Painted brick on the exterior of your home

No one told us at the paint store that when you are buying exterior paint, not to paint on the chimney, that it would become the beginning of a whole host of problems. Now What?

– Tim S.
Hudson Valley, NY


I am sorry to hear this. I agree that painted brick on the chimney will start a lot of unnecessary  problems. The simple solution of painting brick to simply change their color has hidden costs down the road. This is especially true on brick chimneys. A freshly painted brick house looks great when you first complete it. Your house may still even look great for four or five years. However, it may begin to look a little shabby on the chimney top as it blisters or bubbles up. The real problems are hiding beneath the painted surface, as the paint may be the only thing still holding the broken brick faces together. This is because the moisture within the chimney is trying to get out and the paint is trapping it beneath the surface.


Uh oh, moisture.


There lies the start of big problems. The moisture that is being trapped inside the bricks will expand with our normal freeze/thaw cycles. This creates a fatigue within the brick itself, crushing and breaking down the bricks from within. All brick masonry material needs to breathe. When we paint the brick, it seals them up way too tight. With a close examination by peeling back some of those blistered areas, it will reveal some serious brick and mortar damage. Replacing just a couple of “problem brick” on the chimney normally isn’t the answer and definitely will not solve your problems.


Areas on the chimney today may look perfectly fine, but may be hiding very saturated and weak masonry beneath this painted surface. I often tell my customers that they have a couple of choices to resolve their dilemma. They can repaint right over the damaged brick or when it gets to a point that they can’t live with this unsightly look on their home, the chimney can be dismantled and replaced with brick and mortar of a complimentary color.


In the past, we have done more replacement repair work by using white brick and white mortar then we have with any other color changes. Now here is the funny thing, some folks have had us rebuild their chimney, and then after our work was completed they had their painter just re-paint right over the same chimney again.


It’s that same old story, as history will surely repeat itself!!!

Clay Lamb
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11 thoughts on “Painting Exterior Brick

  1. What about using a porous paint so the brick can breathe? Like using a breathable latex exterior, like Sherwin-Williams’ SuperPaint Acrylic Latex. Would this work?

  2. I feel “It might” be a viable option?
    Sherwin Williams has a line of products refereed to as DTM which stands for (Direct to mental).
    After reading deeper in to their product info, it sounds like it also will work on Masonry.
    I must say I have never found a breathable paint that I feel comfortable painting on to a brick surface (yet) .

  3. Wow, I was just thinking about painting my chimney. Looks like that is a not a good idea.


  4. Greetings Franz,
    When you have time, check out this video that we produced about “Painted Chimney Problems”
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comment!
    Clay Lamb author of: – Youtube Educational Videos – Professional grade Chimney products – Contractor Coaching Podcast – GM @ American Chimney Sweep Cincinnati, OH

  5. years ago a mason ‘repaired’ our chimney (he replaced the upper 2/3 of the chimney). he used plain – not colored – bricks. the bottom of the chimney is white. what can be done?

  6. I painted my chimney @15 years ago with white masonry paint. The paint n some mortar recently started to chip and crack. I recently scraped the damaged areas n replaced the bad mortar.
    Because I’m bad with concrete the repair isn’t pretty but the mortar is replaced. And much paint still remains (that couldn’t be scraped off) as well as some small cracks in the mortar (not large refillable ones)

    What do I do now to fill in the small cracks? Or should I leave it as is (I can live with the appearance – people don’t look at my chimney)? Thx so much.

  7. Since you’ve read my blog and maybe seen my video on painted chimneys, I think you know my opinion. hairline cracks can let water in and at some point, you may be at the point of no return and you may want to leave that filled in like that. never forget that condensation can build up underneath the surface of the paint and that all chimneys have 5 sides to them. I recommend you just keep an eye on it continuously. IDK how big your chimney your is but if it comes to where it needs replace you can maybe replace it with white Alaskan brick and white mortar, but that may be too much for today. Burn safe. Clay.

  8. We have recently done a lime wash on our house. The product mfgr is Romabio and the color is Riposo Beige. We haven’t done anything to the chimney yet, which pops up in the center of the house which from above is kind of a “+” shape. The thought is to pressure wash the chimney (b/c of the soot stains) and then do the lime wash on it also to retain the continuity of the whole house brick look.

    Obviously lime wash is not the same as paint, and I see pictures on the company’s site of lime wash on chimneys, but what are your thoughts?

  9. Personally I would not pressure wash or paint any brick chimney. May I suggest investing in a good masonry cleaner, a couple of washing and rinsing should do the job. We use, “Saver Systems Mfg” brick cleaning products, they are out of Richmond IN and can be found all over the internet. I would then contact the Mfg of your Romabio/ color Riposo Beige to ask the engineering /lab if this is a better idea for their wash product. Sorry, I just don’t like using a pressure washer and then paint on any brick chimney.

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