Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

Moderators: oldhouse, TinaB, Don M, Schag

Post Reply
Jill Tyler
Posts: 73
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:18 am
Location: Providence, RI
Contact:

Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Post by Jill Tyler »

My house is being painted and as part of the job they proposed to repoint and repaint the foundation bricks.

I chose not to go with another estimate from a company that specialises in preserving old houses because I can't afford that level of restoration. At great expense, over $7,000, they would remove the old paint with lead safe stripper, repoint with mortar to match the original and apply some sort of sealer.

My question is should I forego having the bricks repainted?

I know the bricks have to be repointed but would there be any consequences for leaving them unpainted other than that some people whould think it looked a little less neat?

If it cost so much to have paint stripped off, it doesn't make sense to repaint unless the paint provides some sort of seal to maintain the bricks.

stuart45
Posts: 52
Joined: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:08 am
Location: Somerset, England

Re: Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Post by stuart45 »

It's normally best to avoid painting bricks if possible. Paint develops small cracks over time which allow in moisture which tends to get trapped and causes damage to the brickwork. Limewash is a breatheable coating as is claimed or some modern masonry paints though.
Another problem with painting brickwork is that you need to keep doing it every 5 years or so, whereas brickwork tends to look better as it matures.

chooseopen
Posts: 88
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:54 pm
Location: Canton, IL
Contact:

Re: Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Post by chooseopen »

I agree with Stuart. Paint traps moisture against the brick which causes the paint to fail and the brick to breakdown. That said, my 1896 home has seen the brick painted many times. Unfortunately, once someone paints it, it if nearly impossible to completely remove. I am saving that work for another summer. lol
stuart45 wrote:It's normally best to avoid painting bricks if possible. Paint develops small cracks over time which allow in moisture which tends to get trapped and causes damage to the brickwork. Limewash is a breatheable coating as is claimed or some modern masonry paints though.
<br />Another problem with painting brickwork is that you need to keep doing it every 5 years or so, whereas brickwork tends to look better as it matures.

Sent from my Nexus S 4G Using ForumTouch for Android

lovesickest
Posts: 104
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:49 pm

Re: Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Post by lovesickest »

However, some homes were built with an inferior grade of bricks, with the expectation that they would be painted.

My home (1873) had a bay window added and some gussying up done to the front exterior in late victorian times. The house had already been painted several times over the last century. We had discussed having the paint taken off the bricks (NOT by sand or media blasting), but strongly suspected that due to the alterations that had occurred that there probably were going to be mismatches in the bricks, mortar color, etc.

I chose a neutral stonish color for the foundation, which had inexplicably been painted aqua (this was an olive green house) (ick!). As the painting progressed, many neighbors stopped to comment, and most were convinced that the paint had been removed from the foundation and they were seeing the actual stone color (nope -- "Quahog" from C2 paints).

One thing that should be seriously considered is the expertise of the painters, and how well they prep any bricks that will be painted.Good prep = less paint failure later.

If your brick foundation is looking somewhat rough with mismatched bricks, obvious sloppy areas of patching, etc. I think that painting the brick can improve the appearance. The $ 7,000.00 quote seems very pricey, but I guess this depends on the surface area as well as where you live...

CycloneOfRed
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:25 am
Location: Ionia, Michigan

Re: Opinions on painting brick foundations?

Post by CycloneOfRed »

My .02:

When you paint brick you are taking what is essentially one of the only maintenance free parts of your house (apart from possibly having to re-point once every century or so) and creating a perpetual and not particularly cheap or easy maintenance issue out of it...one that could potentially have a detrimental effect on the bricks as Stuart45 already mentioned. Furthermore, if you, or future owners don't like the paint, it is almost impossible to get ALL the paint off, and even removing what can be removed is only done with much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Laws of Home Repair:
1) It will be more difficult than you think.
2) It will take much longer than you think.
3) Murphy's Law is in effect tenfold.

Image

Post Reply