how to remove paint from brick

How to Remove Paint From Brick Easily In Six Steps

Updated on

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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Removing paint from a brick wall can be challenging due to the porous surface. However, with a detailed guide like this, you can easily learn how to remove paint from brick.

If you have seen signs that it's time to repaint your house and need to work on it, don't worry. If you prefer to start by removing the old paint, this guide is for you.

You will also need materials and equipment to get the job done well. So let's start and follow these steps to remove paint from that brick wall that's stressing you.

Before starting the job, you must remember this when removing paint from interior brick walls. The best method is to apply a non-caustic paint stripper instead of solvent-based ones.

Solvent-based paint strippers are flammable and more powerful. This is because the stripper is designed to remove many finishes. Solvent-based stripper also strips away thicker paint faster. It also works without leaving stains on the brick surface or damaging the brick.

Avoid pressure washing and sandblasting when removing paint from interior brick. The two methods can chip or pit the brick wall beyond repair.

When using a paint stripper, ensure that it does not contain harsh ingredients like methylene chloride (DCM) or N-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP). In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the use of these products to minimize emissions.

If you are working on vertical surfaces like walls and fireplaces, especially if you are remodeling your home, ensure you purchase a gel-based paint stripper. A good gel stripper will stick better to a vertical surface and be applied in thick coats.

Let us now go deeper and understand how to remove paint from brick.

How to Remove Paint From A Brick

What You Will Need

  • Paint stripper
  • Painter's tape
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Lead paint test kit
  • TSP
  • Putty knife
  • Wire brush
  • Paintbrush
  • A bucket
  • Kitchen gloves
  • Plastic gloves


Step One: Test the Paint

Lead is dangerous, and you must test the paint for any traces. So, using the lead paint test kit, slice a piece of the paint and send it to the lab.

Image: House Grail

The paint will be tested for lead. If it tests negative, proceed with the process. However, if there is lead in the paint, you will have to leave the work for a lead abatement contractor. This is because lead is harmful and should only be handled by professionals.

Next, test the brick with your paint stripper; choose about 2-3 bricks in a non-focal area. Apply a small amount of the stripper to your test area, then cover it with plastic sheeting.

Wait for half an hour and remove the sheeting. If it removes the paint well, you are good to go. However, if the paint doesn't come off, you may need to change the brand.

Step Two: Prepare the Area

Before you apply the stripper, wash the brick thoroughly to remove all dirt. Then, use a dripping wet rag to wash the brick.


Image: House painting Guide

If you are outdoors and have a garden hose, use it instead. You can use a wire brush or a metal putty knife to lightly scrap your brick. Though it is not a must that you wash the brick, cleaning it first makes work much easier.

Once your brick is clean, let it dry for a minimum of 12 hours. Next, place a drop cloth below the area. It will catch paint debris that falls off.

You can even use plastic sheeting to catch the debris. Ensure you extend the sheeting on the floor by at least six feet and by three feet on the walls.

If other items nearby cannot be removed, ensure you cover them well for protection. You can still use drop cloths to do this.

Step Three: Put on Your Protective Gear

Before you start working with chemicals, you'll need to wear protective gear. They ensure you are covered so you don't inhale or touch any harsh substances.

Image: Real Simple

Some chemicals can be harmful and react with your skin. Others cause dizziness and nausea when inhaled. This is the minimum of the protective gear you'll need;

  • Respirator or facemask
  • Work gloves
  • Goggles
  • Long-sleeved shirt

Step Four: Prepare the Paint Stripping Solution

You will need to prepare the paint stripping solution, also known as Trisodium Phosphate Solution (TSP). To do this, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Image: Real Milk Paint

Normally, you'd need to mix one gallon of warm water with half a cup of stripper. Next, stir using a stick until all the solution has dissolved. Ensure you use a stick that you won't mind disposing off.

Step Five: Apply the Stripper

Next, apply the paint stripper onto the brick. Finally, use a putty knife to scoop and smear the paint stripper.


Apply a thick layer to ensure it doesn't dry up quickly. Thin layers are prone to drying very fast.

The stripper should not dry before you cover it with your sheeting, so work fast enough. It would be better to cut your sheeting into three square sections to work more conveniently.

Step Six: Scrape off the Paint

The plastic sheeting should b on the brick for about 30 minutes. After that, use the putty knife to test the paint o see its degree of solidity.

The paint should be thick and goopy, soft from the top to the surface of the brick. It also needs to be easily removable with the putty knife.

Image: Pepper's Home and Garden

Gently and carefully pull the plastic sheeting to remove it. The paint stripper should be coming off, as well as the paint. This should only leave exposed brick.

If a little stubborn paint is stuck on the brick, you can use your putty knife or a paint scraper to scrape it off. You will have to repeat the process on such brick surfaces if there are persistent areas.

If you plan to repaint the wall, let it dry completely before proceeding. Follow these steps to professionally paint your walls.

Methods to Avoid When Removing Paint From Brick

Besides a paint stripper, other methods are used to remove paint from brick. However, not all methods are safe. Some should be avoided as they can damage the brick in different ways.

Let us look at some paint removal methods to avoid.

a) Heavy-Duty Sanding

Brick and mortar can be damaged by power washing, sandblasting, and the use of powered sanding tools to remove paint residue. In most cases, using a sander to remove tough paint from cracks and mortar lines damages brick. Although your brick will be damaged, you might be able to remove the paint.

b) Scraping Aggressively

Avoid scraping paint off bricks without first using a paint stripper solution. Attempting to remove paint off bricks can damage mortar, gouge bricks, and even cause fractured bricks in your wall.

Additionally, it won't effectively remove tough paint from the bricks and porous mortar surfaces. Hold off on scraping until after the paint remover has been applied and has had time to work.

c) Power Washing or Sandblasting

Power washing and sandblasting both have the power to obliterate old mortar, impair the beauty of your bricks, and seriously damage a brick wall.

The brick and mortar beneath may get discolored when you remove the paint using high-pressure water or sand. This will make the brick uneven when you finish removing the paint.

Frequently Asked Questions On How To Remove Paint From Brick

1. When should you call a professional to remove paint from the brick?

You can call a professional if you do not know which method to use when removing paint. Also, if you feel the brick corrosion and damage are too much, get a professional to do the job. They know how to remove paint without damaging the brick.

2. How should the weather be when removing paint from brick?

Removing paint from brick requires high temperatures. So, before you start the job, ensure you look at the forecast and the month in which you are in. The temperatures must be above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for at least a month. If a frost occurs before your brick dries completely, you will likely face serious brick deterioration.

Featured Image: The Painter

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About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.
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