1. Sand Blasting & Pressure Washing – Sand blasting is done with a compressor and a blasting tank that has been charged with an abrasive material such as finely graded sand, quartz, or granite. The air pressure is applied to the brick and can be adjusted according to how many pounds per square inch. The blasting pattern is determined by the nozzle size. Pressure washing is pretty much the same concept, but it is done with water. The negative aspect of sand blasting and even pressure washing brick is that it could erode the face of the brick and mortar, especially if it is old brick that is not in great condition. Brick is also porous, and if moisture gets into it, it needs to dry properly. So, if you are working with exterior brick – make sure the weather is not cold. If the brick freezes with moisture locked inside, it can cause permanent damage, And if you are working with handmade or reclaimed brick, you do not want to use these methods because it can damage and disfigure the surface.
2. Paint Stripper / Chemicals – Paint thinner is good to use on Oil based paint, but an air respirator will need to be used to protect from the fumes. If it is an interior paint removal project, than you will need to make sure that the room has good ventilation. Once the stripper has been applied, you would then scrub the paint off with a hard bristle brush. This is a very tedious process. You will have to do this in several layers in order to remove all the paint, especially in the recessed areas of the brick and mortar.
3. Gel / Paste Removers – This is said to be the best method to use when stripping paint from brick. It is still just as tedious, but the gel / paste removers are not as harsh and toxic. For older paint (before 1970) that may contain lead, it is best to apply the remover and then adhere strips of fabric to the surface. Once the paint softens, the fabric can be peeled away along with the paint which helps keep from dispersing the harmful lead. This method is used for historic brick restoration.
If you are using any of the above methods, be sure to test a small inconspicuous area first to see how the brick will hold up, whether or not the actual brick is in good condition, and if it is truly the best method to use. Some chemicals can cause discoloration of the brick. And the brick may actually be in horrible condition underneath the paint. There may be a reason why it was painted in the first place. So figure all of that out before you do all of that work stripping the paint from your brick and have to wind up painting over it anyway.
If you are in doubt about attempting this task on your own, it may be worth it for you to hire a professional painting contractor to strip the brick for you. Many painting contractors offer this service. Please check out our directory of qualified painters to see if there is anyone who can help you within your local area. Just add your info in the yellow search box at the top of the page.