Pros and Cons of Interior Brick Painting

With its unique texture and classic look, brick can be a beautiful feature in a room. Fireplaces and brick accent walls can warm up a space and add character. But they can also be a source of frustration for homeowners. Over time, exposed brick and mortar can flake, crumble, or just begin to look dated. Having it painted is one way to renew its look.

What to Know About Painting Brick Surfaces

interior brick painting

Before you paint a brick surface, it’s important to understand that once brick is painted, the change is permanent. Brick is a highly porous material that absorbs paint into every nook and crevice making it impossible to restore the natural brick color. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before painting your interior brick.

Pros of Painting Brick

1. Appearance

Painting brick fireplaces has become a popular project for homeowners who want to brighten up a space. If your old fireplace or focal wall is dark or drab, painting it a lighter color can brighten up a room. If the bricks have cracks, discoloration, or chips, painting them all one color can minimize the impact of these imperfections and make a room look clean and modern.

2. Inexpensive

Painting interior brick can be a cost-effective way to transform an entire room without replacing the entire brick surface. If red or brown brick doesn’t work for your personal style, you can paint it any color you want. Or you can apply a whitewash or lime wash finish to let some of the natural brick color shine through. 

3. Easy to Clean and Maintain

A painted surface is almost always easier to maintain than an unpainted surface. Brick is porous and the pores can hold dirt, dust, moisture, and grease buildup. When the brick is properly cleaned, prepped, sealed, and painted, it is easier to keep clean.

Cons of Painting Brick

Most cons listed below apply if you decide to paint the brick surface yourself. They can be mitigated when you hire a professional painting contractor who is experienced in the art of brick painting. 

1. Preparation Can Be Time Consuming

Despite what you see on home improvement shows, painting over brick is not a quick DIY project. Brick surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned of dust, dirt, soot, and grease. After cleaning, brick must be allowed to thoroughly dry, which can take several days. All cracks and mortar issues must be repaired and any crumbling bricks should be replaced in order to ensure a professional finish.

2. Special Skills and Knowledge Required

Prepping and painting brick requires specific skills and attention to detail. Brick is heavily textured and special tools may be needed to handle its pits and crevices. Part of the challenge of painting brick is that you must also paint the mortar joints between the bricks. Paint drips along the crevices in the mortar which needs to be dealt with quickly. Different types of rollers, brushes, and sprayers, and paint formulations are required for different types of brick projects. 

3. It’s Irreversible

It is time-consuming and expensive to attempt to remove paint from brick. Brick absorbs paint into its pores, making it almost impossible to remove it once it has been applied. Though there are ways to remove paint from brick, the chemicals that are used rarely return the brick back to its original state. 

4. Underlying Problems Can Resurface

Understanding how to choose and correctly apply primer and paint designed for brick is essential for a high-quality and long-lasting finish. Unless the brick is in good condition and has been properly cleaned, primed, and painted, underlying problems can begin to resurface over time. Painting can actually make underlying issues worse by sealing the brick, allowing moisture to fester and make it difficult to repair mortar. 

To Paint or Not to Paint

The decision to paint brick interior surfaces is something that should be carefully considered. Brick has a natural beauty that many homeowners love. However, painted brick can transform an interior space so dramatically that some homeowners believe it's a desirable change. 

If you’re not sure what’s best for your home, an experienced professional can evaluate the condition of your interior brickwork and help you decide whether or not painting it is the best option.

Walla Painting is a locally owned business that specializes in residential painting, including painting brick surfaces. Our fully insured, bonded, and skilled painters are equipped to handle any size project. We are proud to have received Angie’s List Super Service Award 10 years in a row for our customer service and detailed workmanship. 

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