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How to Remove Paint from Brick
There is no getting around the fact that removing paint from brick is no simple task. Most methods for removing paint from brick have considerable drawbacks—they can be caustic, expensive, time-consuming, and can permanently damage your brick.
This article explores several of the options available for removing paint from brick—especially indoor brick, such as that in a brick fireplace—as well as less dangerous and invasive solutions to ugly painted brick.
Doing It the Hard Way: Standard Options for Removing Paint from Brick
Most options for removing paint from bricks in your home are dismal at best, dangerous at worst. You be the judge: Would you like to experiment with any of the following techniques in your home?
1. Power washing and sandblasting. This almost seems ludicrous to mention for interior applications, but if you are flipping a house or remodeling, you could conceivably sandblast interior brick. But consider the following before renting that equipment:
- Sandblasting or power washing brick is the most damaging way to remove paint from brick due to its forceful nature
- Sandblasting brick erodes the protective exterior of brick. This can lead to further damage later.
- Power washing brick must be done by professionals, which is not very cost effective to remove fireplace brick paint affordably.
- Even after you sandblast or power wash brick, you will still probably need to go over the remaining patches of paint with a wire brush to remove them by hand.
2. Lye. Yes, Lye! Although toxic, lye (or sodium hydroxide) is the same ingredient found in products marketed to dissolve clogs in drains. Some people use it to remove paint from their brick and they must be rather brave considering the following factors:
- To make the lye-based solution to remove paint from your brick fireplace all you do is mix some water with the powdered lye solution. But remember to put the lye into the water, because if you forget and do it the other way it will explode or catch fire!
- If you still want to remove paint from bricks with lye, you will need something akin to a hazmat suit—this chemical really is that caustic. Any contact with skin requires immediate first aid. Consider wearing long sleeves, a mask, and possibly even a raincoat.
- Lye can also require repeated treatments. Sometimes the process can take weeks.
- Once again, have a wire brush handy to finish the job as lye generally leaves unsightly patches of paint on the brick—even after several applications.
- If you do decide to try lye to remove paint from brick, be sure to review the material safety data sheet for sodium hydroxide to review the risks and potential dangers.
3. Paint stripper, paint thinners, and other solvents. A quick internet search should make it obvious that there is no magic bullet when it comes to removing paint from brick. Of course, people have come up with their own homemade recipes—generally involving even more caustic chemicals that were not even designed for use with brick. These include paint stripper, paint thinner, and even a type of marine stripper including several caveats about how dangerously strong it is.
The problems with these pseudo brick paint removers are numerous:
- As they are not designed to work with brick, they can ruin the brick, compromise the brick’s integrity, and even ruin the mortar.
- Due to the relative weakness of some of these products, their endorsements often include that it took weeks to complete, was tedious, and even required scrubbing the brick with a tooth brush.
- The products can have dangerous chemical reactions with pre-existing paints, tints, or treatment.
Safer Way to Remodel Ugly Painted Brick Fireplace
Despite anyone’s claims to the contrary, there is no safe, easy way to remove paint from brick. But there is a safe and easy alternative to remodel a fireplace with ugly paint—and one that gives you the look of natural brick.
Brick-Anew is a patented brick fireplace painting process that is specially formulated for painting old, ugly brick. Unlike the odious task of removing brick paint, Brick-Anew offers a more practical and efficient solution that can be done quickly, easily, and safely. You can paint over existing paint, and being acrylic based, you can do so with out the fear of hazardous fumes, the danger of unexpected chemical reactions, or the expense of having to hire outside help.
The obvious advantages to using Brick-anew when dealing with brick paint:
- Brick-Anew is a brick paint kit that is formulated to approximate the look of real Brick.
- Brick-Anew will make your painted brick look new and real again.
- Brick-Anew is latex, thus it is very safe and not reactive to other substances.
- Brick-Anew is a simple, do-it yourself process requiring no outside help.
- No explosions or even any threats of explosions!
- No scrubbing the brick with a wire brush.
- The specially formulated paint is fire-resistant and perfect for your brick fireplace.
- You can get great results in a single weekend instead of toiling away for a month.
- Is a great solution if you are even thinking about redoing your fireplace.
- If you don’t like it, you can always paint over it.
If your brick fireplace seems beyond help, Brick-Anew is a great way to try to remodel and revitalize it with very little investment of time and money. Check out these testimonials from actual customers including pictures of brick fireplaces that have been “brought back from the brink.”
Of course, if you WANT to spend hours on your hands and knees inhaling chemicals or scrubbing bricks with a wire brush, you can get some pretty good results. Otherwise you might want to tackle your brick remodeling project in a novel and efficient manner with the end result looking like real brick.
For more information, tips, and ideas for fireplace painting, visit our Fireplace Painting Resource Page.