Removing paint from a brick house

Written by virginia franco
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Removing paint from a brick house
If your paint is peeling or dirty, reverting to unpainted brick improves the aesthetic appeal of your home. (Getty Images)

People have been painting brick homes for centuries as a way to conceal dirt and imperfections, and to seal the brick prior to the advent of vinyl siding. If the brick underneath the paint appears to be in good shape, you can remove the paint. If the brick appears broken or cracked in many places, then removing the paint can cause the brick further damage.

Be sure to remove any paint well in advance of cold weather when temperatures will likely drop below freezing. This will allow plenty of time for any moisture to evaporate from the bricks so that they don't freeze and consequently break.

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Ideal paint removal conditions

People have been painting brick homes for centuries as a way to conceal dirt and imperfections, and to seal the brick prior to the advent of vinyl siding. If the brick underneath the paint appears to be in good shape, you can remove the paint. If the brick appears broken or cracked in many places, then removing the paint can cause the brick further damage.

Be sure to remove any paint well in advance of cold weather when temperatures will likely drop below freezing. This will allow plenty of time for any moisture to evaporate from the bricks so that they don't freeze and consequently break.

Strip and peel paint removal method

Removing paint safely from brick is tedious. To add one more complication, there are environmental concerns because paint prior to the 1970s contained lead. Improper removal of it can cause the lead to disperse dangerously into the air.

Purchase an exterior paint remover designed for lead-based paint. Gel or pastes are usually the most gentle on old bricks. Use a roller to apply the remover over the brick and cover it with strips of fabric specifically designed for this process. When the paint is soft to the touch you can peel off the fabric and the paint should come with it. You will need to repeat this process across the entire brick veneer.

Use a stiff bristle brush to gently scrub any paint remnants or residue. Rinse it with a hose.

High pressure methods cause damage

While it is quicker and more efficient to sandblast or pressure wash the paint right off of the brick, these processes will likely damage the surface of the brick.

When a brick's surface is damaged, it leaves the inner part vulnerable to erosion. Exposure to the elements can result in moisture and freeze damage. Your brick will deteriorate at a faster pace, at which point you will need to have it repaired.

The older the brick, the more likely that damage will occur from these harsh paint removal techniques.

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