Exteriors

Published on September 5th, 2013 | by Henri

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Painting exterior brick

Q.    I would like to know your thoughts on painting exterior brick. I am in the process of evaluating different options of replacing the cedar siding on my 2-story split-level house. The house has a 3-foot or so high brick fascia topped with a limestone plate all around its perimeter.

This brick is a light shade of yellow, and will greatly affect (and limit) the choice of siding color. If you approve of brick painting, do you have any tips or gotchas to avoid ? Any ideas on how to keep the paint off of the mortar? Thanks!

A.    It is possible to paint certain types of bricks but the project is fraught with potential problems. If the bricks have a sandy-type feel to them, they cannot be successfully painted — the sand acts as a bond-breaker and the paint won’t stay on. If the bricks are smooth, they may be successfully painted, but if there is any moisture penetration either through the mortar joints, any joint with other materials, or from rising damp from the ground, the paint is likely to fail and you can end up with a mess. Paint adhesion also depends on how thoroughly clean the bricks are and the hardness of the brick surface. Yellow bricks may already have a coating on, making paint adhesion more successful.

Rather than paint, though, it is preferable to use a cementitious coating such as those made by Thoro. Check them out in a masonry supply house. The key to success is absolute cleanliness of the surfaces to be coated. The mortar joints must also be coated to eliminate any chance of water penetration.

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