Comment of the Day: The Brick Canvas

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE BRICK CANVAS “Does anyone have a strong opinion on painting brick? We have an old complex that’s brick. Normally, if it hasn’t been painted I don’t like to paint it. But this brick is different colors (style of brick I guess) on each of the 3 building and it’s pretty ugly. I’ve debated painting it but I’m not sure if I’ll regret it and, as a second concern, I suck at picking colors so I don’t know what I would paint it.” [Cody, commenting on An Old Home for New Art in Hyde Park] Illustration: Lulu

34 Comment

  • Brick is painted all the time, in fact it’s a style, there’s a house for sale in Carlton Woods in the Woodlands for 19 Million and it was built a couple of years ago with random brick (which seemed odd at the time) but then painted white. The only thing I would make sure is to use paint that penetrates deep into the brick.

  • I agree. But our 50’s era house has brick in the front and it was a very bland beige/blonde color. Totally nondescript. We painted it 15 years ago and have had no problems with it. It’s faded just as much as the rest of the house (the wood siding) and hasn’t peeled or anything. We didn’t use a primer and probably could have as the brick absorbed quite a bit of paint. It’s time to repaint again and I foresee no more problems. We painted it ourselves with a sprayer and brush.

  • My strong opinion is that you should paint it with a Wagner and not a paintbrush, other than that just take a drive around West U or Southampton if you want to see that painted brick can be done right.

  • Cody – you need a gay friend who can pick out a color for you every now and then (that’s what I do).

  • Paint works if you avoid that “slathered with toothpaste” look that far too many employ when covering brick. If you’re going to do that, you might as well go ahead and stucco. With paint, it also helps to leave sills or lintels bare for accent purposes. The original brick on my house (built in the 20’s) is fugly — three colors, one of which was black. The former owner “glazed” the brick by sponging on paint and, since then, the glazing has weathered quite nicely. I’m not sure I would have bought the place with the original, unpainted brick.

  • Crazy idea that goes full circle – So far out there that it might just work:

    Cody – I know from many of your comments that a lot of your places are in neighborhoods with character. Why not hire graffiti artists to paint the brick? There’s a gallery (it called “Up Art Studio”) on North Main, in Sunset Heights, that specializes in emerging and street artists. Artists they’re affiliated with have done some murals in the neighborhood (with the owners permission) and have added a lot of character to the area. If your building is catering to the artistic or student crowd, this might be a workable idea. Yes, its kind of crazy. But its up to you to decide if its crazy good, or crazy bad.

  • If the wife and I ever get around to adding a third bedroom to our house, we’ll have to think about doing this. Our house was built in 1960 and the brick looks wonderful. I’d like very much to try to match the brick on the addition, but my understanding is that it’s very hard and often expensive to do. My hope is that I’ll find a contractor who knows where one can find reclaimed old brick that won’t cost a bundle.

  • This is the look you need:

  • It’s bad for the brick; since brick is porous, it normally breathes. Painting it can seal in moisture.

  • haha Old School found the building quickly.
    but if you’re not ready for that, also suggest driving areas mentioned plus Willow Meadows and Braes Heights, Woodside areas. Take photos, and paint large patches just as you might do with painting anything else.

  • To add to Texasota’s comment:
    Be sure not to paint over the weep holes unless your going to seal the wall cavity from moisture.

  • If you do paint – something light – cream – but NOT beige, pale yellow, pale blue, light green, or light grey. That would be my advice. White-washed brick can also look really cool if its not overdone – here are a few of both well done and overdone white wash brick. Muy southern.

  • Wow, thanks for the CotD plug and thanks for the advice!

    The property is 1624 Holman, 77004. Street view is old ( and we’ve done a lot since — but not paint. I would LOVE to paint it after reading these comments.
    If anyone wants to swing by and give me some specific color options I’ll get that bad boy painted next week. I did pick some colors I liked to repaint 3008 Truxillo (a mile away — don’t view google street view — it’s hopeless) but not sure they would work at Holman.
    FYI on Nov 9 we’ll have our 1 year anniversary from having purchased the place so right now we’re doing a LOT of exterior work (landscaping and such). SWAMPLOT IS INVITED! :)

  • Wow, that brick is beautiful! Not St. Joe brick, but similar to Rice University and the Orleans blend used at Jackson Barracks:

    The bright green paint is clashing and brings out the worst of the pink and orange brick. Leave the cast stone concrete door surround as is, paint the plinth foundation a light gray (no gloss) to match making it look like a proper water table, paint the windows a grayish blue-green (light or dark, depending on preference) to mimic copper patina, and you’re set! :)

    There’s no reversing painted brick. I would paint the building next door with the tan brick, but not your building.

