Painted brick on the exterior of your home

No one told us at the paint store that when you are buying exterior paint, not to paint on the chimney, that it would become the beginning of a whole host of problems. Now What?

– Tim S.
Hudson Valley, NY

Tim,

I am sorry to hear this. I agree that painted brick on the chimney will start a lot of unnecessary  problems. The simple solution of painting brick to simply change their color has hidden costs down the road. This is especially true on brick chimneys. A freshly painted brick house looks great when you first complete it. Your house may still even look great for four or five years. However, it may begin to look a little shabby on the chimney top as it blisters or bubbles up. The real problems are hiding beneath the painted surface, as the paint may be the only thing still holding the broken brick faces together. This is because the moisture within the chimney is trying to get out and the paint is trapping it beneath the surface.

 

Uh oh, moisture.

 

There lies the start of big problems. The moisture that is being trapped inside the bricks will expand with our normal freeze/thaw cycles. This creates a fatigue within the brick itself, crushing and breaking down the bricks from within. All brick masonry material needs to breathe. When we paint the brick, it seals them up way too tight. With a close examination by peeling back some of those blistered areas, it will reveal some serious brick and mortar damage. Replacing just a couple of “problem brick” on the chimney normally isn’t the answer and definitely will not solve your problems.

 

Areas on the chimney today may look perfectly fine, but may be hiding very saturated and weak masonry beneath this painted surface. I often tell my customers that they have a couple of choices to resolve their dilemma. They can repaint right over the damaged brick or when it gets to a point that they can’t live with this unsightly look on their home, the chimney can be dismantled and replaced with brick and mortar of a complimentary color.

 

In the past, we have done more replacement repair work by using white brick and white mortar then we have with any other color changes. Now here is the funny thing, some folks have had us rebuild their chimney, and then after our work was completed they had their painter just re-paint right over the same chimney again.

 

It’s that same old story, as history will surely repeat itself!!!


Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos

AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH

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Clay Lamb

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7 thoughts on “Painting Exterior Brick

  1. What about using a porous paint so the brick can breathe? Like using a breathable latex exterior, like Sherwin-Williams’ SuperPaint Acrylic Latex. Would this work?

  2. I feel “It might” be a viable option?
    Sherwin Williams has a line of products refereed to as DTM which stands for (Direct to mental).
    After reading deeper in to their product info, it sounds like it also will work on Masonry.
    I must say I have never found a breathable paint that I feel comfortable painting on to a brick surface (yet) .
    Clay

  3. Wow, I was just thinking about painting my chimney. Looks like that is a not a good idea.

    Thanks!

  4. Greetings Franz,
    When you have time, check out this video that we produced about “Painted Chimney Problems”
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment!
    Regards
    Clay Lamb author of:
    http://www.AsktheChimneySweep.com – Youtube Educational Videos
    http://www.FireplaceandChimneySupply.com – Professional grade Chimney products
    http://www.HomeContractorsHQ.com – Contractor Coaching Podcast
    http://www.AmChimney.com – GM @ American Chimney Sweep Cincinnati, OH

    https://youtu.be/07X6h5_qtbs

  5. years ago a mason ‘repaired’ our chimney (he replaced the upper 2/3 of the chimney). he used plain – not colored – bricks. the bottom of the chimney is white. what can be done?

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