colors and multi-tone effects. This would have been right up their alley.

For new houses ? Meh. A fool and his money........
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