It's an Epaintdemic!

Chattanooga is facing an epidemic. A virus is sweeping through our fair city at an alarming rate. It must be stopped, or it will consume us. Do I speak of Ebola? Influenza? Swine flue? H1N1? SARS? Avian Flu? Malaria? Dengue Fever? No, this is far more serious than that. I speak, of course, of the alarming number of people who are painting brick (and stone!) buildings. Yes, that’s right. People are actually applying liquid pigment on top of proud, noble and ancient materials. This short post is an appeal to any and all who would hear. Please stop the insanity. My cause is just, and I offer the following thoughts in support:

Brick is a significant part of our built heritage. Brick buildings and urban Chattanooga have an affinity for one another. From our most iconic structures such as the Choo-Choo, to more modest (but no less important) buildings such as the Trolley Barns, exposed brick is ubiquitous and adds to the authenticity of the community. 

Once you start, you can never stop. After a couple of years, that nice fresh coat of paint will lose its luster and eventually start to peel. The whole building then needs to be cleaned, scraped and repainted. Repeat every few years. This is a labor intensive and expensive maintenance proposition.

Brick is beautiful. The color and texture of brick are assets. Let the material speak for itself. While painting brick not as egregious as stamping concrete, or painting EIFS to look like things they are not, it is in the same spirit. Covering the material is in essence denying what it is. If a building is made of brick, let the brick be itself. 

It is an unnecessary expense. I fear that people often paint their brick buildings simply because they feel like they need to do something. I submit that before one makes this choice, they consider the up-front costs and on-going maintenance cost, and put that money to work on other elements of the program. The brick is just fine- leave it alone.

History is not on your side. There is a 100% chance that subsequent owner of the building will try to restore it. There is also a 100% chance that they will utter the phrase “Why the hell did these people paint the brick?”. While stripping painted brick is possible, the nature of the material makes it virtually impossible to strip completely.

Don't be mad, and don't send hate mail. As with anything, there are exceptions. I am of the opinion, however, that this should be a last resort not a common practice.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I bought my first pair of Air Jordan’s (the white ones) with money earned by painting the brick of my childhood home. Good job Mom. 

...Like it was yesterday...

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