Thursday, March 27, 2014

Painted brick houses: what color to paint the brick? Real life examples, inspiration pictures, and the colors homeowners and designers use

One of the most popular posts I have ever written was about painted brick houses (click here to see post). I receive literally dozens of emails every month about painted brick from people considering painting their brick and looking for advice on the color of paint to use.  So, I thought I would follow up with some images of painted brick houses that I have collected through the years, most of which have the color noted.  Many of these came from Houzz, and the designer or architect verified the colors used.  Some of them are from readers who have painted their brick and emailed me pictures and colors.

A few important things to note.  If you are painting your brick, I highly recommend that you have a contractor build a small braced brick test wall on plywood – and have the front face the same direction as the front of your house (or whatever area of your house you are testing).  Look at the sample in the morning, mid-day, and afternoon.  Look at the sample when it is sunny and when it is overcast, and also when it is rainy.   The color of the paint is impacted by the surroundings, the sun exposure, the amount of shade, the time of day, and the weather.  Also, keep in mind that brick seems to soak up some of the pigment in the paint, so often the color on the house looks lighter than the color on the paint chip. Another reason to actually paint a section of the actual bricks with the colors you are considering.  Finally, I think it is very important for the color of the painted brick to work well with the roof color.

One more caveat, many of these pictures were taken off the internet.  They give a good representation of the paint colors, but nothing can substitute actually testing out paint colors for yourself, in your specific light and exposure conditions.

Now onto the post…

Many of those beautiful painted brick houses that we see in magazine do not list the colors, or if they do, note that the colors were custom blended.  This Houston house appeared in Traditional Home, and the homeowner noted that “the brick was painted a subtle “chameleon” (green-brown-gray) hue that complements the new slate roof in a blend of color tones”.  I love the color palette of this house. Note how beautifully the colors work with the roof, the landscaping, the teak of the bench.

Another house I recently saw on Houzz, designed by Atlanta architect Rodolfo Castro, received many comments and questions about the paint and trim color. Rodolfo noted that the colors were custom blended on site.  This is often the case with custom, newly built houses – the colors are selected and custom blended as part of the design process.

But where to start if you want a standard color?  Here are 15 examples of painted brick houses and the actual colors that the architects, homeowners, and designers used.

In my original post on painted brick, architect Rodolfo Castro had just completed this lovely home, and told me that the colors chosen were Benjamin Moore Ballet White –OC 9 for the brick, and Benjamin Moore 977 Brandon beige for the shutters.  The colors were selected by Rodolfo and interior designer Jessica Bradley. This is a great picture because it shows the brick in the light and the shadow.

This renovated house was painted in Sherwin Williams Relaxed Khaki (SW6149). Architecture by Stan Dixon (see my post on this house when it was on the market here).  I am not sure what the shutter and trim color is, but I suspect that they are either a slightly deeper version of relaxed khaki, or perhaps Sherwin Williams Universal Khaki (SW6150).

In an article for Southern Living (seen here, March 2012 Southern Living), Stan noted that one of his favorite paint color combinations for the exterior is Relaxed Khaki and Universal Khaki, which is why my guess about the shutter and trim color is probably accurate (I know for sure that the brick is painted Relaxed Khaki).

Here is a house of one of my readers that was also painted Relaxed Khaki by Sherwin Williams; the trim is Almond White by Farrell-Calhoun . The shutter color is Saw Dust by Sherwin Williams.

The same house viewed from the back shows how the exposure (north, south, east, west) and time of day can have a big impact on how the color appears.  In the picture of the front elevation, the sun is shining directly on the brick, and it appears quite light.  In the picture of the back of the house, most of the house is in shadows, and the color appears much richer.  I can’t emphasize it enough, it’s essential to test the paint color in all major areas.  One paint color can look quite different in light, shadow, sun, rain, morning, midday, afternoon, and evening.

This lovely house was renovated by Atlanta architect J. Ryan Duffey.  The homeowner is a reader of Things That Inspire and had asked for advice on paint colors.  She ended up testing dozens of colors and ended up using a triple concentrate of Benjamin Moore Suisse Coffee.

