Brick Cleaning

So before I started on my brick cleaning adventure (~800 sq. ft. of painted brick), I did as much research as I could. Sandblasting was quickly ruled out. I've seen the long-term damage it can cause with my own eyes. Ultimately, I settled on using the masonry stripper/power washer combination.
Had I known that there would be 60-80 years of paint underneath that shiny top coat, I might have rethought the whole thing (okay, nahh I would have done it anyway). Actually, the area that I originally used as a test was only about 2 coats deep and it was the same color. The "Techinicolor Nightmare" didn't make itself apparent until I was too far in to turn back.
Three 5Gal. buckets of Prosoco Heavy Duty Stripper and 1 5Gal. bucket of Prosoco Fast-Acting Stripper (Methylene Chloride) later, I've gotten a lot of paint off. Quite a lot, in fact (the better part of 6 different colors in some areas - this is an old corner commercial building). Unfortunately, not all a lot. The remaining patches of paint are *ON THERE*. I've gotten a bit more abrasive than I'd like to have with the pressure washer but still the remaining paint persists. Multiple applications of methylene chloride don't seem to phase it. There is too much left to manually scrape off. It's so well bonded to the brick face that I'd likely do quite a bit of damage with manual abrasion (scraper) anyway.
Suggestions? I'm open to just about anything at this point. I've even considered calling it a loss and heading down to the local friendly sandblaster rental shop. I hope it doesn't come to that but if that's what I have to do....
P.S. Losing mortar is not an issue...the whole thing needs pointing anyway.
-BB
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Sherwin Williams carries or will order Detritch stone cleaning products. Probably the best in the country for all types of brick and stone restoration products.
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Chemical strippers will never get all the paint out of little pours in the brick. I'm not sure sandblasting will either. If you are not worried about re-pointing then I would think sandblasting would be the way to go. Sounds like you invested a lot of $$$ already in strippers and time.
Curious - What type of long term problems have you seen by sandblasting?

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Well, for starters, two sections of the wall on the building in question had been sandblasted 20-30 years ago during the last 'renovation'. Both sections of wall now need to be rebuilt as they've sustained enough water damage that they crumble to the touch. Though I'm not a mason or scientist, I'm sure that the amount of degradation after sandblasting the hard face off of brick depends largely on the composition of the brick in question. The bricks I'm dealing with are about 120 years old.
Many other homes in the neighborhood have gone the sandblasting route and I can spot their pitted rough surface from half a block away. To the untrained eye, the brick looks as though it's been nicely cleaned & maintained. Unfortunately, after a good rain I can see the water that those bricks absorb and I know that they'll have some major problems to deal with 20 years out.
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Thats what I figured. It would be especially bad if you have a freeze thaw cycle. If souther you would be better off. How about follow up with a sealer?

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Get some sand mixed with brick-red paint (two shades, not well mixed), and paint the damn things again, Then grind out a little bit of the grout, and re-point.

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