Four tips for blending your new addition with the existing house

Often a test of the success or failure of any home remodeling project is whether a reasonable person can identify the new structure. Home remodeling projects that blend in with the existing structures will get high marks, while those that stick out will not. If you have an existing house with natural brick, you'll be faced with one of three options:
  • Find a brick that matches your existing brick very closely,
  • Paint your entire house to achieve a uniform and consistent look, and
  • Install an covering such as Hardy Boy plank over everything or your new addition
Getting a Good match to your existing bricks First, take some existing bricks and mortar to a brick supply factory or supplier. Not only the color is important, but the shape and size of the bricks have to be considered. Explain to the brick supplier what you are trying to do. Photos of your house are helpful too to give the supplier an idea of the area you are trying to match. Ask the supplier if your existing brick is still available. You may be lucky and it is. It may look a bit different because your existing brick has been exposed to the elements, but it will be good enough. If your existing brick is not in circulation, then ask the supplier to assist you in matching new brick and mortar to the existing brick. The brick supplier can't make the final decision, but they can at least narrow it down. Write the name and serial number of the brick and mortar colors on a sheet of paper. Then get samples of the best matching bricks and mortars. Take these home and put them next to your house to see how it looks from the street and very close. Make a selection on the brick and mortar color and inform your mason in writing. When the bricks and mortar are delivered, check the names with your sheet. Transitioning from old to new brick The biggest challenge that you will have is area where the new and old brick meet. In our case, we were converting an existing screened porch that was on a concrete base. The base had was covered in brick. This would eventually become part of our family room. Once we had selected our bricks, our mason suggested that we do a row of bricks that was staggered and slightly elevated. This has the effect of fooling the eye, because the elevated bricks break up the difference between the new and older bricks. In the photo below, the existing brick is below the elevated bricks. By all means save your old bricks if you can. If you are going to be adding new windows, the mason will have to tooth the brick and those old bricks can be recycled around the windows. Paint Your Brick or create a white washed brick You can paint your brick to attain a uniform look. You'll just have to resolve yourself to do so periodically as long as you own the house. Another option suggested by an architect that we worked with, was to paint the house with cheapest brand of white paint you can find. The objective is to achieve a white washed look as shown in the photo. The cheap paint will peel eventually. Many colonial style homes have had their brick painted and can be seen with the paint peeling. It's an interesting look that you may want to consider. Use Siding to transform your entire house or the new addition You can also use pre-painted fiber cement siding on the new addition or on the entire house. James Hardie siding also comes in pre-painted colors and is popular on many homes in the Washington DC area. It also comes primed and can be painted any color. We used James Hardie pre-painted siding on a gable in the backyard of the new addition. The 50 year warranty and 15 year paint warranty are hard to beat and it is easy to install. Download James Hardie literature [PDF] and take a look at the James Hardie ColorPlus siding color selections.