Natural Looking Painted Brick.
An alternative to sandblasting or stripping.

I’m pretty sure I just heard something groaning in my kitchen cupboard.  You would think I’d be startled wouldn’t you?

I was not.

Which in itself is kind of disturbing.

An unusually high tolerance to mystery noises is just one of the skill sets that develops  from living in an old house.   How old?  Mmm.  Probably about 170 years old.  That’s North American old, not European old.  To someone in Europe where houses can be 500 years old,  a 170 year old house is akin to living in a sparkly new condo.

It’s gone through a few changes over the years including having all of its bricks being painted white probably some time around the 40’s or 50’s.  Wild guess there.

Whenever I can’t put a time frame on something be it clothing, furniture or events, I always go with the 40’s or 50’s.  It’s right about 60% of the time.   I find I can apply the same method and odds of being correct to Trivial Pursuit by using the answer “Lucile Ball” whenever I’m stumped.

Some time in the 1980’s whoever owned my house had the white paint sandblasted off to reveal the original red brick underneath.  I am thankful every, single day that someone else had that job to do and not me.

Having a painted brick house reverted to its original brick is a P A I N   I N   T H E   A S S.  Both for the owner of the house and the neighbours.  Sandblasting is messy, messy and stripping an entire house can be toxic, toxic.

So I was intrigued a few years ago when I saw a beautiful, old, brick building in my town that had been painted white for as long as I could remember, suddenly surrounded by scaffolding. I figured something was going on.  I’m pretty perceptive like that.

Through the power of Google Maps (and some astute readers) I was able to find a picture of the building before the scaffolding went up.

 


 

Within a week or two, the stately white building looked like this …

 

Brick Facade 1

 

It wasn’t sandblasted.  It wasn’t stripped.  It was painted.

 

Brick Facade 2

 

Every single brick and mortar line was hand painted to look like the original brick.

 

Brick Facade 3

 

Now, I thought that was fascinating enough.  But last month I ended up talking to the owner of the building.

As it turns out, this  isn’t your average every day paint job.   The bricks are painted with a special clay that penetrates the substrate.  Over time the clay, which is more brittle than paint, will peel and take the original white paint with it, revealing the original,  unharmed brick underneath.

Because the painted brick is very close looking to the natural brick, you don’t even notice the peeling.  The process isn’t an overnight thing.  It can take anywhere from 10 – 40 years for the process to occur.

 

Brick Facade 4

 

The fact that it takes so long really doesn’t  matter though because for those 10 – 40 years (and even throughout the peeling process), the building always looks great.

 

Brick Facade 5

 

Brick Facade 6

 

Brick Facade 7

 

I have NO idea what this process costs and I definitely wasn’t paid to write about this.  I just thought it was such a unique and interesting process.  This is the company that performed the work by the way.  They do all kinds of different (environmentally friendly) stone and masonry work.

I have no idea if they have any process to deal with groaning cupboards.  Which I suspect has been a problem in my house since the 40’s or 50’s, leading me to believe I might just have Lucille Ball trapped in there.


57 Comments

  1. Pati Gulat says:

    Wow,that’s pretty cool !

  2. Tracy says:

    You wouldn’t have a before picture would you?

  3. carey says:

    when they were doling out brains, texture ltd. got them all. that is just freaking brilliant! but, 40 years on the process?! that’s a heckuva long time to get results. i’ll come visit when i’m 90 to make sure it works!

  4. karenagain says:

    Well now, that is just the greatest thing ever. I can picture it before as white. Can you please post some progress pics every five years and an after pic in 2052?

    • Karen says:

      Certainly. No problem. ~ karen

      • karenagain says:

        Thank you very much my dear. I am looking forward to it. Please when you hit about 85 or 90 years old rename your blog to “The Fart of Doing Fluff”. Then we shall just talk about the olden days like when Laura’s Grandparents brought them candy for Christmas. Remember how exciting that was? Today we bought my step daughter an I-Pad for her birhtday. She was half-assed happy. Whatever. Should have given her a candy stick and shoved it up her …

      • Mel B says:

        This is so cool. Made my morning. Thanks!

        Mel

  5. Kat says:

    As far as bloggers go you are the best!!! I only follow one blogger. This is one of the best articles I have read in awhile. I love brick, I love painted brick, heck any brick will get me going. I am always rambling on to my sons about the old brick homes back in Ontario. Thanks loved reading this one!

  6. These surely look pretty impressive work and there is no doubt about that. Don’t have much word to say. Two thumbs up!!!

  7. Lori says:

    Thanks for sharing that Tibet of news! I love the look!

