The question asked in the title is certainly an important one. In most cases, the answer is yes.
But the conditions should be right, as should the brick surface itself. Many painting professionals advise homeowners to think carefully about putting paint on brick that has never been finished previously. This will be a semi-permanent finish, if not a permanent one, because of the porous nature of the surface. If you want to return your brick home to its original condition, it will mean the application of specific paint strippers or an acid removal product.
Even with the best of these stripping and removal products, it’s possible that your walls will never have their “new” appearance again. Be absolutely sure that this is what you want to do (and need to do) before you purchase the paint and other materials. If the previous owner has already painted the brick, then you can certainly apply the color that you want. But, as with any home exterior finishing project, preparation will be a key factor in your success.
When You Should Paint
There are situations in which it’s actually the best thing to do to exterior brick. If you like the current appearance, you might consider a clear coating to provide necessary weatherproofing. This will deliver two benefits: restoring the bricks without major change in how they look and stabilizing the surface of a porous material. It’s also important to remember that with brick material, the paint can begin to degrade rather quickly so you should be prepared to paint again sometime down the road (maybe in a year or two).
You’ve probably heard the standard advice in the real estate business, which states that the three most important factors are location, location, and location. You can apply a similar line of reasoning to painting your brick exterior. Focus on preparation, preparation, and preparation. This is important for any painting task, as mentioned earlier, but it’s essential for painting brick. One of the factors to consider involves how brick handles moisture.
More About Moisture
This material expels moisture in a process similar to breathing. A coat of paint will seal the pores of the brick “skin” and prevent this, meaning that the brick can be holding moisture in behind the paint. You must make sure that the weather conditions are nearly perfect and pay close attention to the appearance of the brick. If it shows obvious signs of moisture retention, you must take steps to correct this. Of course, when you paint a dry brick surface, you’re taking an important step toward keeping moisture out of those same pores.
If you’ve considered buying paint for masonry purposes and just starting in with your brush or roller, you might want to think again. Take a few minutes to talk to a professional who has worked with brick exteriors. You might be pleasantly surprised to hear him or her talk about paint that “breathes.” This means that moisture is allowed out but not allowed in. This is an entirely different type of coating so you should make sure that you fully understand how to apply it before attempting it on your own.