There’s no denying the transformative power of white paint. But think twice before deciding to cover a brick exterior with a fresh coat; a paint job will revamp your home’s look, but the upkeep will probably cause a headache in the long run. (Think chipped paint, dirt, and mildew—not exactly curb appeal boosters.) If you’re determined to give plain brick a face-lift anyway, consider a smarter alternative to painting, like whitewashing. Whitewashing adds instant character, and its perfectly imperfect patinaed look grows even more charming with age.
Master the whitewashed look by picking the right shade of white. The one you choose needs to look good with the original brick and also closely match the color of the mortar between the bricks. Finding the perfect white paint can be intimidating to sort through the hundreds of options on the market. Start by looking for white paint colors with creamy or gray undertones that will match the mortar already on your house.
Our favorite paint color for whitewashing brick is Farrow & Ball’s Pointing (No. 2003). This shade was inspired by the color of grout used in traditional brickwork. Pointing has red-based undertones, which give off a warmer look and also complement the reddish hues of brick. This color is softer shade that blends well with strong, traditional colors, so we recommend this Farrow & Ball paint for your next whitewashing project.
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If you’re looking for an alternative, we also like these white paints: Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster (SW 7008), Sherwin-Williams’ Pure White (SW 7005), Benjamin Moore’s China White (OC-141), and Valspar’s Madison Avenue (7006-14).
For whitewashing projects, choose a latex (or water based) paint. To create the whitewashing mixture, equal parts paint and water are combined. Bricks absorb moisture, so this helps them hold the color for longer. Your whitewashing pattern doesn’t have to be uniform; the variegated look is what adds the charm. Go heavier in some spots, lighter in others, and leave some brick exposed. Remember that paint on brick is permanent, so start with a lighter layer of whitewash to get the desired look—you can always add more later.