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?
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
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.
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
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...)
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
Phil Munro Dept of Electrical & Computer Engin
mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org Youngstown State University
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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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