Painted Brick-How to Easily Change It Back After Painting It

Hi Guys,

As promised, this is part II of the discussion about brick houses. If you missed part I or would like to review, please click here.


And yes, this part is going to focus on painted brick.


Oh, I know. Some of you would sooner dive 500 feet into a bucket of water than even think of doing anything so offensive as putting PAINT on top of bricks.


bugs and yosemite sam - high diving hare
Talk about pulling a memory out of a hat. lol

Siwwy Wabbit.

Enjoy this enduring classic, “High Diving Hare” – starring the inimitable Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam



Funny is funny no matter what.


But, listen up, please. Before some of you get your knickers in a knot, you need to understand something about painted brick.

Are you listening?


Most brick created before 1870 was manufactured by hand and was not as durable as the machine-made bricks are today. In fact, the brick was MEANT to be painted!


I repeat. The bricks were meant to be painted.

That means that painted brick is HISTORICAL!  IT IS CLASSICAL.

So painted brick haters, please lighten up. I mean, you are welcome to love your unpainted brick. Sure, it can be awesome. But, so is painted brick.


1853 wood engraving old colony state house Newport, R via

1853 wood engraving old colony state house Newport, R via period paper with its original painted brick finish


Old_Rhode_Island_State_House_photo Daniel Case

Old_Rhode_Island_State_House_photo Daniel Case as it appears today. Yes, they removed all of the old paint. Not sure why they do this.


But, Laurel, aren’t we mostly talking about brick homes built after that? And if so, then that brick is NOT MEANT TO BE PAINTED! 


Actually, that’s not true. While it is true that certain conditions need to be taken into consideration, it’s the type of paint one uses that makes all of the difference. And, if one wants their newer home to have an authentic late 18th century painted finish, then why not?


This is what I think.


I think that if you love red brick or yellow brick or whatever color your brick is meant to be when it comes out of the kiln, then absolutely fine. Stick with it. I forbid you to paint it or alter in any other way. ;]


Nancy Keyes incredible painted brick home in Atlanta (it was sold several years ago)

But, if you are dying and I mean dying to have a painted brick home, maybe ala Nancy Keyes’ old home in Atlanta, (above) then yes, yes, yes — go for it!!! (to see the icky poo before of this splendid home, click here)

(and no, we do not know what the color of the painted brick is. Sorry.)


However, before we delve into the type of paint to use for painted brick; and, where to get it, I want to go over the various ways that one can transform brick.


One thing, though and that is some of these terms are somewhat interchangeable. Or, there is more than one term that people use for the same thing. It is a little confusing, but hopefully this gives a good idea.


  • Whitewash: A thin coating of watered down paint over the entire brick veneer. However, sometimes folks use a thicker coat of paint and also call it whitewash


Southern Living - photo Emily J. Followill - looks like a German Smear

Southern Living – photo Emily J. Followill

looks like a German Smear, but is actually a limewash done super-well.


  • German Smear: A thicker coating of mortar which can have pigments added to it and applied in patches that creates a rustic, antiqued look. This is very similar to a lime wash. But, is permanent from day one. Bob Vila has an excellent post about German Smear. I keep thinking about a bagel with cream cheese. haha



Domingue Architectural Finishes – Gorgeous website!!!


  • Slurry: A thick application of mortar, or lime plaster covering the entire brick or stone veneer to create an almost a stucco-like finish. This is sometimes called parging. But again, the terms seem to vary depending on who you’re talking to.


@Classicfinishes instagram - designer @kariFerris Ramobio lime wash - pale green shutters

@Classicfinishes instagram – designer @kariFerris Ramobio lime wash – pale green shutters. How gorgeous is this!


  • Lime Wash – or sometimes called a Lime Slurry is an ages old technique of using a compound of lime which cures over time and seeps into the brick and thus needs less upkeep than paint.


One of the greatest advantages to this technique which has been around for centuries is that you have five days to decide if you like it or not. In that time period, all you need to do is power wash it to remove it.


But, I would not first do the entire house. Maybe one small side. It is also a relatively easy (they say) DIY project.

My preference is that the lime wash is applied fairly solidly. And, I really do not want to see a lot of unexposed dark red brick underneath white. And, then very evenly. It looks like the house has a disease.

I won’t show you the bad examples because the folks that did it love it. But, that’s their business.

We will look at some that I think are well-done.


Ramobio - painted brick off-white finish

Ramobio – painted brick off-white finish


  • Paint – This is one of the more controversial issues. One reason is that paint sits on top of the brick, while a lime wash penetrates the brick and cures over time. Lime is breathable. If the paint won’t let the brick breathe, then moisture can get trapped underneath the paint and start to eat away at it.No Bueno. Of course.




What if there was a paint that actually acted like a thin layer of brick and was breathable, but still very much a painted brick?


Does such a paint exist?

You betcha!

The company that is hot, hot, hot right now is RomaBio Paints.


