I have an old brick chimney that I uncovered while renovating my
kitchen, and I would like to make it look nice. The bricks are in good shape
but are dusty and poorly mortared (drips and smears of mortar on the brick).
My first thought was to wire brush them, remortar, and then apply a sealer,
but I wondered if there was a better thing to do to retain some of the
"quaintness" of old brick.
I have waterproofed brick using vegatable oil and a paint brush (but that
was outside the home). The oil brings out any color in the brick, making it
much more attractive. The oil soaks into the brick, preventing water
penetration (for 3 years or so). Muratic acid used before the oil, will
remove stubborn stains. Sometimes just the oil and a wire brush has cleaned
the brick sufficiently for me. If you clean the brick using any water based
product, ensure it has dried before attempting to use oil or an oil based
product. Talk to a professional mason regarding how strong a dilution to
use if you clean with muratic acid. Also it is ACID, so follow proper
safety rules to prevent splashing to the eyes or skin.
A wire brushs and metal scrapers are likely to leave abrasions and scars,
especially with soft older brick.
Try a test area with dilute muriatic and a stiff nylon scrub brush. The
right dilution will eat away the surface mortar
or plaster fairly quickly. You can also use the sharp corner of a small
piece of oak as a scaper to help with heavier deposits.
Water rinse when finished.
When you have it clean enough, let it thoroughly dry (at least a few days)
and do subsequent coating in a dry weather pattern.
You can seal it with lots of things, polyurethane, shellac, linseed oil,
Find a test area to try out some coatings. Linseed oil, for instance, with
coating probably won't have any gloss (depending on the porosity of the
I'm partial to the light application of linseed oil, because it will allow
to escape. If you have a water tight coating, you may get little lime
blooms all over
the place after a couple of years.
Thanks Bill, I will watch out for the wire brushing... I hadn't thought
about it scratching. I will expose the whole cimney today and then I can
really see what I am faced with. Please see my other question about Black
bill a mentioned in passing :
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