What Real Estate Agents Really Think About Painting Brick

published Aug 22, 2023
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Up there with whether or not to paint antique furniture, the question of painting brick exteriors is one of the most controversial design debates. Some say that unpainted brick is boring and dated, while others — like me — think it depends on the style of the home and condition of the brick. Even more still fall into the “don’t do anything you can’t undo, especially if it requires maintenance” camp.

As practically every episode of “House Hunters” has taught people, everyone has a specific vision for what they want in a home. What an owner loves, for example, may not be right for resale. This brings me to the big question: What exactly does the real estate world think about painted brick? I asked three agents in three different markets exactly that.

Painting adds curb appeal.

According to Realtor Farah Sutton, the brick homes in her Arizona market are usually painted to “freshen up and modernize the appearance of the home.” For homeowners, she says, painting exterior bricks is a relatively easy solution for adding curb appeal and personalization. And of course, any time you improve curb appeal, you’re increasing the value of a home.

Keep in mind that this may not be the full layer of paint you typically imagine: techniques like German schmear (a type of mortar wash) also make a big impact.

But buyers value authenticity.

On Long Island, Realtor Emily Clancy LoPorto shares that brick facades are typically left unpainted because homeowners and buyers in the area prefer to maintain the original look. “On occasion, a home will have multiple facade materials, like Hardie board siding and brick, and in that case, the brick may be painted to match the siding,” she explains.

That said, LoPorto emphasizes that if your brick is already painted, it won’t have a huge impact on a home’s value one way or another. If it’s not? “If you’ve got a home with an all-brick facade that you plan to sell, save yourself time and money — leave it be,” she says.

Paint is just one piece of the puzzle.

There are two types of brick homes in Nevada’s market, says Melissa Zimbelman, real estate agent and property manager: “There are either vintage homes that have intentionally kept in their original condition, or others that have been turned into retro masterpieces with painted brick in funky colors and Jetson-style accents.”

Owners in her market, she states, have figured out how to make older homes extra desirable by turning their homes’ brick exteriors, mid-century modern sloping roofs, glass-inset front entry doors, and garage doors trendy once again. The impact is impressive: “Those homes, with their custom upgrades, are commanding increased sale prices over their non-upgraded counterparts by $100,000 or more.”

Though Zimbelman admits it’s hard to know when these homes will come in and out of favor, they do tend to come back around over time and are always enjoyed by the owners.