How To Remove Paint from Brick

To remove paint from bricks without damaging it is not easy. If not done properly, the process can become time consuming expensive, caustic, and can cause permanent damage to your brick.

There are options to remove paint from bricks. Some options can be messy and even dangerous. Choose which option best fits your purpose:

Sandblasting or Power washing. This is best used when remodeling a house. You can easily sandblast interior bricks, but there are disadvantages.

  • Sandblasting or power washing uses strong force that can damage bricks.
  • Sandblasting can erode the brick’s protective exterior and damage it.
  • Only professionals should power-wash bricks.

After sandblasting or power washing, you still need to go through all the bricks to remove any remaining paint patches by hand with a wire brush.

Applying a Lye-based Solution. Sodium hydroxide is found in chemical products used to dissolve drain clogs. It is used to remove paint from bricks but is very toxic and volatile. If you use lye, make sure to first review the safety data sheet regarding the use of sodium hydroxide to know the potential dangers and risk involved.

Wear covering similar to a HAZMAT suit since sodium hydroxide is really caustic. Wear a mask, a long sleeved shirt, or even a raincoat.

To make a lye-based solution, take caution in putting lye powder in the water when you mix the solution. Do not put the water into the powder because this may cause an explosion or create fire.

Depending on how much paint is to be removed, the lye treatment process may be repeated and can take weeks.

Use a wire brush to finish the paint removal process since lye still leaves patches of paint on bricks even after several applications.

Grit Blasting. This is the method used to remove graffiti from building walls. Sodium bicarbonate, pecan, wheat shells, or walnut shells are materials used. There are companies that specialize in grit blasting who can complete the work properly.

Paint Thinner, Paint Stripper or Solvents. The more common method to strip paint is to use a paint thinner, stripper or solvent. Here are some tips.

a.    Use any paint stripper bought from a hardware store. Napier's ''Removall'' is effective at stripping paint since it is non MC based and safe to use.

  • Apply paint stripper on the bricks.
  • Let it completely dry for at least 24 hours.
  • Use a bristle brush, coarse sand paper or sander to scrub out the paint.
  • Use a rag with paint thinner to wipe away thinner layers
  • Get into the grooves, mortar and crevices to remove remaining paint.

b.    Use a paint-melting gun with a marine stripper like Strypeeze or Zip Strip.

  • Turn on and set the melting gun on "low".
  • Apply heat on the paint waving the gun back and forth around 1 inch above a small area of paint.
  • Turn the gun off when the paint begins to bubble
  • Scrape off the paint using a semi-firm scraper.

c.    Use a non-chemical solution like Soy Gel to remove old paint.

  • Spread the gel on a test area.
  • Leave the gel to harden. The longer it is left on, the easier it is to peel off the paint.
  • When the first layer wrinkles, peel it off like a latex layer.
  • Apply gel on the next layer.
  • Use a small putty knife to scrape off the next layers of paint.
  • Take a wire brush to reveal the red brick’s original color.



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