Romabio Classico Limewash color choicesThey have two main products. One is a classic lime wash which comes in seven colors. (see above)

Their lime wash is made from Dolomite lime from Northern Italy. It is slaked, (meaning water is added to it) and aged. This formulation requires little-to-no maintenance for decades. It will continue to patina giving an authentic, natural looking finish.


RomaBio also manufactures a wonderful paint as I described above.


It is a mineral-based paint that was developed specifically for all kinds of masonry– brick, stone, stucco, etc. It is not a latex paint which would seal the brick, creating the moisture problems we just spoke of.

The finish is opaque and durable giving the painted brick a matte, authentic look of historical brick.


And the darling bloggers from Young House Love have created 15 gorgeous colors from super pale off-white to some deeper colors which are all awesome.


Here’s the link for more info on this fabulous paint


Okay, I will need all of you folks who can’t bear to see a brick with paint on it, go make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or something. ;]


Oh, Laurel, why can’t we just look?


Well, of course you can look. ;] But, I don’t want to hear any negative remarks. I mean, you don’t have to like the painted brick. But, please don’t spoil it for those of us who do ADORE it.


First, I want to show you a before and after of the Young House Love Home.


Romabiopaints on instagram - @younghouselove

Via Young House Love on instagram.


I adore the transformation. The only thing I would love to see, maybe, is a little more definition with the stairs. Maybe some blue stone treads and stoop? That would be lovely, I think.


Painted-Brick-House-White-AFTER-Door-With-Foliage-Young House Love

Painted-Brick-House-White-AFTER- via Young House Love

For an in-depth fabulous post on their process, how they chose the color and much, much more click this link.

And, this is excellent to read about the steps you need to know before painting your home.


loveandrenovations - romabio - navy steel masonry paint - painted brick

Love and Renovations – RomaBio – navy steel masonry paint – painted brick. At least, I think that’s the color. This home is so vastly improved. They only painted where the red brick was, but I think I would’ve taken the dark gray all the way around. Maybe there’s some reason they couldn’t do that. Still, it’s 1,000 times better.

Romabio Romabio Classico Limewash Color Avorio White - painted brick

RomaBio Classico Limewash Color Avorio White

I think this is perfect example of a really well-done antiqued look. Some of the areas are quite solid, but none are completely missing their lime wash.


Ramobio -@CristinaDanielle photo - nearly solid lime wash

Ramobio -@CristinaDanielle photo – nearly solid lime wash


I saved my favorite lime wash for last. I love that it’s nearly solid; just a small amount of rub-through. What an elegant home!!!


@artistic_finishes @CristinaDanielle photo @romabiopaints - antique limewash

@artistic_finishes @CristinaDanielle photo @romabiopaints – antique limewash


Artistic finishes has a gorgeous website, too.


Young House Love White-Gray-Painted-Brick-House-Richmond-Fan-District
I adore these row houses that Young House Love took in their hometown of Richmond, VA. Painted Brick rocks!

By the way, RomaBio paints also has a product for interior specialty paints.


So, where can you purchase RomaBio products?




You can purchase them online on Amazon


Or, you can also find them at the Home Depot


Now, I just added something to Sunday’s red brick post. Benjamin Moore has a color viewer. And  I put in one of their images, similar to MJ’s home. This way, you can see how you can get an idea how your paint combinations will look BEFORE you purchase the paint and make a mistake.

I am wondering if RomaBio is making plans to increase their color selection. My guess is yes. But, we’ll have to wait and see.


However, please check out the Benjamin Moore color viewer in the link above. I think you’ll enjoy seeing how much of a difference paint can make to how a home looks.


***Warning*** The color viewer is addictive. It’s reminding me of the time I discovered this tool with the cement floors.


And, one last note for today. Okay, I made an executive decision last week. Some of you may have already noticed.


Years ago, I was advised to answer every comment that came in. Fine. I’ll be more than happy to answer both comments that have come in this month. Well, before long it was a lot more than two. And now, on an average week, between the two new blog posts and the old blog posts, still open, I am receiving a minimum of 100 comments weekly. And, sometimes more.

That’s awesome and I love hearing from you.

In addition, I also receive at least 100 emails (from readers) a week that are blog-related. I think you can see where this is going. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not possible. That is, unless I want to sit tethered to my laptop 18 hours a day.


However, even if I don’t answer every comment, I am definitely reading each one and still moderating them. That won’t stop.


And, I will always answer a question that pertains to the post. And, is not something specific to a problem you and only you are having. Of course, if you would like your problem to be considered for a blog post, please send it back to me from any email you receive from me. (via Mail Chimp)


Thanks all for your understanding. Each of you is dear to me. I want you to know that. Without your caring, support and feedback this would be a very arduous job. Conversely because of you, it’s a joy to create something that hopefully is helpful or at least good for a little relief from the day-to-day.



PS: Please check out the newly updated Hot Sales. The Serena and Lily Sale is still going full-force and is ending October 14th.


Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

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