About the Project:
After a long time of searching for the perfect home ( big yard, no annoying HOA, location) we found this fixer upper. In the beginning, there was some brick and the brick was really blah…
Level of Difficulty: 3
Time: How long did it take to paint the brick? Hum, about 120 hours by myself…maybe more. But if you do this with somebody else, way less…
My thought process before getting to work:
At first I wanted to go with something classic with a twist of modern. So I was looking for cool classic colors. Cool as in tone not as in popular. I had already painted my door navy blue to make the house look better and was planning to paint the garage door as well. I was looking for dark wine colors, burgundy, blueberry and mulberry. My hubby wasn’t crazy about my color choices because he likes classic brick. Different and eclectic are my thing. He thought they were too purple, which they were and it made perfect sense because violet is my favorite color!
So, I headed to the store anyway to buy me some wine swatches. I picked around 25 color cards from different paint brands. Looked at the colors outside, played with color combinations, taped them at different angles of the house and observed the swatches at different times of the day. I narrowed it down to five colors that I thought went great together.
Quick lesson! If you have bought color samples before, you know that you cannot order them with a finish. So, when the nice gentleman at the store asked me what finish I wanted, I got so excited that I forgot that I was buying samples for exterior and not for my beautiful golden chairs or any other project where I actually wanted gloss. So, with childish excitement I ordered semi gloss. Lol, what a newbie. I got home and color tested an area where the neighbors could not see. And this is what happened.
As I am painting I am realizing that the paint is way too shiny, even if it is wet….Hum, hold on Paloma, don’t panic yet, this is just a trial run. After the paint was dry, I learned two things. The first one, it definitely needs to be a flat finish, especially for brick. The second one, mauve brick will have to wait. Not all was lost. I changed my entire vision.
I have two neighbors with the same brick facade. One of them, is two houses down and it is the exact same house with the same colors that mine had. On the other side, my next door neighbor has earth tones with burgundy. In addition, other houses have “brick” details or borders. Now you can see why I wanted my house to look different!
So, I decided I wanted to do a complete 180 ° and change the look. I wanted to get a marriage of red-hot orange bricks and some urban details.
Knowing that red and orange are really strong colors, I needed to get the tone right. I also knew that my garage door was going to be navy blue just like my door and this was going to have a “cooling down “ effect on such powerful colors.
I like to trust my creative gut and 99% of the time I do. In this case, with such a time-consuming project and needing some reassurance, I googled “red, orange brick house”.
Went to the store and got some hotter colors! Now, the trick was to balance them out. To achieve an “aged” result, at the very least, you should use three colors no more than five; Two that are similar and a “pop”. I tried different combinations and included some of the colors I already had. These were way too red. This was the result.
Lessons learned, definitely no gloss. Less bright and need at least one “burnt” color. How about if I use some of the colors I already had?
I used six colors, different ratios, all from Behr:
- Chipotle Paste – Used the most
- Morroco Red
- Divine Wine
- Smoking Hot
- Dark Denim – A bluish gray
- Indigo Ink – Doors
Paint the brick
When we bought the house, I thought the front side was made of real brick, but later I discovered that was not the case. Regardless of what it was made of, it was evident that the “brick” needed some love. It was dull and in some of the areas it was very faded due to water damage (rain water).
Lets get out hands dirty!
Step 1: Plan. Look for inspiration and be realistic on what you can really tackle. Play it safe when it comes to details that are difficult such as altering your facade or window placement. Gamble on things that can be easily fixed, such as the color of a door, trim and light fixtures. Depending on what kind of look you want If painting brick – at least three colors, 4 is better.
Step 2. Research your procedures. My “brick” is made with concrete with a mold to resemble brick. If you have the real thing, you have the option of using brick stain or exterior acrylic based paint. If you have “virgin” bricks, there are some measures you need to follow prior to painting, so do some research before. In my case, the concrete brick had been painted with regular paint, so a stain was not an option for me.
Step 3: Fix any cracks. The type of filler you use will be determined by your exterior material and the depth of the work that needs to be done.
Step 4: Squeaky clean. Either pressure wash (if possible) or wash your exterior walls with soppy water and a brush. Remove any mold prior to painting. Make sure the surface had at least 24 hours to dry before starting painting. Especially if the material is bare.
Step 5: Paint. Before you paint anything. Test your technique. The beauty of brick, is that it looks better with age. If you want your end result to be newly created bricks, then go ahead and paint them perfectly. If on the other hand, you want them to look with character, you need to come up with a technique.
I practiced until I got the right balance of fully painted bricks and painting some to look distressed. Also, you need to find an uneven random pattern, but it has to make sense too. Get some cardboard and come up with some patterns and combinations. Also, practice your distressed technique. I found that foam brushes worked better for this.
For distressed looking bricks, go slow and do not cover the whole thing. You might even want to apply more than one color to a brick (once the first color has dried).
Paint one color at a time. Slow is better, do not try to cover as much bricks as you can. Paint some and step back. One trick is to mark some of the bricks with color tape and arrange a pattern. Again, stop every once in a while and look at your pattern and technique.
Another reason for you to do a color at a time, so that you can take a weekend off when you need to, without your house looking like it is half done. At least this way it will look uniform.
My color schedule: Three rounds of three colors at a time, one color at time and left some to add the blue details at the end.
Ex. Paint color 1, then color two, then color three. Repeat.
I also combined colors. For example, do some paint strokes with color A, once it is dry, add some light strokes of color B.
Tip. Use only a little paint, wet only the tip. If your brush drips, you will surely paint the mortar in between the bricks…Not good. Plus slathering more paint on the brush is not going to help you go faster! There is only so much paint the brick can absorb at a time.
I painted the garage door prior to finishing the bricks, as I wanted the house to look nicer. The garage door really needed some love. Doing this gave me the boost I needed to finish the bricks.
It took me almost four months to finish it. Only the front, because the rest of the house is stucco and we had completed that project. Yes, there were some weekends were I rested or went to the beach. But, I did put some hours on most weekends or afternoons after work. Sometimes for two hours and other times the entire weekend.
They were times when I was really tired and could not wait to finish. Almost to the point of getting annoyed. It was summer in the south, humid and hot, my arms would hurt, but the feeling would go away once I stepped back and realized how great the house already looked. Hang in there and take a break if you need to.
I am telling you this, not to scare you. I just want you to get an idea of the time it takes. But, once its done, you probably wont have to redo the brick for another 10-15 years.
Tips on choosing a color.
Once you have decided on a style, you can pick your color. I love color and it is very frustrating to see so many beige and brown houses nowadays. Nevertheless, some colors will not look good on a larger scale and not all colors go well together. If you are not very good at color theory, no need to stress. Nowadays most paint companies have developed apps where you can play with color options. Another alternative would be to take a picture of your home and use Photoshop to see it in different colors. My favorite trick is rather simple and fun; sketchbook and color pencils go a long way. It does not have to be perfect, but it will help you visualize.
Tips for success:
- Buy the best quality paint you can afford. Look for deals. If you are patient you can find them.
- You need the right tool for the job.
- Practice your technique before!
- Test your color samples. You will probably not like the first color you pick. Color cards look different in the store and different to the real color.
- Consider your environment too. The color of your yard, plants, roof, etc.
- Clean before. Paint will not adhere properly to a dirty wall.
- Check the weather!
Oh, so you read the whole thing. Here is a treat for you! Yeah, you guessed it. That’s me on the piano and my little sister with the microphone. Maybe grandma’s brick was an inspiration…but definitely not the flamingo or ….