One hundred year old interior brick chimney: Help me seal its surface?
August 14, 2007 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a good product for stopping an old brick interior chimney from powdering and dusting - and to make the brick look beautiful and shiny?

My wife and I just bought a hundred year old house in Oklahoma City that was renovated inside. One of the features that was chosen as a showcase was an interior brick chimney that rises through the middle of the entire house, on both floors. It's a 2' X 2' chimney, obviously used for heating at some point, with a round hole on each floor where some sort of directional device for heat was placed. It's actually quite a nice architectural feature - with the exception of the fact that the hundred year old red brick powders and crumbles a little when you touch it, and it makes a dusty mess on the floor. It doesn't crumble in huge chunks or anything, and the mortar is still hard, but it is a mess when it powders on the floor.

I have done some research on masonry sealant and that type of product - I'm looking to add some sort of finish to this brick chimney to stop the crumbling and powdering/dusting, and to add a nice medium shine to it. My first instinct (since I am well versed in scenic painting and general construction/paint and finish types) would be to add some sort of clear polycrylic to it. Is there a product that would give the effects and solutions that I desire to this chimney? Once this process is completed, I know that it will look stellar - I just need help finding the right product.

So far, I have found this UGL product, this Quikrete product, which actually might give too much of a shine, and this Behr product. Should I consider some sort of Poly Acrylic product, or a urethane product? Is there something that I am completely missing here?

Thanks in advance!
posted by jimmyhutch to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
my contractors used polyurethane and it works great and looks great.
the other thing they did, if you haven't moved in yet, is used a blower of some sort to blow all the dust off of there first.
posted by alkupe at 6:07 PM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: here's some pictures of the chimney, first floor:

Photo #1
Photo #2
posted by jimmyhutch at 6:49 PM on August 14, 2007

Response by poster: hey alkupe, how'd they apply the Poly? A brush?

This is a general addendum to this question in total - along with the product, what's the best method to apply? I don't have a sprayer available to me, but I can get brushes and rollers.
posted by jimmyhutch at 6:51 PM on August 14, 2007

I have had great success using evaporated milk in a spray bottle . Believe it or not it seals the bricks, is very water resistant and transparent, when it gets into the pores the milk turns to casein, very durable easy and inexpensive.
posted by hortense at 7:32 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Would this be spalling? Best way to fix it is replace the bricks.
posted by plinth at 8:43 PM on August 14, 2007

Before you get too far, read the Brick Industry technical notes on painting and sealing brick.
BTW, Good guidelines for future use when considering any brick questions are available through their tech notes. I'm not a brick industry person, salesperson, etc. but I use their notes often, and have found them to be quite informative.
posted by mightshould at 5:05 AM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

You may want to fix the problem at the source. The main reason why the brick fails is that it is contact with weather. Have a liner placed inside the chimney and put a cover on the top.
posted by JJ86 at 5:58 AM on August 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: research tells me that an important detail would be that the chimney is no longer in use; it's completely decorative at this point. Is this important in diagnosing and solving the problem?
posted by jimmyhutch at 11:48 AM on August 15, 2007

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