Even the most careful of painters can sometimes find paint remaining behind on their brick surfaces, whether it be on the wall or a patio. And once it has dried, removing it is not as simple as just scrubbing it off with a sponge and some dish soap.
Alternatively, perhaps you have an older brick wall that has been painted, and you want to strip it down and return the brick to its original appearance. A larger paint-removal job like this can seem daunting, but rest assured that it is still doable.
Paint tends to cling to brick because it is a porous surface, and the paint particulates can settle deep within the material and the mortar that holds the bricks together. This makes paint difficult to remove from such surfaces without the right tools and instructions.
How To Remove Paint From Brick: All You Need To Know
If you are wondering how to remove paint from your brick, these five easy steps will be exactly what you’re looking for. Make sure to gather the supplies needed for the job and have everything ready to go before you begin the process to avoid any hindrances.
The size of the brick surface to remove paint from will ultimately dictate how long this project takes, but thankfully, it’s a fairly easy DIY job. By following these instructions, you can strip away any pesky paint from your brick surfaces in a weekend or less!
You will need some items for removing paint from brick surfaces, but most are available either within your garage or at your local hardware store. These supplies include:
- Drop Cloth
- Drywall Knife
- Long-Sleeved Shirt or Overshirt
- Paint Stripping Product
- Painter’s Tape
- Peeling Strips
- Plastic Sheeting
- Protective Painter’s Gear
- Safety Goggles
- Stiff-Bristle Wire Brush
What Kind Of Product?
Because the product will arguably be doing most of the work, with some scrubbing assistance from you, choosing the correct one is essential.
To get the paint out of porous brick, using a caustic paint stripping liquid is recommended. This will get into the nooks and crannies of the brick surface and dislodge paint particles from within.
However, there are plenty of products available on the market for removing paint, so how do you choose the right one for the job?
You can find products that are specially formulated for removing paint from brick, but they can be expensive, and compounds with brick acid will work to attack the surface material, but not the paint on top.
Most professionals recommend using a commercial paint stripper with caustic properties or a solution made from trisodium phosphate. Both are extremely effective for stripping paint from brick and can be purchased from your local hardware store.
Paint strippers usually come in a gel, paste, or liquid form. Each has advantages and different ease of application, so consider the condition of your brick and how difficult it might be to apply the product to all the corners and cracks.
Finally, you should avoid using any aerosol paint strippers. These are good for small projects in the house, but not for large brick surfaces. You will find yourself using a lot more product at a much lower success rate with an aerosol spray.
Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
Available in powdered form at your local hardware store, combine a half cup of TSP with a gallon of warm water and stir well. You can scale this either up or down, depending on the size of the area you will be removing paint off of, always sticking to a ratio of 2:1. Mix it in a large, clean bucket and apply it to the painted brick.
When it comes to removing paint from brick, temperatures can play a large part in your project’s success.
The brick’s surface shouldn’t be cold when you attempt to remove the paint. Because bare brick is easily harmed by the elements, including cold air, ensure the surface has not been exposed to freezing or near-freezing temperatures for at least three days before commencing the project.
Most recommend waiting until warm weather or springtime to remove paint from your brick surfaces. Doing so in the winter will only damage the brick itself and give you some very chilly fingers!
Following the Steps
Now that you have assembled your products and supplies, it’s time to tackle that paint. Use these five steps to remove pesky paint from your brick surfaces.
Select a Test Area
It’s important to test the product on a small portion of the brick before you go ahead and apply it to the entire surface. That way, if there is an adverse reaction or the brick becomes discolored, only a small section will be affected instead of whole patches.
Select a swatch of one or two bricks that are in a lower corner, away from where the eye lands as a natural focal point. Then, prepare the area by washing and scraping it, then apply a little bit of product.
Check after about 30 minutes, and if you see good paint removal results without harming the brick, the test has been successful and you can move onto the rest of the surface. However, if anything looks wrong, try again with a different product until you get good results.
Prep The Surface
Cleaning the painted brick before removal is key to the process. Use warm water and a sponge to wipe everything down. You can also use a drywall knife at this point to scrape away any flaky or peeling paint, or to clean out the mortar joints.
Allow your brick surface to dry fully before moving on to the next steps. This can take between an hour to a full day, depending on the size of your brick area and where it’s located, so be patient.
Once your brick has dried up again, it’s time to don your protective gear and tackle the stripping process. Never try to strip paint from brick in just a t-shirt and shorts, for your own safety. The products contain caustic chemicals that can harm your skin as well as peel the paint!
At the very least, you should gear up with a long-sleeved shirt or overshirt, work gloves, safety goggles, and a face mask or respirator to guard against fumes.
