Is painting brick a good idea?

Bricks will absorb moisture from the interior of a home and they need to be able to expel that moisture; applying paint to the exterior can cause the paint and masonry to lift, peel or crack as it can become susceptible to freeze thaw cycles in cold climates. Beyond just aesthetics, moisture trapped inside a brick facade can also affect the strength and integrity of mortar, putting the entire wall surface in jeopardy.

Repainting bricks and masonry on the exterior of a house should be done with careful consideration of the products you use to avoid having to watch your paint peeling and chipping in the near future. 

What kind of paint do you use for brick?

Let's start with what NOT to use - never paint bricks with standard oil or latex paint, it will trap moisture inside and cause the paint to peel and chip. The problem lies in the fact that bricks are porous, and they need to remain so. In order for them to function properly, there cannot be a 'waterproof' coating applied that prevents them from drying to the exterior.  

Some mineral paints are compatible with masonry, though they aren't as common in the North American building industry. Paints and dyes for bricks based on silica have been used successfully in Europe for more than 50 years. There is one North American manufacturer we know of that meets German industry standards, a company called PermaTint. If anyone stumbles over another similar brand please let us know in the comments section below.

What kind of paint do you use for brick?
Refinishing bricks and masonry - before and after © Perma Tint

How mineral paint for brick works:

Rather than forming a coating on the brick, these waterborne mineral paints cause a chemical reaction that permanently binds them to the brick substrate. These are silica-based products that are biocompatible with bricks and stone and are actually absorbed into the surface of the brick. 

The pigments of these mineral paints are natural inorganic iron oxide and are unaffected by UV rays. They are also resistant to frost and prevent the formation of fungi and molds. Applying mineral paints and dyes to bricks should offer you a maintenance-free service life of 20-30 years.

Silica paints and dyes are odorless, non-toxic and do not contain any volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In addition, they are incombustible, and in addition to being healthier, they are safer to work with. They can be applied to any masonry product, including the joints and mortar.

Does painting brick increase home value?

That depends on the condition of the bricks and the style of the neighborhood and surrounding homes. But if you are hoping to increase home value, painting exterior brick cladding likely won’t do it in all but the most extreme case of either damaged bricks, or just plain ugly ones! In fact, it is just as likely that painting brick will devalue your home. 

How much does it cost to paint a brick house? 

The average cost to repaint a brick house will likely run in the area of $5 USD per square foot to do proper job, so for a ball park price for a 2,500 square foot home you could expect to pay in the area of $10,000.

This will of course depend on the extent of preparation work required. That would include things like access – is it a single story house that can be done from a ladder, or will there be multiple levels of scaffolding required? You also need to consider the condition of the brick, as you may need to pressure wash it first, and possibly do some repair to the joints and mortar.

For material cost, remember that mineral paint for refinishing exterior brick costs about double that of a standard can of interior paint. If you are seeking a quote from a professional to paint a brick house, be sure that they are price-quoting using a breathable paint or you will be back at it in as little as a few years. 

So that covers how to repaint and refinish bricks and masonry. To learn about other home renovation topics such as  Siding Types & Costs: Which is Best? How to Choose Siding?When to replace old Windows when Renovating or How to install siding so walls can dry, visit the Green home building guide pages at, North America's trusted green building website.