How To Remove Paint From Brick [7 Steps]

Removing paint from brick is not as easy as other surfaces. Brick is very porous, so using soap and water is not enough to get the paint out of the deep pores. You will need to do a test to make sure you want to complete the project and take some steps to prepare for the paint removal process. We have researched all of the steps to complete the project and the important things you need to consider before getting started.

You will need a stripping agent to remove paint from brick. There are several steps to follow to get the best result and not waste your time or energy. Here are the steps.

  1. Test the stripping agent in a small area.
  2. Prepare tarps or plastic sheets to collect paint flakes that are removed.
  3. Wear protective gear, including eyewear, gloves, and a mask.
  4. Scrape away any loose paint with a trowel.
  5. Mix the stripping agent (if necessary)
  6. Apply the stripping agent using a stiff brush
  7. Wait 10 minutes or longer. Reapply and brush again.

Removing paint from brick is time-consuming and messy. You may wonder if there are easier options, such as using a pressure washer. That technique might cause some unwanted issues with your bricks, and we will discuss that further in this post. This post will also give you the needed information to decide if removing the paint is something you want to move forward with or if you want to hire a professional to avoid the messiness and time constraints of the project. We will discuss each step in more detail below.

A brick wall and wooden floor domestic room, How To Remove Paint From Brick [7 Steps]

1. Test The Stripping Agent On A Small Area

Find a small section of brick that is mostly out of view to test the stripping agent. You want to see what the brick will look like when the paint is stripped away. You might find that you don't like the underlying brick's color tone after you remove the paint. In this case, you will be happy that you tested it on a small area that is mostly out of sight. You don't want to start in the most frequented area only to realize that you don't want to go through with the project.

2. Prepare The Workspace

Removing paint from any surface is a messy project that will drop flakes of paint all over the ground. You don't want these to end up in your garden or lawn. You can make cleanup a faster process by using tarps or plastic sheets on the ground and taped to the brick's bottom edge.

3. Wear Protective Gear

Paint strippers and paint chips can be toxic to your health, so you should take adequate precautions before beginning the removal process. Wear protective eyewear, gloves, and a mask. You should also wear a long shirt and pants to avoid skin exposure. Always read the manufacturer's guidelines for using the thinning agent and wear any protective gear that is recommended.

4. Scrape Away Loose Paint

You can scrape away loose paint with a trowel, putty knife, or wire brush. It may take some muscle to knock away all of the loose paint flakes. If you have a smaller job without a lot of paint to remove, you might be able to do most of the work with a heat gun. This process is a bit slow as you must hold the heat gun to the brick's surface for up to twenty minutes before the paint can be peeled away with a trowel. If you have a larger job, skip the heat gun and move onto the next step.

5. Mix The Stripping Agent

There are different kinds of stripping agents that can be used to remove the paint from brick. Read the manufacturer's directions on how much to dilute the thinner before application. Agents are typically mixed at two or three to one ratio of water to stripping agent. That means for every gallon of water, you will use one-third of a gallon or one half of a gallon of stripping agent according to the manufacturer guidelines.

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6. Apply The Stripping Agent

The best tool to use is a long stiff brush. You can dip the brush into the bucket mixture and apply it to the surfaces you wish to remove paint. Scrub these areas with the brush as you are applying the mixture. Once you have applied the mixture to all areas, then move onto the next step.

7. Wait, And Repeat the Last Step

Allow the stripping agent to sit on the brick for at least 10 minutes. Scrub the surface areas once again and repeat steps six and seven until all of the paint is removed. If you end up with paint stuck inside the pores and crevices, you may need to remove these areas with a paint removal gel or scouring powder for the most difficult sections.

What Are The Different Types Of Paint Thinner?

The two main types of paint thinner are caustic and solvent. Caustic thinners are water-based, with lye as the active ingredient. There are two types of lye, either potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. The lye causes a reaction in the paint that creates soap, and then it can be removed. The lye in this product can cause skin irritation or burning. Make sure to follow the recommended safety precautions and cover up your hands, arms, legs, and face to avoid contact with the skin.

