For every homeowner who wants to learn how to paint brick, there’s another who wants to know how to remove paint from brick. If you’re in the latter group, we get it. Brick—be it in a fireplace, front stoop, or exposed brick wall—has a whole lot of character. Why cover that up with paint?
So if you have a painted brick surface you think would look better bare, rest assured—it’s entirely possible to strip off that paint. Or, if you like the look of painted brick but it’s flaking or crying out for a new color, you’ll want to remove the original paint before applying a new layer on top.
But removing paint from brick is not like removing paint from surfaces like wood. Here are the specific steps to do this DIY project right.
Materials you’ll need to remove paint from brick
- Paint stripper (check the label to find a type specifically made for brick)
- Laminated paint removal strips
- A stiff scrub brush (opt for nylon bristles rather than wire)
- Rubber gloves
- Eye protection
How to remove paint from brick
Step 1: Chemical paint stripper does pretty much what the name implies. But these concoctions can do some deep damage, so Chuck Reger, franchise consultant for Five Star Painting, a Neighborly company based in Waco, TX, always recommends buying a stripper made specifically for brick, and doing a quick test on a small area of the brick. Cover your hands with your rubber gloves, don eye protection, and use your paintbrush to cover a small section with stripper.
“Once the stripper is on the surface for at least 10 minutes, scrub with a stiff brush, and rinse with water to see if the results are sufficient,” Reger advises. If the paint has been stripped away, but the brick beneath wasn’t harmed in the process, you’re good to go.
Step 2: Working from top to bottom, begin brushing the stripper on your painted area in horizontal strokes. On a hot day, Reger suggests wetting the brick down with wet sponges so the stripper doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Step 3: Typically, stripper should be left to sit for at least 10 minutes, Reger says, but check the label to see how long the manufacturer recommends. Once it’s time, remove the paint and stripper mixture by wiping them away with damp rags or a stiff scrub brush. If you’re outside, you can use a power washer, working through small sections at a time. You may need to repeat the process with stripping and washing until the paint is completely removed.
Step 4: Once the paint is gone, you won’t need to do anything special to protect the brick, Reger says. “But keep in mind that the brick should dry completely before you repaint or if there’s any chance of a freeze, which could cause damage.”