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LIVING BETTER: Painting brick walls not a project for beginners


-123RF
-123RF

No question about it. Painted brick walls, whether exterior or interior, look great. It’s an upscale, elegant and very trendy look. That said, doing it right isn’t easy. It requires patience and care. Screw up the job and you have a serious mess on your hands.

In the paragraphs that follow, I’m going to give you the lowdown, the pros and cons on painting interior and exterior brick surfaces.

Exterior surfaces

Pros: Invest time in the prep work and sealing the surface carefully, and the face will have a fresh look.

You’re also protecting the exterior brick from the elements.

Cons: Don’t assume all bricks are the same. They’re not. There are many different types. Each requires a special approach for the prep and finish phases.

Start by cleaning off mould, dirt and mildew with a power washer and cleaning solution. That should do the job. If not, you may have to sandblast to get a uniformly clean surface.

Allow the brick to thoroughly dry for several days. Even if the surface feels dry, water is often trapped inside the brick, which will cause bubbling and peeling when painted.

Repair and fix cracks and make sure mortar is in good condition. Often a brick conditioner should be used, and then let it dry for several days.

Interior surfaces

Pros: Unlike painting exterior surfaces, the process is easier, far less labour intensive and there is less risk of encountering problems. An experienced painter can take a dull, traditional brick wall and give it new life. It will not only be brighter, it will have a modern new look. Even less experienced painters can give the interior brick a fresh new look. Contrasted to working with exterior brick, the process is much easier, and there is less risk of damage. For example, dirt and soot can be removed with mild cleaning solutions. And cracks in the mortar can be filled with paintable silicone caulking or similar latex fillers.

Cons: Once the surface is painted, you can’t return it to its natural look. Brick is porous and soaks up paint like a sponge. So, trying to remove paint will turn into a wasted, frustrating effort, because paint remnants will remain in the bricks’ cracks. Consider this important fact before undertaking this project.

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