In districts where the color of the brick is of a sombre hue, and not too bright a red, you need not resort to painting; it certainly is not necessary for the preservation of the material, and if left in its natural state is productive of a very pleasing effect, when used in combination with an appropriate colored stone for the window dressings and ether ornamental portions.
For cottage residences, and small villas, it certainly produces a fine appearance to leave the brickwork in its natural state, having the joints pointed with blue or dark mortar. When to this is added a few graceful creeping vines, tastefully trained upon the walls, a very picturesque and rural effect is obtained. In Europe, it is a very rare occurrence to see a brick house painted but in this country, where it is almost the custom to have a general renovating at short intervals, and we are ever anxious for a constant change, painting the outside of a brick house appears almost indispensable. It certainly has its advantages, inasmuch as we are thus enabled to select any shade of color that best pleases our taste and combines with the surrounding objects; and, at the same time, it acts as a preventive against moisture, for the brick being a great absorbent, the painting overcomes this obstacle.
A dry common brick will absorb at least a pint of water. Pressed brick will not absorb one half as much, being harder and more compact. From this one can get some idea of the amount of moisture retained in a brick wall after a heavy shower, or more especially during the rainy season. Paint fills the pores of the brick, and forms a covering or metallic coating which effectually prevents absorption.
In painting brickwork, if common brick is used, it should be first rubbed down as before stated. Then it should receive two coats of linseed-oil, half raw and half boiled, and afterward two, or, better, three coats of oil and white lead paint.
Cementing the outside of a brick house is sometimes resorted to. We have, however, seen so many cases of its utter failure, that we seldom advise its adoption.