  8. 2052, ha ha!
    Brilliant post Karen, I’ve never understood how people could paint beautiful red brick, but fashion has a lt to answer for! Thankfully nobody bthered to paint the red brick on my house, but up the road there are some horrible 50’s (maybe 60’s?) “red” brick houses that could do with this treatment. Would the neighbours be offended if i showed them this post?

    • Karen says:

      Mimi – You could just learn the technique yourself and quietly do the job in the middle of the night. They’ll probably never notice. ~ karen

  9. Susan says:

    Ha! I wondered how they did that! Inquiring minds want to know! I knew they hadn’t blasted it but I thought they had put some kind of plastic stuff like Mac tac overtop! I wonder if they have any kind of paint I can put on my wrinkles to make them disappear….oh yea….in 30- 40 years I’ll be dead so it won’t matter!! LOL! Thanks Karen for being nosy and asking! By the way how did you get that cat to walk past just as you were taking a picture? I’m sure it wasn’t a prop! 🙂

  10. Reg says:

    What a fascinating process. I wonder who thinks of these things. A painted brick facial.

  11. Debbie says:

    So much better like this! What a gorgeous house.

  12. marilyn says:

    geez karen i have live in this town longer than you and for the life of me cannot figure out where this is!it looks amazing..what people wont think of eh?

  13. Debbie says:

    Wow, that is so cool!!! Thank you once again for bringing way cool information into my living room! I find myself telling different people about things I’ve learned from your blog! And last night enjoyed your great hamburger recipe. So thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  14. Sarah In Illinois says:

    As a lover of old houses and restoration, I can not believe I had never heard of that before. That is frickin’ brilliant! I wish I had invented that, I’d be writing this from the deck of my yacht!

  15. Lynne says:

    How’d you get that kitty cat to walk across the front door step…on cue?
    p.s VERY COOL IDEA. Why do I learn these things AFTER I do all the hard work first? My first name should be : DUH.
    Lynne *_*.

  16. Marion says:

    that’s really awesome, and it doesn’t even look painted from a distance! although personally I love brick painted white, especially after it has started to peel and show some of it’s original color underneath. The town I live in in Alabama has a ton of houses like that in the historic district. I like to ride my bike around and dream of owning one…

    also, that cat doesn’t seem to thrilled to be in the photo. did you get written consent to post it on the interwebs?

  17. Patti says:

    Wow. Amazing. I absolutely LOVE that, and totally want to start painting brick houses now. SO COOL! Thanks sooo much for sharing!

  18. Karol says:

    Absolutely incredible. Who would have ever thought that would be a viable solution?! Good job, Karen, I learned something very cool today.

  19. Diana says:

    Hi Karen,

    you are right. In Europe the houses are much older. We found the first registered owner in the year 1760.
    And the street was named like our small village, because there where only 10 adresses. And it`s directly next to a monastery!

    Sometimes I`m dreaming of a girl with long red braided hair and a long dress in our house.
    Spooky!!

    Two of our walls are made of bricks too, but we needed isolationlayer and so we had to hide the very nice bricks from the outside.
    Maybe I will chop the plasterwork from the inside, so I have the bricks in my livingroom. Not toxic, you said!?

    Diana

  20. Chrissy says:

    “Roberto Clemente” is my go-to when I get the sports category in Trivial Pursuit.

  21. Jeannie B. says:

    What a fabulous fix for returning old brick to looking wonderful again. I have a beautiful reclaimed brick fireplace in my family room that I love, and wonder if someday, someone else wil live in this house and decide to paint it over. Thanks for letting us know about this innovative company so we can pass on the info.

  22. It never ceases to amaze me that there is always a solution to every problem out there!
    http://www.dawnajonesdesign.com/

  23. wisconsin gal says:

    What a great idea! For those who want a DIY solution, at least on inside walls, I know someone who got fantastic results covering the white. He just used a brick-color latex paint on a very dry short-nap roller. (After rolling it in the paint, he rolled it on newspaper to get off most of the paint, then rolled over the bricks.)The bricks were covered in a somewhat mottled way, very natural-looking, and the mortar stayed white, due to the short nap of the roller. Even from a foot or two away, it looked like natural brick.Great idea. Wish I had pictures, just trust me!

  24. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    That is amazing Karen but do you know how long it took them to do it??..did they have to paint every brick separately??..That would be a ton of work so I would guess it is expensive..but well worth it to avoid the mess of sand blasting..We have one partial brick wall/chimney inside about 5 foot wide..and a partial stone floor where the previous owners had a wood stove sitting..My fella wants to paint the brick white and I keep protesting..just not sure I would like it even though it would lighten up the room..

  25. The walls of our loft were painted black and orange. Gloss. The wooden ceiling was treacle brown varnish, so we had the lot sand-blasted, bricks and wood, fantastic! The quote didn’t include removing the mucky sand so Buggins had to do it. It was worth it, and my husband viewed me with renewed respect.

  26. Janet says:

    Oh my! When I saw the first photo, I thought, why would anyone paint that beautiful house white in the first place?! Crazy! So cool that there was a solution for the new-old look. It’s beautiful, once more. Gotta say, Trivial Pursuit, never a favorite of mine…but Pictionary, on the other hand…someone, give me a pencil!

  27. laura says:

    That is the most awesome thing in the history of ever. Or at least top 50.

  28. Bonnie says:

    What does the placque say, please?

  29. Barbie says:

    WOW! that is truly amazing! Love the before and after shots!

  30. sera says:

    This is amazing! And when I clicked on my email this morning, I thought you were going to tell me what to do with my god-awful brick fireplace. It’s original to my 1905 house, but is really strange with little painted murals of boats in yellow and brown set into the brick. And then it looks like someone sealed it with epoxy in the 70s. It’s pretty much a love it or hate it type of thing. My step-brother thinks it’s awesome, I do not. I keep telling my husband we should paint it black, but we haven’t gotten that far down the renovations list. Karen, what should I do with my fireplace?

    • Karen says:

      You should absolutely paint it. The colour depends on your house/design choices etc. I think a charcoal grey (almost black but not quite) would be nice or white always looks good too. But for the love of all that is good and holy … paint it. ~ karen!

  31. Shauna says:

    You teach us so much. Daily I’m impressing my colleauges with some random factoid I learned from you. Most of the time, I give you the credit, but sometimes I just sit and smile taking the credit & secretly patting you on the back.

  32. Elen Grey says:

    I am totally blown away by this process. It looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing such an interesting technique. Can always count on you!

  33. I wonder if you could use that other kind of sandblasting, dry ice blasting, to remove paint from brick. I’ve seen it on Holmes on Homes a few times to remove mold from the rafters in people’s attics. The nice part is there’s no sand to clean up, just the fine sawdust from the wood. Or paint from bricks if it could work for that sort of thing.

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

  34. Lori says:

    I have seen some old homes with painted brick, that look fantastic. Others…not so hot. This process of painting the bricks(done very well by this company) in various brick-y shades, is brilliant. If you had not told us, I would never have guessed from the photos, and maybe would not even up close. While the process of how the bricks will eventually peel, leaving the bare bricks exposed, sounds a little odd…I trust you to keep blogging updates throughout the peeling/baring stuff going on. Sounds exciting, yes? In the meantime, the house looks great.
    I will have to remember this info for when I buy my next brick mansion. Or when I am in a group and have the opportunity to sound all-knowing in all things brick. Things like that could come up more than you might think…

  35. designlove says:

    So amazing!!! I have a painted rental here in town, but probably wayyyyy out of my price range. This was a fabulous transformation.
    Lucille Ball…..love it!

    Cindy

  36. Greer says:

    hmmm… Lucille Ball? I usually go with Flock of Seagulls

  37. Toronto Male says:

    This was an interesting story. But to be honest, I lpreferred the old grey (off white) color better. It looked sleak and more modern. Even though the landscape was quite basic in it’s design, the positioning of the grey boulders accentuated the lines of the building itself. In my estimation, the only thing taht needed to be done was painting (or cleaning) the eavestroughs and window frames white in order to retain it’s modern appeal.

  38. Jackie says:

    Amazing! I have been looking at houses and have found so many with what must have been beautiful brick mantles and fireplaces…painted a variety of horrible colors. It is great to hear that there are a few options for fixing situations like that–thanks for the information!

  39. Candice says:

    another really neat way of fixing up nasty-ass brick is staining it. Because brick is porous and needs to ‘breath’ staining works wonders to beautify an awful choice in brick colour ( I do wonder who on earth picks pale pink for a house… really?!?!)

  40. Jodie says:

    this is amazing!

  41. Jeannette says:

    Very cool but man I would NOT want to be the one painstakingly painting each brick!

  42. Michelle Lambert-Beach says:

    Well I have to say, that this talented person that created this process, is my younger brother. The web site for the business does not do his work justice. The brick work and color techniques that he uses are to me, is his michaelangelo

  43. B says:

    Has anyone heard of another company doing this type of thing? Or a name for the process/product? I know this article is 2 years old but I can’t find any other references to anything like this process on the internet; it seems like it would be more popular. I would love to have this done to my house but am nowhere close to ON and the company website doesn’t seem to refer to this process specifically as one of their services. I’m wondering if anyone else has any info…

    • Karen says:

      Hi B. I was told about the process by the owner of the building and also found it was difficult to find information on. So … I just emailed the company. They emailed me back quickly. So if you have any questions about it or if they know anyone in your area who performs the same process, just shoot them an email and they should get back to you. Good luck! ~ karen

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