Your natural brick is hiding underneath a layer of paint. Whether it is the victim of a trend, or just a matter of preference, it is time to set it free!
Here is a guide on everything you need to know about removing paint from brick.
Table of Contents
- Paint and Bricks – What You Must Know
- What You Will Need to Remove Paint from Brick
- How to Remove Paint from Brick – The Process
- What if the Paint Doesn’t Come off?
Paint and Bricks – What You Must Know
Brick is a porous building material. This means there are a lot of nooks and crannies that will be filled with paint. Unfortunately, this makes paint removal difficult.
Completely restoring brick to its original, non-painted state may be near impossible. This is due to the basic nature of brick. Apart from being porous, it’s way too uneven for a simple sanding job.
Bricks can also be fragile, especially if they are old. Some paint strippers are extremely caustic and can damage bricks. Check the instructions on the paint stripper to make sure it is intended for use on masonry. Avoid products with methylene chloride as an ingredient.
So, what’s the takeaway?
If you’re looking to paint over the brick anyway, it’s much easier to do so without trying to remove existing paint. Just prep the surface, apply primer and apply the new coat of paint directly on top.
If you must restore the brick to near its original condition, sandblasting and similarly expensive methods are your only real bet.
If the paint was accidentally spilled on the brick and didn’t have a long time to dry, you can try applying a paint removal solvent and pressure wash the affected area afterwards.
Just know – there will be a mess! Plan ahead to protect the rest of your home from the chemicals you will be using to remove paint.
Your brick will be slightly more fragile after the paint stripper has been applied. Check the forecast. Avoid using paint stripper on outdoor brick if there is a chance of freezing temperatures within the next month.
What You Will Need to Remove Paint from Brick
You will be working with chemicals and paint. It is important to suit up properly! You will need:
- Safety goggles to protect your eyes.
- A breathing mask to protect your airways from airborne fumes and particles.
- A long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
- Rubber gloves or work gloves.
- Any other protective gear recommended on the package instructions for your paint stripper.
Drop Cloths and Plastic Sheeting
These are especially important if you are working indoors! Drop cloths will protect your flooring and the surrounding area. If there is drywall or plaster next to the bricked area, make sure it is protected with plastic sheeting and masking tape.
I recommend a gel or paste type of paint stripper. It will cling to vertical surfaces much better than a spray. Look for a formula that removes latex paint from masonry, like this one. Always read and follow all instructions for best results.
Spackle Knife or Trowel (or both!)
A spackle knife is useful for applying the paint stripper and removing layers of paint. If you don’t have a spackle knife, a sturdy trowel may also be helpful for scooping compounds and scraping paint.
Peeling strips are merely sheets of plastic or strips of fabric. Their purpose is to pull the paint away from the bricks. You may use plain plastic sheeting, cut into 3-foot squares, or you can purchase peeling strips specifically designed for paint removal.
You will need a sturdy scrub brush (or two!) with wire bristles to scrub away stubborn paint flecks.
How to Remove Paint from Brick – The Process
You’ve got all your supplies, and you are ready to begin! Here are the steps to beautiful, paint-free brick. Remember, this can be a slow process. Be patient. This is a slow, messy job, but it will be worth it in the end!
Test the Materials on the Brick
Paint remover is caustic! Test it on a small, inconspicuous area of brick before you get started. Let it sit for a few minutes, then remove it with a cloth.
How does your brick react? If the paint remover is eating through the brick, you may want to come up with a different solution! Try a different chemical compound, look into hiring a professional, or make your peace with painted brick.
Using a test area can also give you an idea of how easy or difficult it will be to get the paint off the brick surface. If the paint remover has no effect on the test area, you may want to try a different solution.
Prep the Area
Once you have determined that your paint remover works well with your brick, you’re almost ready to get started! Prep work may feel like a waste of time, but it is very important. Not only do you need to prepare the bricks, but you also need to protect the surrounding areas.
Start by washing or rinsing the bricked area with warm water. If you are indoors, use a scrub brush and bucket of water to remove all dirt and debris from the brick. A garden hose will work well to rinse outdoor brick clean.
If you are removing paint from indoor brick, protect the surrounding area and make clean up easier by using drop cloths or tarps. Tape the bottom of the drop cloth to the edge of the brick to contain the mess. You will want to use painters’ tape and plastic sheeting to cover and protect any nearby finished or painted surfaces.
Covering doors and vents in the room can help minimize the spread of dust to the rest of the home.
Apply the Paint Stripper
Use your spackle knife or trowel to generously spread the paint stripper over the painted brick. Don’t be hesitant to lay it on thick! Use the spackle knife to push the compound into any cracks or holes in the brick and mortar.
Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Apply the paint remover as recommended for the best results.
Apply Peeling Strips
While the paint remover compound is still wet, apply the plastic sheeting or peeling strips. It is fine to overlap! You want to make sure that no brick is visible.
If you have a large area to cover, it may work better to apply the compound to a small area, cover it with peeling strips, then move onto the next area. The peeling strips or plastic sheeting need to be applied while the paint remover is still wet.
Your paint remover should have a recommended waiting time in the instructions. If you are only dealing with one layer of paint, 30 minutes may be plenty of time! Multiple layers of paint will take longer for the compound to permeate.
Some manufacturers recommend allowing the paint remover to cure for up to 24 hours before removal.
Remove Peeling Strips
Start the removal process in an inconspicuous area. Carefully pull back one corner of the peeling strip. If the paint is not coming off, allow it to cure for a longer period of time.
Once you have determined that the compound has cured long enough, start removing the peeling strips. Use the putty knife to help the paint come away from the brick. Go slowly! Paint removal is a careful process, not a race.
Scrub the Bricks
Once all the peeling strips have been removed, use your heavy-duty scrub brush to work at the rest of the paint flakes. Rinse the area with water, as needed.
Repeat, As Needed
Multiple layers of paint may require multiple treatments! Watch your brick carefully to see how it reacts to another layer of paint remover. Repeat the entire process, as needed.
What if the Paint Doesn’t Come off?
Many painting companies also offer paint removal services! Call a trusted contractor to get a quote. Do keep in mind that it’ll probably be very expensive to avail professional paint removal for a large enough brick surface.
Paint removal is a tedious, messy process, especially when it comes to brick! But, it can be done. Gather your tools, and follow these steps to reveal your natural brick.