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Remove paint from brick fireplace?
August 16, 2006 10:17 AM   Subscribe

How do you remove paint from a brick fireplace?

Previous owner (a "flipper" actually) of our house painted the red brick fireplace bright white. I want to remove the paint, but I've heard this is really difficult to do.

I know that a common solution is to sandblast the paint away, but I wanted to know if there were any other alternatives that work. (Plus I've heard that the downside of sand blasting is that it can sometimes damage the brick itself.)

Any suggestions?
posted by jca to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
UGH! Good question. I'm looking for an answer to this as well. Yesterday I saw this thread at Apartment Therapy about a product called Peel Away.

Some of the comments said they used it on a fireplace. It's suppose to not smell so much and be easy to use. Haven't tried it myself.
posted by dog food sugar at 10:24 AM on August 16, 2006


The problem is that anything short of taking off a little bit of brick (i.e., sandblasting) isn't ever going to get all the paint off. You can't imagine the little nooks and crannies the paint has gotten into.
posted by deadfather at 10:25 AM on August 16, 2006


The same way you remove paint from anything else? Paint stripping chemicals, and/or a heat gun, ought to work. I'd try the heat gun - you can apply lots of heat since the underlying surface won't burn. Sand blasting will certainly work if those fail - that's an additional option available for brick surfaces.

Be prepared to spend a good deal of time with a toothbrush getting at the little bits in crevices.
posted by jellicle at 10:33 AM on August 16, 2006


According to the brochure I've been saving in case I ever get motivated to strip paint from my fireplace.... you'd want Peel Away 8. The company seems to welcome questions: (212) 869-6350.
posted by wryly at 10:37 AM on August 16, 2006


you can apply lots of heat since the underlying surface won't burn

I don't have any experience heat-gunning brick, but I would be a little worried (test on some concealed brick somewhere?) that focused heat might crack or spall the brick, especially if there is any moisture at all in the brick.
posted by misterbrandt at 11:00 AM on August 16, 2006


PeelAway works really well for brick. No need to get the superduper architectural blend, Peelaway 1 should work just fine.
posted by electroboy at 11:04 AM on August 16, 2006


Just a tip, sandblasting brick degrades it badly. In fact, most any sandblasting the exterior of a brick building will disqualify your structure from ever being on the National Register.
posted by stormygrey at 11:27 AM on August 16, 2006


I've had really good luck with heat guns. Some stripping agents can be very nasty (though I dont' know about the one wryly suggests). Whichever way you go, get a respirator.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:50 AM on August 16, 2006


A heat gun does do a great job, though you may need an ice pick to get the paint out of the nooks and crannies. If you do use a heat gun, don't rest it on the ground business end pointing up, then lean over to grab a tool, lifting your leg mindlessly for balance, and then let your leg lower onto the mouth of the heat gun. Just sayin'.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 12:27 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Used Peel Away plenty of times in remodelling. Anyway, call the company and they will send you free samples after you consult with them on which Peel Away. Peel Away has some problems with milk paint but if it is the standard latex things should work just fine. If you want to be cheap there are other available products that work great on latex but crappy on old turn of the century paint.

If you do not have enough of the special paper to cover all your surfaces a combination of damp paper towels and saran wrap was a good work around for me. Just be sure to invest in good scraper and you may need a toothbrush for the finer crannies.

Peel Away 1 & 7 is available in big box stores usually and can be found in stores that serve professionals as well.
posted by jadepearl at 12:35 PM on August 16, 2006


(heat gun anecdotes filter) :)
posted by jca at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2006


Also, am I the only one that thinks painting fireplaces is a bad idea in general?
posted by jca at 12:37 PM on August 16, 2006


My former roommate rented a large angle grinder with a wire brush and went crazy all over her painted brick warehouse walls. Eventually the upstairs neighbors complained about the dust and noise, but in the parts she got done first (a very large wall area) the brick (which is not 100% paint-free) looks fan-tastic. I'm sure the brick was not completely undamaged, if that is a concern.
posted by aubilenon at 12:51 PM on August 16, 2006


Be especially careful if your brick is older. Modern brick is fairly homogenous, but older brick has a hard surface but is fairly soft underneath. I'd recommend Peelaway or the heat gun, but do the heat gun test on a small area first.
posted by electroboy at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2006


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