Here is a picture of the house while the homeowner and architect were selecting the paint color, from Ryan Duffey’s blog.  It’s rare to get to see an ‘in process’ photo of paint selection, and this picture brought back a lot of memories of our paint selection process!

This brick of this classic house was painted in Benjamin Moore White Dove.  Photo credit Burke Coffey Architecture Design Inc.

This beautiful Houston house has a serene color palette.  The paint color (confirmed by designer) is noted as Benjamin Moore Ballet White and shutter color is Sherwin Williams Attitude Gray.

This historic house was the residence of Ronald Reagan when he was Governor of California. The exterior is showcased on Houzz, and the paint colors are noted as Sherwin Williams Neutral Ground, the trim as  and Stone Lion.

A reader send me this picture of her charming house, which she painted Benjamin Moore Classic Gray on the brick. All of the exterior french doors and windows are SW Intellectual Gray. The double front doors are a high gloss black paint.

This historic 1930s  house, which Anna Berglin Design posted on Houzz, was painted in Ben Moore white dove.

This richly colored house was designed by Atlanta based architects and designers Kemp Hall Studio, and was found on Houzz.  The architect notes that the paint color is Duron Shell white, and the textured application of the brick is called weeping mortar.  Note how the roof, the paint color, the shutters, the trim all work together in concert – it’s a pleasing palette.

This attractive house was found on Houzz, courtesy of the builder, Blake Shaw Homes. The brick paint color is noted as Wool Skein by Sherwin Williams, and the trim color is noted as Zinc by Pratt & Lambert.

Another charming Blake Shaw Homes project seen on Houzz; the brick paint color is Benjamin Moore White Dove, the trim is also White Dove, and the shutters are BM Revere Pewter.  

This house, sent to me by a reader, is painted Benjamin Moore Owl Gray (a very old BM color that can be requested); the light trim is an old Benjamin Moore color called ‘Linen’ (also an old color that can be requested).  The dark shutters and door are a custom mix, but the homeowner is thinking about changing things up for spring and painting the shutters and door a shade or two deeper than the brick for a more monochromatic look.

A friend of mine painted her house recently, and her colors were Benjamin Moore Monterey White on the brick, BM Kendall Charcoal on the shutters.  She called me in a panic the morning her house was being painted – it’s a nerve wracking thing to paint brick when you have lived in a house for a few years and are used to the red brick!  She is thrilled with the end result, and painting the brick gave her house just the update she wanted.

A few years ago, a reader building a house emailed me when she was searching for the perfect color to paint her new house. Here is what she ended up doing, and the results are beautiful.  The brick is painted  Benjamin Moore Navajo White (as is the limestone), and the dark trim is a custom color, starting with a base of BM 1617.

The reader says that this image captures a good likeness of how the brick looks most of the day – typical lighting conditions.  Image via Burns & Beyerl Architects, the architects of this wonderful project.

Here is a photo of the back of the house. The white trim and railings are a custom color, starting with a base of BM China White.  I really love the contrast and the color palette of this house, and the reader is thrilled with her house and how the painted brick looks.

I loved writing this post, and hope that it helps expand the paint color options for those of you considering painted brick for your house.  I have been very happy with my painted brick (and am working on a separate post about my specific color selection process); it’s a classic look here in Atlanta, as you can see from this post (many of the houses are in Atlanta, although there are also midwest, east coast, west coast, and Texas examples too). 

Is painted brick common in your area? Are you considering painting your brick?  If you have any good images of painted brick houses and you know the colors used, I would love to see them!  I can be emailed at

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  1. I loved this post on painted brick! We grew up in New Orleans and it reminds me of home. I especially love the last photo, but wondered if you knew what the dark/black color is?

    Also, we have a stone and shingle house, and I was thinking about mortar washing/lime washing the stone. Our home is very old (built in 1944)and in need of a cosmetic update. Do you have any photos of mortar washed stone?
    Thank you

  2. the dark trim is a custom color, starting with a base of BM 1617.

  3. We will be painting our house this summer - but instead of using traditional paint, we will use Permatint. It stains the brick rather than coating it. The finish lasts 30 years and allows the mortar to breath {apparently important for your house mortar to breath}.

    I love the look of painted houses - it's more upkeep but really pretty.

