HGTV's Chip Gaines Says To Think Twice Before Making This Controversial Design Choice

Chip Gaines has flipped his fair share of houses. Not only have he and his wife, Joanna Gaines, performed renovation miracles inside of outdated or dilapidated homes, but they have also significantly boosted curb appeal by tweaking the exteriors. The couple has done everything from adding porches to making entryways more grand to installing bigger windows. But one thing that Chip wants you to think twice about is painting beautiful brick exteriors. This might come as a surprise to some since the Gainses have painted their fair share of brown and tan houses white, and while it doesn't seem like he has any qualms about changing the color of regular developer-built homes, he wants folks to reconsider before touching older brick that was clearly made by a craftsperson.

When the couple was flipping the 1964 ranch house of their employee, John, in Season 1, Episode 2 of "Fixer Upper: Welcome Home," John mentioned he was fond of painted brick and would probably want to change the reddish tone of his ranch. "When you paint brick, it's a bit of a controversial thing," Chip countered. "This antique brick — like, people pay a lot of money to get this cool, old brick — it would be a disservice to this brick to paint it when it's this cool-looking." Here's a closer look at the Gaines' reasoning.

You can't undo painted brick

Part of the reason both Chip and Joanna Gaines advise against painting interesting antique brick is that you can't undo the paint job. Once you spray down the facade with your chosen color, you can't scrape or peel it off if you change your mind. Because of that, you have to stop and really consider if it's worth altering its original appearance, or if you could modernize the front of the house in other ways. For instance, in that same episode, Chip instead pressure washed the home's exterior to make it feel refreshed. Joanna also painted the window trims and doors black to make it feel more contemporary. "So you remember the plan was to paint the brick?" Joanna asked John over the phone. "So now that we've done the trim, I love what the trim color did to the brick as far as, like, highlighted it and made it more modern."

"The biggest issue is that we can't undo it," Joanna explained. "So if we hate it — cream with a charcoal cut in half — we can't power wash it and get the brick back." Instead, they convinced John to leave the original color and offered to paint it later down the road if he decided he really wanted a white exterior. However, the original craftsmanship isn't the only thing to consider. Painting brick can also damage the house.

Painting brick can damage the structure

While painting your brick might seem like an easy way to modernize your old house, it's not recommended. That's because the material is very porous, which means that water can easily get inside. However, the paint will act as a non-breathable encasement, which will trap the water, making it difficult to evaporate. If that happens, it will eventually freeze when the temperature dips down at night or during the changing seasons. When water freezes, it expands, which will push against the confines of the brick. If this happens enough times — when the water freezes and thaws — the brick will begin to break or crumble. This can lead to permanent damage. 

Instead of using regular paint, reach for a more breathable stain, such as limewash or milk paint. Both options are breathable, which allows trapped water to evaporate. This will ensure no damage is done to the structure. In addition, both products contain minerals , which overtime embed themselves into the brick and help better protect it from the outside elements.