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Painting over brick has been popular for generations, either to cover old, tired-looking surfaces or to satisfy a particular color preference. If, however, your home’s painted brick - interior or exterior -  no longer suits your taste or if an old paint job is getting in the way of needed repair to the brick and mortar, it may be time to UN-paint those walls. 

Whatever your reasons for removing paint from brick, the task should be carried out by a professional with expertise in dealing with brick and mortar of different ages and conditions. A professional will do an on-site evaluation before committing to any work.

The Condition of Your Bricks 

Old brick and mortar that is visibly spalling, cracking, and deteriorating, is never a good candidate for paint or even paint removal. Existing problems in the façade can be made even worse as you exert stress on the bricks with chemicals or other means to remove paint. Adding paint to deteriorating brick can block the pores in the brick, preventing moisture evaporation. This can lead to even more serious problems. 

If your old (pre-1930)  brick facades are visibly deteriorating, contact an experienced masonry contractor that specializes in historic  residential tuckpointing to make the necessary repairs. It may be possible to repair or replace worn brick as well as the mortar and then apply the correct type of paint for a clean, new look. You may even decide that you like the unpainted brick so well, after a proper tuckpointing, that you end up leaving it exposed.

Professional Methods of Removing Paint from Brick 

A professional masonry contractor has the knowledge and equipment to safely and effectively remove paint from various types of brick. They will typically employ one or more of the following four methods, depending on the brick’s condition, the paint used, and other factors. 

Pressure Washing 

With pressure washing to remove paint from brick, an environmentally-friendly solution is typically used with the high-pressure water to loosen and blast off old paint. This method should not be used on soft or seriously deteriorated brick surfaces. 


With this method, high-pressure air is used to force a stream of sand against the brick’s surface, to blast or sand away the paint. Sand is an abrasive that literally wears away the paint. As with pressure washing, this method cannot be used on soft or seriously deteriorated bricks. 

Torc Cleaning 

Torc cleaning is ideal for buildings built with limestone. The low pressure air and superfine calcium carbonate particles used will remove the stains, dirt and paint from the building. It will avoid causing any damage to softer types of brickwork. This method has been successfully used on many old, historic buildings and homes. 

Acidic Paste 

In this method, a slightly acidic paste is spread over the painted brick and then pulled away. The paste is much easier to manipulate and can reach even the roughest surfaces with many crevices. This method is popular on older buildings that feature intricate brickwork or stonework.

Caring for Your Brick Facades 

Renaissance Development specializes in the repair and restoration of historic brick buildings in Washington DC. This may include the removal of old paint when done in combination with tuckpointing. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm, value, and longevity. If you need help with brick repair or paint removal, contact us for a free site visit and project assessment.

Post by Christina Wilson
2/14/20 12:53 PM