If you’re wondering why in the world somebody would want to paint over a perfectly good brick wall, you’ll find that half the professionals will be in agreement, so the question of how to paint brick walls is necessarily preceded by the question of whether you want to.
The balanced approach would probably be to keep the brick exposed while it looks good, and then paints it once it starts to have that cracked, chipped and faded look. That way you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
The key to a good paint job on brick lies in the prepping. There are several steps required to get the brick ready to accept paint properly. The first is the removal of white deposits called efflorescence, which is what happens when brick exudes its salts as an effect of being drenched and dried repeatedly. It is unseemly but easily cleaned. Use a wire brush over the area dry, and it’ll come right off.
The next step is to make sure that any cracks are widened with a scraper, cleaned out with a brush or power vacuum, and then caulked with either the pure acrylic or the silicone and acrylic kind. You’ll need to wait about five hours and then re-apply if required. Once you’ve done this look carefully for any damaged mortar joints that may need re-pointing.
The final prep step is to remove any mildew that may have set in over time. Bleach solution is perfect for nearly any surface. Scrub the solution over the affected areas and hose down thoroughly. Let the wall dry properly – with a capital P – a couple of days or more worth of dry weather should let the deep wetness go away. Now we can come to the question of how to paint brick.
If you haven’t done so already, go to the paint store for some latex primer for brick, or conditioner paint, and your choice of external paint. Primer or conditioner needs at least two coats, with adequate drying times in between. Areas of severe efflorescence may need more to bring the color to an even spread. Most professional house painters recommend the use of rubberized paint, which is an excellent water-repellent and will literally stretch itself to fill minor cracks. Again, two coats with adequate time in between.
Regular paint is fine too, but be sure to use the good stuff for exteriors. 100% acrylic latex paints come in matte, semi-gloss, gloss and satin finishes. Now that you know how to paint brick, you can go to town on the choice of colors.
However, it might be wise to choose a conservative color because if you’re unhappy with a garish color that you thought was going to look good when you bought the paint, you’ll be in a fix – repainting brick is neither fun not cheap. That is, of course, unless you like brash colors or don’t mind a little experimentation.