According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines, because paint strippers are caustic and contain harmful chemicals, you need to protect your skin, eyes, and lungs from floating particulates or ingestion.
Additionally, this is a good time to lay down any aids for cleaning up after the process is done, including a drop cloth or sheets of plastic. You can tack the sheets down with tape or use heavy rocks to pin down corners and keep things from shifting during the removal.
Apply The Product
Now comes the fun part! Arm yourself with your drywall knife, peeling strips, and chosen paint remover product, be it a commercial paint stripper or trisodium phosphate solution.
Apply the product to the painted brick according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and layer it as suggested. For most paste strippers, this is about half an inch thick. After application, leave the chemicals to work on the paint for the time listed on the product.
Cleaning It Off
Once the product has sat for long enough, you can remove any outer materials and begin to peel the paint away. It should come off in long strips, revealing the brick underneath.
Use your drywall knife on any portions where stripping product or paint residue remains and scrape it off. If you encounter more stubborn areas of paint, repeat the removal process on those patches until they disappear.
Whether it’s color splashes from a previous project or an entire wall that needs to be stripped back to the original brick, paint can be an annoying obstacle for plenty of homeowners who wonder about how best to remove it. Read on for some of the most common questions asked about brick paint removal.
How Hard Is It To Remove Paint From Brick?
Removing paint from brick can be a challenging process, simply because of how well paint sticks to that type of material. But ultimately, it’s not impossible to do it yourself.
Even beginner DIY enthusiasts can tackle paint residue on brick and be successful in removing it. All you need are the right tools, supplies, and instructions to do so—and a little bit of patience.
Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Brick?
Unfortunately, vinegar alone is not a reliable substance to use when trying to remove paint from brick. While vinegar can be used for plenty of other cleaning and scouring projects, using vinegar on its own will not strip entire layers of paint, especially from porous surfaces like brick.
However, if you have removed most of the surface paint already with a stripper or other chemical compound, then you might have success in using vinegar to remove small amounts of paint residue left behind. Heat vinegar and soak a rag in it, before using it to scrub the bricks or mortar. The vinegar might help loosen and remove flecks of paint that remain.
Does WD-40 Remove Paint From Brick?
Homeowners have had success in using WD-40 to safely remove paint from brick surfaces. Because WD-40 is essentially a degreaser and has a primary ingredient of kerosene, it works to break down the molecules in paint and will eat through it.
However, this method is not recommended for larger surface area treatments like an entire brick wall or patio. Use WD-40 only for small patches of painted brick, or for removing paint residue left behind after using a caustic paint stripper to eliminate most of the paint.
How Do You Get White Paint Off Red Brick?
One of the most common brick faces found on properties or in the home is the classic red brick. But this brick is also easy to paint, and can be smothered with white paint, removing that crimson hue. Thankfully, getting white paint off red brick is also possible.
To strip white paint off your red brick surface without marring the color underneath, you should use the same caustic paint stripper or trisodium phosphate solution that can be applied to any other type of brick or paint. The secret here is to let the product work a little longer before removing it.
Some people recommend a paste or gel paint stripper for white paint on red brick, as they contain less harmful chemicals that could damage the brick’s quality. These are great to use for entire sections of brick that have been painted over.
Alternatively, if you are only faced with white paint splatters on your red brick surface, you can use a gentler method without the need for chemicals. Try using a heat gun by holding it over the splatters until they begin to bubble and look like they’re melting. Then, scrape them away and wash your brick surface to remove paint residue.
How Do You Remove Oil-Based Paint From Brick?
Thankfully, removing oil-based paint from brick involves the same process outlined earlier. Most commercial paint strippers are effective on oil-based paints, so you don’t have to worry about sourcing a different product.
Just keep in mind that oil-based paint can have a more stubborn hold on your brick surfaces, so extra scrubbing or multiple applications of products might be necessary to fully remove all traces of paint.
What Other Ways Can You Remove Paint From Brick?
If you are looking for more options for how to remove paint from brick surfaces, there are a couple of other natural ways to do so. This includes using a baking soda compound or abrasive blasting, both of which require additional supplies and special steps.
Alternatively, if the job seems just a bit too large or complex for a DIY project, you can call your local contracting companies and get quotes on how much it might cost.
Getting a company to remove the paint might also be beneficial if the brick is part of a historic building which could be easily damaged due to its age. Paint removal from historic brick structures can be a job for professionals to tackle.
When faced with an expanse of paint or even just a colorful splatter across your brick surface, it can feel like a frustrating task to remove it.
However, with the correct supplies and instructions, even those who are new to the world of DIY projects can safely and easily remove paint from brick. All you need is some time, tools, and patience to strip away the paint and reveal the original brick hiding underneath!