Solvent paint thinners have traditionally been made with methylene chloride as the active ingredient. Research has shown a higher rate of cancer in people that have been exposed to methylene chloride, and the EPA has banned it in all products as of November 2019. Solvent products will contain some mixture of mineral spirits, ethanol, methanol, or xylene. Mineral spirits are made 100 percent of petroleum distillates and are considered a safe option in paint thinning solvents.

Will Pressure Washing Remove Paint From Brick?

Pressure washing or power washing can remove paint from brick, but you need to be careful. Before choosing this option, inspect your bricks for any signs of deterioration. Using a power washer can damage the structure of the bricks and make them look worse than before you started the process. Power washers can be set to different intensities, and it is recommended you stick with a low setting to remove paint from brick.

Brick wall texture

Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Brick?

White distilled vinegar is an excellent solvent used for removing paint. It is often used to remove paint from brushes and can also be used to remove paint from brick. Use a one to one dilution of water to white distilled vinegar to create your paint removal solution. Then you can use something scratchy like steel wool to absorb the water and scrub the paint on the bricks. This is an environmentally friendly option and is also cost-effective.

Will Acetone Remove Paint From Brick?

Acetone is a potentially harmful solvent if too many fumes are inhaled, but it works well to remove paint from bricks. Many paint thinner you can purchase on the market will contain acetone as the primary ingredient to remove paint from surfaces. Acetone is also the primary ingredient or only ingredient in nail polish remover.

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Does Paint Thinner Remove Paint From Brick?

Paint thinner is made to remove different kinds of paint from various types of surfaces, including brick. Any paint thinner you buy should work to remove paint from brick at varying levels of success. You may want to use a paint thinner that is more friendly to the environment and is not toxic to breathe. Look for a paint thinner that has low volatile compounds (VOC). You may want to try white distilled vinegar before making a paint thinner purchase because you might already have some in your house.

Grungy brick wall background

Is Painting Brick A Bad Idea?

Painting brick is a bad idea if you use the wrong kind of paint. Brick is a porous surface and needs to be able to breathe to maintain its structure. For this reason, you should never apply oil or latex paint to bricks. Silica-based mineral paint is the best choice for adding paint to bricks. The bricks will absorb the paint and not cause the bricks to be structurally affected by the weather. When you apply a waterproofing layer of latex or oil paint on brick, it will trap moisture. Eventually, it will peel and cause lasting damage to the integrity of the bricks. If you're considering brick interior walls, read about stone veneer as an alternative option here.

Should I Hire A Paint Removal Professional?

If the steps and process of removing paint yourself seems too messy or difficult, you can hire a contractor to do the job. The cost of paint removal can run from $3.50 to $7.50 per square foot. Most contractors that do paint removal specialize in lead paint removal. Lead paint hasn't been used or sold since 1978. Even though newer paints are not made with lead, they can still be toxic. By hiring a contractor, you ask them to assume the risk of exposure, and this factors into the cost.

In Closing

Many different kinds of paint thinners can be used to remove paint from brick or other surfaces. Brick is trickier than wood and other materials because of the porous surface. Manufacturers have worked on making safer products for consumers that comply with EPA guidelines. Even so, many existing products on the market are harmful if adequate precautions are not taken. You should make every effort to protect your lungs, face, arms, legs, and any skin that might otherwise come into contact with the paint thinner.

If you want an easier paint removal option, then power washing might work. Make sure to inspect the bricks closely as pressure washers can damage them. If your bricks are not deteriorating, you may use a pressure washer on a low setting to remove the paint. This is another job that can be contracted to a professional for the best results. Whatever your paint removal job, there are several choices you can consider to remove paint from bricks. If you're interested in painting your front porch a new color, read this post to help you decide which color you should choose.

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