Paint removal can certainly be one tough job. Caustic chemicals, dangerous fumes and gloppy paint residues can make this a job best left to the professionals. But when paint removal is required on a brick surface, knowledge, specialized care and the right tools (and materials) can make all of the difference between the right painting contractor and the wrong one.
Because brick and mortar surfaces have countless nooks and crannies that paint can bond with easily, paint on brick must be removed using specific techniques. Paint not only has to be completely removed from the surface of both the brick and the mortar but the removal has to be done without damaging the surface of either.
Why Painted Brick can be More Than Just Ugly
Brick surfaces that have been painted not only look bad, they can also cause accelerated decay in the mortar joints when moisture gets trapped between the paint, the brick and the mortar. Because a brick’s exterior is so porous and mortar joints are very delicate to specific stresses, it makes removing paint a very tough project to perform without damaging the exterior of say, a brick chimney. This makes it a definite no-no for DIY homeowners who are looking to save a few bucks and do the work themselves.
Finding the Right Paint Removal Specialist
Getting your paint removed without damaging the brick and mortar can be tough unless you have the right experience, tools and materials to get the job done safely and correctly. It takes more than just picking a painting contractor out of the phonebook. Find the right painting contractor to remove your painted chimney or other brick surface by hiring a painting contractor who specializes in brick paint removal and performs the following steps:
Prepping the Work Area
Paint removal is easy—cleaning up the mess is the tough part. To prevent paint pieces from going all over the ground near your brick wall or chimney, plenty of drop cloths and plastic protection is necessary to keep peeled paint chips and other debris in one easy to clean place. A painting contractor should tape off and quarantine any areas you don’t want paint removed from (like adjacent siding) with plastic drop cloths and painters tape. Prior to applying the paint removal materials, workers will remove any loose or flaking paint carefully using a putty knife or scraper.
Applying the Paint Remover
There are numerous materials and products that remove paint from brick. The best method for removing paint from a brick chimney or façade is by using an adhesive backed paint removing compound. These sheets are applied directly to the face of the brick, similar to papier-mâché.
When the paint remover comes into contact with the painted brick, it instantly creates a chemical reaction within the paint to release its tight bond to the brick, without damaging the brick, and mortar’s delicate surface in the process. The adhesive backed paint removal sheets cover the entire brick surface and are layered one over the other. These are allowed to sit on the brick face for 24 hours so that is can cure. Once dry and solidified, the materials are simply flaked off using a putty knife. A steel brush is used to remove any stubborn pieces still clinging to the brick.
Once the majority of the paint has been removed by hand, the mess can then be safely disposed of. Now the brick surface can be washed using a power washer to help provide a thorough cleaning. This also removes any leftover paint residue. While the majority of the paint is safely gone, some smaller pieces may remain and must be safely washed away using a steady stream of water and a mild nontoxic detergent. After the surface of the brick is allowed to dry for at least three days, repairs can be made to any damaged brick and/or to any crumbling mortar joints in need of repointing.
All images via Olger Fallas Painting.