Getting Paint Off Brick

I'm doing some work on a 1960's era house that had a past owner who was a truly careless painter. As a result, there are several places where he got white, oil-based paint on the bricks while painting the trim. What is the best way to clean up these old paint smears off of the bricks, without hurting the bricks too much?
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Hardware stores sell what looks like a very large toothbrush, but with a wooden handle and brass bristles. I think I'd try that first. Although applying heat and trying to peel the paint off, I wonder if this might make matters worse.
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On Tue, 17 Jan 2006 17:54:56 GMT, "Doug Kanter"

WADR I can't tell which one you are saying might make things worse. I think the wire brush can definitely change appearance of brick. Whether it will ever get back to normal, I do not know.
I like your idea of heating it, especially oil based.
I have my own suggestion of course, a scraper that uses a single edged razor blade, but not any scraper works well on brick. (I've tried others). What works well is sort of hard to find, a box cutter with a scraper holder at the other end. Many box cutters, the simple folded aluminum rectangle, are only designed to be cutters. The other end won't hold anything. But some of them have a clip at the non-tapered end that holds the standard single edge razor blade.
It works well on brick because it is possible for the blade to bend at obstructions, rather than break, so the blade can last an hour or two, rather than 5 minutes like the average scraper that holds the blade along i's full width.
I've only used this to take off excess mortar, and excess caullk, never for paint, but it worked very well for those things. Mortar came off in chunks, leaving no residue. Caulk often got sliced through, leaving some caulk in the pores of the brick. Paint would I think be somewhere between these two exttremes.
Maybe just lift up enough to get a hold of the paint with electricians pliers and pull the paint off in a sheet. That will leave the least amount inside the pores of the brick
I also agree with Shoppa - tim.
Also gohabsgo. Power washers are amazing. Don't take the paint off the rest of your house.
And everyone who posted earlier than gohabsgo seems right..
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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I'm wondering if the OP is talking about brick indoors, perhaps around a fireplace, or outside, like the chimney. Outside, who's going to look that closely and notice if a brass brush scuffed the brick a bit? Indoors....it's an issue.
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McCoy wrote:

Smears or drops?
Droplets can usually be peeled off, possibly with help from heat.
Genuine smears, where the paint isn't thick at all, are harder to remove and you might just want to leave them on. Weathering over time will make them less noticable (and also even harder to remove...)
Tim.
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Test anything you try in a place where any FU won't be seen.
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This is a really difficult problem -- especially if the bricks are the rough surfaced kind. I know because that is what I have, and even though our house is frame, where there are bricks, e.g., foundation and chimney, they had been spray painted before we bought the house. I have still not figured out what to do.
If you have only small areas that have paint on them, and if you cannot remove the paint, consider getting a matching latex paint and paint OVER those small areas matching the brick color. That will really help, and if the paint does come off in time, who knows? It might bring the trim paint under it off, too. --Phil
McCoy wrote:

--
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@cc.ysu.edu Youngstown State University
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I would try a pressure washer.
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Thanks Phil, and others. Painting the paint smears is an idea that I hadn't considered. I've tried the power washer and the metal-bristled brushes. The brick surfaces are too rough for using a blade. The smears are not large in any one place, but occur in dozens of places around the exterior of the house. If I can put some work into finding just the right color of paint, then this could work. I doubt it would be visible from a few feet away, especially since the trim smears are mainly up near the level of the eaves. Tenacity and sand paper removed some of the worst smears, but that would take a very long time to complete the whole house.
This project surely shows the value of preparation in a paint job. If this guy had used some masking tape or even hired a painter with steady hands, it would have saved me many hours of time that I will spend fixing the blunders.
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wrote:

I run into this quite often. So far I've had the best results using a gel type paint remover then power washing. Brick is very porous and the paint soaks in a bit. You won't get it all but there should be considerable improvement. The treated area will be lighter for a while but will eventually darken.
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Only a few options here....
Sand blasting... This WILL get the paint off but will make a HUGH mess and if not dont right will damage the brick. (outdoor project anyhow)
Power washing... Not a good idea either with brick. It can pit it very easily destroying the glaze on it. (outdoor too)
Wire brush. If you want a decent workout go with it. Its the cheapest but might make the brick look funny.
Acetone. Really only good for VERY small areas. It'll remove the paint without but make sure to wear gloves!!!
Sherwin Williams did also sell a paint remover for bricks. It might work real well in this case. I dont recall the specific name.
Heat (no not a blow torch) get a heat gun. This will remove the paint and not damage the brick. It'll just take awhile.
Or just paint the whole thing to match!
Tom
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McCoy wrote:

If it isn't a large area, it would probably be far easier to paint over it to disguise it rather than try to remove the paint smears. I have done a lot of painting and paint removal. Our condo has a lot of dripped/smeared/spilled paint on concrete decks. I tried a number of ways to remove them with almost no difference. We used muriatic acid in prep for sealing an area, and even that didn't touch paint drips. Water wash and solvent paint remover - no good except on a few drips that had now gotten smeared down into the concrete.
We had a neighbor who spilled dark brown wood stain on the concrete. I used acryllic craft paint to "faux paint" over them, which hides them quite well. A color the same shade as darker, shaded areas of brick for first coat, applied lightly with stencilling brush, followed by lighter shade of another color in the brick would probably do quite well. Paint gets down in the texture of masonry and really hangs on. If you dab it in lightly and feather it out, it blends quite well (assuming you can match colors fairly closely).
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