Covering the Brick on Your House

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Although brick is a common housing material, sometimes a new look can freshen up a home.
Although brick is a common housing material, sometimes a new look can freshen up a home. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Although brick is a solid construction material used in homes around the world, over time, you might find the material lacking in color and beauty. Brick can be covered by a variety of materials and still provide the structural stability that made it such a great building material in the first place. Knowing which materials work best with brick can ensure the life of your home for years to come.

Stucco

All stucco muds require a concrete or stone-based foundation layer to adhere to, and brick provides a natural starting point for a stucco installation. Apply stucco in any way you see fit, either spraying it on with a machine, or tooling it on with flat trowels to achieve custom textures. For best results, apply the stucco in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch layers, and let them dry in between layers according to manufacturer guidelines, adding more layers until you achieve the desired results.

Tile

Tile is another tried-and-true material that easily installs over the top of brick. The first step is making the brick surface flat and suitable for a tile installation by filling in the grout joints between the bricks with a flat metal trowel and cement mortar. After this initial “scratch coat” has been applied to the brick and allowed to dry, you have a flat surface to install your tile. Use ceramic or natural stone tiles, as well as veneers or flagstone material, depending on your preference for rustic or contemporary styles. Apply thinset mortar directly to the face of the brick installation, and press the tiles into place. For best results, work your way up the wall from the bottom to the top, installing 3 to 4 feet of vertical height per day to avoid sagging issues.

Paint

You have three options when it comes to painting brick installations. Paint the brick as-is, and either give the entire installation a one-color scheme, or stain and paint the face of the bricks and cover the old brick with a new face. The third option is completely covering the brick installation in a concrete layer, similar to what you would do for a ceramic-tile installation during the scratch coat. After the concrete has been flat-troweled onto the surface and allowed to dry, sand it down, and sweep or vacuum it, then paint it with your chosen paint to leave a flat finish where brick once showed.

Considerations

Brick is a porous material and needs to be allowed to breathe, even if it is covered with another material. For this reason, wood coverings are not recommended over the top of brick, as there is constant moisture from the brick naturally breathing in and out, expelling condensation. Make sure you use a concrete-based stucco when applying over the top of brick, not a fiberglass-based stucco, as you need the final layer to be breathable. Paint the stucco a variety of different colors, add dyes to the stucco during mixing, or purchase pre-dyed stucco. When flat-troweling concrete mortar onto the face of brick, work your way from the bottom up, and ensure you fill all the joints flush with the brick, as well as cover the brick in a thin layer to fill in pockmarked surface.

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