How Do I get rid of spray-paint grafitti?
May 11, 2007 5:09 PM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of grafitti spray-painted onto brick?

Some vandals came by a couple of months ago at night and spray painted one of brick walls of our house. How do i get the paint off without harming the brickwork? I've tried varsol but it doesn't penetrate into the rough surface. I've heard of some industrial cleaners but they are pretty expensive ($30/quart). Does anyone know of a cheaper alternative or a home-made concoction that'll do the job?
posted by storybored to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
I hear carburetor cleaner is great for getting graffiti off bricks, but I've never used it myself.
posted by bshort at 5:22 PM on May 11, 2007

Getting paint off bricks really sucks. I sympathize. We used Peel-Away to get paint off our fireplace; I think Peel-Away 7 is the one we used. It is about $24/quart. I don't know of anything cheaper, but if your bricks are smooth, this will work really well. If the bricks are textured it will mostly work, but not quite as well. We got our fireplace from being black paint over turquoise paint (What were they thinking?) down to plain brick with this, and it looks nice.

(The bricks came out looking light because of residue from the turquoise layer of paint. We solved this problem by wiping the tiniest little bit -- just a bit on a paper towel -- of brown water-based stain on each brick. It worked!)
posted by litlnemo at 5:38 PM on May 11, 2007

My husband has been a brickmason for 35 years, and for the last 12 years, has been a foreman on large commercial jobs. He said you might not be able to get all the paint off, but here is his advice:

Part of it depends on what kind of brick you have. If it's a rough brick, it will be more difficult. For a cheap idea, you can try a wire brush (Home Depot or hardware store has them) or a broken piece of concrete block might rub the paint off. Either one will probably rub some of the brick off, though. If the wire brush starts turning the brick black, stop - it will do that to some kinds of brick and then the black is very hard to get off.

If you can spend some more money, rent a power washer from an equipment rental place. If the power washer that you rent has a tank, you can add some borax or baking soda as a mild abrasive that will help get the paint off.

Don't use a 0 (zero) tip - it's for blasting a hole in the brick. Use a tip that will spray out in a fan.

Keep the sprayer tip back from the brick about 16 -24 inches.
Experiment first in a hidden place, like behind a shrub, to see how close you can get to the brick without blowing the mortar out.

If you live in a place that's prone to graffiti, after you've cleaned the paint off and let the brick dry for 48 hours, you can seal the brick so it will be easier to clean if it happens again. Go to a store (not Home Depot or hardware store) that sells waterproofing & caulking materials (NOT something like Thompson's Waterproofing - it's expensive and doesn't work). They will sell some spray-on waterproofing that can be applied with a garden hose. After applying that, graffiti won't stick. Sealer's Choice is a brand that has been recommended to my husband and he put it on the north side of our house to protect it from moisture during freezing weather. They might have a brand in your area that is just as good.

He also suggested that you look for a brick restoration company in your area. If you can find one, they might give you some advice over the phone.
posted by onemorething at 6:10 PM on May 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

It was tough, but I used Goof Off (wear a mask and goggles) with a bristle brush when our house was vandalized.
posted by drinkspiller at 8:56 PM on May 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I will have to experiment.
posted by storybored at 8:05 PM on May 12, 2007

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