Removing Paint From Brick

Removing paint from brick is the process of removing subsequent layers of paint, up to the surface of the brick. Various methods are used to remove paint from bricks, but only a few can be called brick restoration.

sj pointer brick restoration tuckpointing progress

By S.J. POINTER

“Most brick was never intended to be painted”

The most effective way to renew the appearance of the facade is to paint it. While this solution brings benefits in the form of free choice of colour, low cost of implementation, easy and quick application, it should never be used directly on bricks. Eventually, this leads to bricks erosion. This is due to the fact that exterior paints must be resistant to weather conditions. The exterior paint creates an airtight layer. It would seem that painting bricks will create a protective barrier and will have a beneficial effect on bricks durability. Nothing could be more wrong. Bricks are a “breathable” material that reacts to prevailing conditions. They absorb moisture during rain, but also quickly get rid of it in natural processes. Painted bricks are deprived of breathing. The moisture accumulated in them causes their erosion.

removing paint from brick reveal erosion
Revealed brick erosion under removed paint

“When water seeps in through the mortar, it also seeps into the brick through the inside, and since the bulk of the surface area is blocked, the moisture cannot evaporate off.”

https://www.progressive.com/lifelanes/household/painting-brick/

You can learn more about the disadvantages of painted bricks, from a blog of architectural conservator specialising in masonry conservation and material analysis “Why we shouldn’t paint brick?”

Methods of removing paint from brick

Sandblasting brick paint removal

Sandblasting is often used when removing paint from bricks. It is an effective but harmful method. After peeling the last layer of paint, a very large part of the layer of brick is also removed. In addition, the surface of the sandblasted brick is porous, uneven and has an unnatural appearance of a sponge. As a result, such bricks absorb more water from the environment. Consequently, the balance in the natural moisture circulation cycle is disturbed. Such bricks retain more moisture, which reduces their thermal performance and can cause damp inside the building.

“Bricks that have been sandblasted or scarified have lost their protective fire skin and are more susceptible to moisture infiltration.”

http://www.masonryofdenver.com/2014/08/shouldnt-paint-brick/

Chemical removing paint from brick

Another way to remove paint from bricks is to use chemicals. Chemicals react with the paint to dissolve it. It is a very time-consuming, expensive and dangerous for the environment process. The chemical must be applied to the paint layer by layer and removed in subsequent stages with each layer, using high-pressure washers or wire brushes. After reaching the last layer, both high pressure and brushes damages layer of the brick. However, this is not as drastic damage as in the case of sandblasting.

Steam use for removing paint from brick

Correctly carried out the process of removing paint from bricks, removes just a paint, without affecting the surface of the brick in any way. Only then such a process can be called restoration – restoring bricks to the state from before painting. For non-invasive paint removal from bricks, steam paint removal is ideal. Only the temperature sufficient to dissolve the paint and remove it layer by layer is used. This process is time-consuming, but it is completely safe for bricks and the environment. Neither pressure nor toxic chemicals are used. This paint removal method is recommended and used by us – S.J. Pointer – Top Quality Brick Pointing & Restoration.

doff steam brick paint removal restoration london
Steam used for removing paint from brick

What if there was the erosion of bricks?

Very often, after removing paint from bricks, it turns out that some of the bricks have been damaged by erosion. Such bricks are very brittle, lose their volume, and thus, resistance to weight. In the renovation process, such bricks should be replaced with new restoration bricks of the same shape and colour.

brickwork after removing paint from brick restoration london clapham
Shown at the top of the page eroded bricks, after replacement and lime mortar pointing restoration

Removing paint from bricks and restoring the property to the original state is extremely important not only from the appearance point of view but above all to maintain structural stability and safety.

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