  • Oh. We DID paint the green right after taking over. That wasn’t brick and was already painted so I wasn’t worried about it.
    And while we’re still working to make the buildings itself look better, it for sure looks a lot better than in the street view shot.

  • Walt, the building has a huge smoke stack from the giant old broiler (which is still there. Just not in use). That would be a fun paint project.

  • Wow. Cody, I love that building and my opinion is strongly to leave the brick alone. It’s artisic brick which isn’t seen much anymore. The varying colors and the section between the windows where the bricks were intentionally stacked in blocks as a counterpoint to the staggered bricks on the rest of the facade are touches done back when men were men and masons were masons. So you’d be taking a historic surface that is no maintenance and hiding it forever (paint doesn’t come off old brick) and converting into a common surface that is now needs repainting. Aren’t you glad you asked for input?..

  • I don’t think the brick is unattractive (from what I can tell in the photo), but I would definitely ditch the green and change the trim colors.

  • Usually, I’m against it. But, it sounds like this would be your best bet. Once, a million years ago, I was house shopping and the realtor showed me a house in Katy and the owner had painted their exterior brick red (RED), then painted the pointing white. Truly a prime example of bad taste.

  • Damn you Dana-x! :-)

  • I love the brick actually, especially the more pink/orange color. It goes well with the stone facade above the door. The biggest problem with both places, as others have mentioned, is the green paint. It’s definitely not working. IMHO, you can work with the brick, just change the trim colors. if you could power wash the outside brick and stone facade, it will look a lot better.

    Here is an inspirational pic of a building on the UT Austin campus. I would paint the green a more light grey/concrete color, or just do a light concrete facade on the bottom. If you could do turquoise accents, like metal planters on the bottom windows it could be nice.

    Good luck!

  • Here is the pic.

    copy and paste into your browser. :)

  • I agree with Dana. Leave the brick as is, but paint everything already painted green a different color. That particular shade of green looks terrible on the sashes and the building, it’s the wrong shade. I’d have to see it in person,but I’d reprint that garish green something closer to the color of the brick masonry, like a greenish-grey, as opposed to that horrible Kelly green. You asked!

  • Repaint, not reprint.

  • I agree with number 14, but instead of a true grey foundation, I’d do a greenish-grey. This is the only example I can think of.

  • Yeah, don’t paint the brick! Wow, that green base is awful. I would rarely suggest painting brick for many reasons, not the least bit is aesthetic. It’s cool that you buy properties in areas that need revitalization, but I agree you really need a gay friend to advise you on aesthetics, that doesn’t seem to be your strong suit. It’s cool Swamplot gives you a forum to advertise and get pointers on ideas.

  • Guys, as I mentioned the Street view photo is quite old. There has been a lot done to the building to make it look better, including repainting all of that lim egreen. I painted it a dark gray. I think it is called Restoration Hardware gray. I painted most window trim white.

    The main thing I haven’t done is paint the actual brick

  • Quick recap: Don’t paint the brick, get a Gay friend. Oh and the guy who suggested Sutton Hall as an inspiration–Wha Wha WHAT???, lol, I get what your getting at with the brick color, but my white garage is the same shade as the White House, but I wouldn’t compare the two;)

  • I didn’t say make it look like Sutton Hall, it was about the colors and the stone facade. When I saw the google pic of the place, Sutton Hall came to mind.

    So it’s not your inspiration–move along.

  • My opinion is do not paint the brick. It is a nice looking building as is.

  • I went to UT, I’m very familiar with Cass Gilbert’s gorgeous Sutton Hall, I’ve walked by it a billion times. I get the comparison, I just laughed at the thought of Cass Gilbert hearing the comparison, it just struck me as very funny, but we both agree he should not paint the brick, so all is well.

  • If you’re counting votes, count me in the “do not paint over that lovely artistic brick!” camp.

  • Don’t paint the brick. And, glad the green is gone.

  • I realize there is no way to “follow” a thread so most people that commented on this won’t see this update, but if anyone is curious what the exterior currently looks like, we just took a few pics.

    We’re not 100% done, but it’s quite a bit better than before: