Whitewashing a Brick Home Exterior

 Whitewashing a Brick Home Exterior

Brick is a stately, durable material that graces the exterior of many elegant homes here in the Washington, D.C. region. While brick exteriors are a classic look, they can also begin to look tired. Sometimes we feel ready for a change, and begin to wonder, can I paint my brick exterior? Another common question is whether you should paint or whitewash your brick home.

In this post, we will discuss the difference between painting and whitewashing a brick home, using project photos from this beautiful home to illustrate.

Paint Versus Whitewash: What Is the Product?

Whitewash is a solution of hydrated lime, salt, and water. It can also contain other additives to create color effects and to give it extra properties.

Paint is a solution of binders (to make it stick), solvents (to keep it liquid until it is on the wall), and pigments (to give it color).

While whitewash is absorbed into the bricks, paint forms a layer over the surface. This essential difference has several effects.

The Properties of Painted Bricks

When you paint bricks, the paint fills in much of the texture, which creates a more uniform look. Additionally, because there is a film over the whole surface, the color will be much more even and consistent. Some homeowners here in northern Virginia and the D.C. area prefer this, while others favor the look of whitewash (more on that below).

The downside of painted brick is that it requires more maintenance. Because the paint forms that uniform layer, it prevents air exchange that is natural to brick and masonry surfaces. Any moisture that is inside or behind the bricks will be trapped there, and this degrades the paint. In significant amounts, that water will cause the paint to peel, bubble, or crack. It can also cause the bricks to degrade.

A painted brick home will generally need new exterior paint every 3-5 years, at least in Maryland and Virginia.

The Properties of Whitewashed Bricks

Because whitewash is absorbed into the brick, it alters the color of the brick itself. However, since each brick has slight variations in color and density, the bricks maintain their individuality when they are whitewashed. The texture of each brick is still evident, and each brick has a slightly different color.

When you whitewash bricks, you can adjust the proportions of hydrated lime and the other ingredients. The more lime you add, the more opaque the white coloring will be, while a lighter proportion will yield more of a semi-transparent result. The effect is to create a distressed or historic look, which is very fitting here in the Washington, D.C. area.

Bricks that are whitewashed still retain the ability to breathe, so that moisture inside or behind the bricks can be released. This is better for the health of the bricks, and it avoids the paint failure issues described above.

Williams Professional Painting

Since 1979, Williams Professional Painting has been serving northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C. area. We have ample experience in all kinds of exterior painting, including painting and whitewashing brick homes. If you would like to get a free estimate for what it would cost to paint or whitewash your brick home, please don't hesitate to contact us!

In addition, we also offer interior painting, carpentry, molding installation, popcorn ceiling removal, drywall repair, and much more. Whatever your residential painting need might be, trust Williams Professional Painting to take care of it with skill and attentiveness!

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