  4. Hi! Loved the post on painted brick--a favorite of mine on any exterior! My home is the one about 2/3 of the way down the article--the Blake Shaw home painted White Dove by Benjamin Moore. No trim color was listed. It is White Dove as well, and our shutter color is Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore.

  5. I have always loved painted brick - this is a great post with every house with wonderful paint combos!!

  6. How timely! Two minutes before reading this post I was replying to one of the painter's estimates for painting our brick!
    Then after reading this I excitedly reached for my Sherwin William's paint deck and it opened right up to Relaxed Khaki; an omen?!

    BM White Dove is one of my favorites and I have used it for all my interior trim and kitchen cabinets, and had already pretty much decided on that for our exterior trim. Painting brick is such a huge decision. Scary. Expensive.

    As a result of reading your original post on painted brick, it led me to research Roma paints. One of the painters was familiar with them and contacted the owner and asked good questions. He claims that using Roma's mineral paint would cost less, since only one coat would be necessary as the mineral paint "becomes part of the brick", and should last 50 years! It can be tinted with any color. Sounds too good to be true. I would be interested to know if any of your readers have used Roma paint. If I recall, weren't you thinking about using them?

    I sure hope your post about your own choices comes soon! Can't wait to read it!

    Kristen W. in Atlanta


  8. This was very timely and worth sitting here for half an hour while I waited for our painfully slow internet to load the photos! We have bought a brick house which we are going to paint white, so great to see all these various options and the end result. Amazing how they all read white, even thought the amount of tint varies in each. Just goes to show that agonising over which shade of white paint you chose can be wasted effort, they all look great in the end!

  9. Great post! Let us know if you do a follow-up on wood frame houses. We had the opportunity to change the exterior color scheme on our Colonial Revival home several years ago & agonized over the decision. Our architect came up with two color schemes as alternatives to the existing creamy yellow clapboard with true black shutters and white trim, and we tweaked those options. I absolutely love the clapboard color we chose (Porter Paint Group/PPG Turtle Dove, a grayish light green) and the shutter & front door color (PPG Phantom Mist, a "black" that reads chocolate brown in certain light), I like the trim color (PPG Silver Feather), but we completely messed up the brick color (chimney and foundation at rear). We initially used a PPG pewter color that read way too cold. After trying a bunch of alternatives on the brick over the course of a year, we chose SW Anonymous (a "greige" that reads more like an olive green on our brick). It's not perfect but better than the first color. Exterior paint colors are hard. Even something as seemingly simple as "black shutters" can result in shutters that read as purple, navy, hunter green, or chocolate brown, depending on the particular shade of black that is chosen!

  10. Thanks for this well researched post. Always informative & Inspiring.

    We have used Roma products & loved them. We had them tint five different samples for one house & I thought the coverage was terrific. Roma was most helpful & their color match is spot on.

    On another project, we asked our mason to mix cumberland sand to our exterior paint & apply it with a roller brush straight to the brick. This gave just a small amount of texture to the brick but still allowed you to see the brick lines. (similar to a mortar rub but not as heavy). I loved the result & it was very cost effective. The trick is to complete a whole wall section at one time.

  11. I love putty gray painted brick like Skimming stone by Farrow & Ball! Love!

  12. Love painted brick myself but its not a very popular option in these rarely see it. I love taupey-gray colors the most and of course an old house with painted brick that slightly reveals a natural patina by allowing the brick color to come the products you love, the outlet for the smartphone is so clever!! Have a great day.....

  13. I dream of painting our brick! It's not awful, but I do love a painted brick.

  14. I just love painted brick...sent this post to my friend who is building a home now with it. Excellent post! I have painted brick fireplaces for clients...usually after a bit resistance...but then approval.

  15. A wonderful roundup Holly and a great post. This has got to be the single most difficult decor decision in a house!!! :)

    xo Terri

  16. Thinking of painting our 1973 Colonial (lower brick) white. Scarey. I like a "French" look and there's only so much I can do with a standard 2 story Colonial without major renovation. I have seen a lot of blue-ish shutters on French styles.. Your post shows many coordinated with shades darker than the brick paint. What's your opinion? Is there a post on the professional process of painting exterior brick? Really enjoyed your post! Thank you!


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