Removing Paint from Brick

I'm a new listener going through all the podcasts.  I just bought a house built in 1921 and there are few things I want to change.  The previous owners painted the front entryway brick white. The only other brick on the house is the chimney. The chimney is red brick so I assume underneath the entryway paint is red brick and I would like to return it to the original state. I have read about solutions that do this but I want to know what you think. Thanks!  sparkys1stp 11-6-7 11:03am

Some would wonder why anyone would ever paint brick, but before you commit to removing yours, you should consider the possible reasons.  That brick may have been damaged or discolored from wear and tear or repair projects completed over the years that left unmatched mortar joints or bricks.

If you still wish to move forward, the most popular paint removal options are pressure washing and sand blasting.  Unfortunately, these are the most destructive and I don't recommend them.  Both can dig into the brick surfaces and mortar and leave them permanently damaged.  Plus, grinding away portions of the hard exterior surface will also leave the brick more susceptible to moisture and the resulting frost damage. 

The best option is a peel away chemical stripper.  It is a slow and tedious process, but it will do the job.  Before you commit to stripping the entire area, try it out on a small area to get a sense of how well it works and what the brick may look like underneath.  If it turns out to be more work that you counted on or that the brick isn't what you expected, you can always opt to repaint!

Reaching Tom:  If you have a home improvement question or comment on this topic, please post it below.  For answers to other home improvement questions, please email Tom at tomsmoneypit@aol.com so your question can be used in future blog entries, or search Tom's home improvement articles at moneypit.com.

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