If you’ve never painted the exterior of your home before, there are some things you should know before doing so. Exterior painting, which is specifically designed to protect your home and withstand the elements, is drastically different than interior painting, especially when painting a brick surface.

Importance of Painting Your Home’s Exterior

The exterior of your home is constantly exposed to the roughest of elements. Sunlight, wind, and moisture can wreak havoc on your home’s structure if you do not take steps to protect it. Exterior paint is designed to be resistant to the elements. Unfortunately, paint can break down over time if you do not take the steps necessary to maintain it.

Homm has detailed some of the most common problems you can face if you fail to paint your home with exterior house paint.

Alligatoring

This can occur over time when oil-based paints are used, or if the top coat of the paint dries too quickly. It causes the paint’s film to crack, making it appear like the scales of an alligator. Once cracked, moisture can begin seeping into your home’s structure.  

Blistering

If you paint a surface that is already warm or apply oil-based paints over a wet surface, blistering will likely occur. This causes bubbles to appear in the paint. Blistering can also occur if moisture escapes your home through the exterior walls.

Chalking

If you use an interior paint instead of an exterior paint on the outside of your home, chalking is nearly certain to occur. It is also more likely to occur if you use paints that are alkyd-based, instead of latex-based. When exposed to the elements, the result will be a fine, powdery substance on the surface of the paint film. Chalking can accelerate color loss as well.

Cracking or Flaking

If you do not use enough paint or fail to remove multiple layers of older paint, you’ll be prone to cracking or flaking. Cracking can also occur when you do not properly prepare the exterior surface and fail to use a primer. If latex dries too fast in cool conditions, you’ll be exposing yourself to a greater risk of flaking.

Cracking or flaking can lead to the eventual failure of the entire paint job. Cracks also tend to grow with time.

Efflorescence

Efflorescence occurs when new cement or mortar is not allowed proper time to cure. It can also occur when moisture escapes through walls built with cement or mortar. Once efflorescence has occurred, you’ll need to remove it entirely. Otherwise, efflorescence will continue to impact future exterior paint jobs. Efflorescence appears as salt deposits that will continually grow with time.

Fading

Although some fading is natural over time, using an altered paint can accelerate the process. Additionally, using colors that are more prone to UV radiation will accelerate fading. If fading is a concern, avoid lighter oranges, yellows, and reds. Fading will most likely occur in the areas of your home that face toward the south and the west.

Mildew Growth

Easy to spot, mildew, algae, or mold growth will appear as ugly black, brown, or gray stains on the paint film. Growth like this is more likely to occur in areas prone to dampness or high humidity, and areas that see higher average temperatures. It tends to be more visible in lighter colors. Additionally, dark colors typically become hot enough that they will kill potential growth.

Peeling

Peeling occurs when the exterior paint does not properly adhere to the surface. If you do not adequately clean the surface before painting, you’re likely to suffer from peeling. Peeling can also occur if you paint over existing blistering, or if you use exterior paint of poor quality.

Best Exterior Paint

Curious about which brand provides the best exterior paint? When shopping for exterior paint, there are two main things to remember.

  1. Exterior paint is different from interior paint. Make sure you know the difference. Otherwise, you’ll simply be wasting your money, as you’ll have to repaint your home next year.
  2. Quality paint is an investment in your home.

The cost of quality paint pails in comparison to the cost of having to replace part of your home’s structure. Remember, paint is not just meant to be aesthetically pleasing. It serves a functional purpose. Imagine building a deck that is going to receive heavy foot traffic. Would you use nails that had the risk of breaking down and weakening the deck’s structural integrity?

Probably not. The same concept exists with paint. Don’t sacrifice the structural integrity of your home just to save a few dollars in upfront costs. Quality paint can last up to a decade. In a ten-year period, it’s far cheaper to spend on quality paint once than to spend on cheap paint two or three times.

Consumer Search has provided an extensive review of the best exterior paint available. Below is a brief summary of their findings.

Behr Premium Ultra Plus

Behr Premium Ultra Plus, which costs approximately $35 per gallon, received the top score in studies conducted by ConsumerReports.org. In lab studies, the paint lasted the equivalent of nine years. The paint has also ranked first in studies conducted by the Paint Quality Institute, and second in studies by J.D. Power and Associates.

Valspar DuraMax

Valspar DuraMax, which costs approximately $40 per gallon, lasted six to nine years during lab testing. Many users have reported that the paint provides excellent coverage with just a single coat and that a single coat is thick enough to cover flaws.

Behr Marquee

Another Behr product, this paint is specifically tailored to resist dirt, rust, and mildew. It costs approximately $50 a can. Like the other paints on the list, it is expected to last six to nine years.  

How to Remove Paint from a Brick Exterior

Before painting, it’s important to remove existing paint from a brick’s exterior. Brick is a porous material, which means paint can soak into the brick. Continue reading for a guide from Bob Vila on how to remove paint from brick exterior. You should not remove paint from brick if there’s a chance that frost will occur in the four weeks following the project.

The easiest way to remove brick is with paint stripper. Paint strippers are safer now than ever before, and should not harm your brick surface. However, you’re encouraged to test the paint stripper on an inconspicuous part of the brick, perhaps near the foundation. This will give you an idea of deeply the paint has penetrated the brick, and if the paint stripper will end up damaging your brick.

The project is typically considered messy, so you’ll want to set up a cloth that will catch paint that flakes away from the side of your home. You’ll also want to wear the recommended protective gear.

Before beginning, scrape away as much loose paint as possible. Paint that has chipped for flaked should hopefully fall right off. Then, following the instructions as listed on the paint stripping container, apply the product to the exterior brick. Attach the peeling strips, and press them firmly into the brick until the stripping agent has attached.

You’ll want to be sure that the peeling strips are overlapping, leaving no brick exposed. Allow the strips to sit and work their magic for the time recommended by the manufacturer. When ready, slowly remove the strips, being careful not to rip them. If there is any paint left behind, you can use a stiff-bristled brush to attempt to remove it.

How to Paint Brick Exterior

After you’ve removed the existing paint, it’s time to repaint the brick’s exterior. Begin by power-washing the brick to remove any existing paint flakes, dirt, or mildew. You won’t want to use more than 2000 pounds per square inch, or else you risk damaging the mortar. Feel free to add mild soap to the power washer if you’re struggling to remove efflorescence.

Allow the brick plenty of time to dry, or else the exterior paint will not adhere properly. Also keep in mind that brick is porous, so adequate drying may take a few days.

Then, check the existing mortar for signs of damage. Painting over damaged mortar can cause your exterior paint to fail. If you notice any mortar that’s been damaged, make sure it’s fixed before continuing with your exterior paint project. Before replacing mortar, you’ll want to sand the entire brick exterior with a circular sander.

Next, prime the brick with a latex masonry primer intended for brick. Be sure to prime all surfaces of the brick exterior, including the mortar. Make sure the primer has dried for at least two hours before continuing. Then, go around and caulk all areas where water could possibly enter, including trim and windows.

Once caulking is complete, clean the brick surface one last time to remove any existing dust. After this is completed, it’s finally time to begin painting. Using a roller that is at least ¾ inch thick, brush and roll the exterior brick wall. Feel free to be liberal in distributing the paint, making sure to get every crevice. It’s recommended you use at least two coats.  

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