Old Brick

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.
TIA
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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.

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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, etc. Find a test area to try out some coatings. Linseed oil, for instance, with a light coating probably won't have any gloss (depending on the porosity of the brick). I'm partial to the light application of linseed oil, because it will allow water vapor to escape. If you have a water tight coating, you may get little lime blooms all over the place after a couple of years.
hth bill

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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 mastic.
bill a mentioned in passing :

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