Painting brick is all over HGTV lately. They show beautifully white washed brick or accent brick walls painted to enhance their character. If this is done right, it can actually be a really great way to accent your home. Unfortunately, if done wrong, it can compromise your structure.
There are different varieties of paint – latex, acrylic, oil-based, water-based, etc. Not every variety works for every application. In masonry, paints that lock in moisture eventually cause the masonry to retain water and break down. This causes the block, brick or mortar to become weak and your structure to become compromised. For this reason, we always recommend using masonry paint. These paints allow the masonry materials to breath and for moisture to be released (in gas form) from the masonry work.
For the job pictured, the homeowner painted his chimney with a typical outdoor paint. This paint is one that you would use for wood siding to protect it from water getting in. This caused moisture to build up from the condensation inside the chimney when the furnace would vent. In order to fix this, we ground off the paint (a 2-day process) and let the chimney dry out. Then we parged the chimney to give it a textured finish. If the customer wanted to paint it with masonry paint at this point, it would be safe. Parging gives the masonry an extra “skin” and helps to prevent further damage.
This is a classic case of beauty vs. function. Having a professional walk you through the work can avoid compromising your home. This customer reached out before he needed his entire chimney replaced. Luckily, we were able to fix the chimney and still create the beautiful aesthetic he was looking for.