Strip Paint Off a Brick Fireplace
LESLIE: Alright, our next caller is a listener via podcast. Patrick, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?
PATRICK: Hi, my wife and I just bought a 1921 bungalow with a floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace which had about …
PATRICK: … 15 layers of paint on it.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
PATRICK: So we considered our options and because we didn’t have to move in for about five weeks we decided to seal the room off and then send in a sandblaster.
PATRICK: And – which got off like 95 percent of the paint.
PATRICK: And I guess the questions I have are two. One is what to do with the rest of the paint. There’s some like flecks – because it’s really, really coarse, rough brick. And someone had suggested using a product called Peel Away. I’m wondering if you guys are familiar with that.
TOM: It sounds like one of the paint stripper products that you apply and then peel off. I’m not sure how well that’s going to work. If you’ve been through a …
LESLIE: Especially on a coarse surface. It sounds like something that would work better on a smooth surface …
LESLIE: … where it’s got an opportunity to grab something that might be raised above the rest of the surface. But if you’re dealing with an uneven surface and you go to rub almost like a sticker on top of it, it’s not going to know what to grab.
TOM: And also, if you’ve already sandblasted this, I can’t imagine that any chemical strippers going to do much better off a job. Is there a way – does what left looks so bad that you can’t sort of like go with that as the look?
PATRICK: You know, actually I kind of like it. It’s – no, it looks fine, I think. It’s just pretty inconsistent like on the sides of the fireplace. I think, because of the angle the sandblaster couldn’t really get at it as well. So, it’s just a question I have to kind of make it more consistent. But he also …
LESLIE: I’m sorry. Is it a remnant of sort of like a white fleck?
LESLIE: You can easily – and I know this would take a little bit of artistic courage – but if you take some white paint and mix it with a little bit of water just so it’s not full consistency and then maybe dip your brush and then flick the edge – you know, run your finger over it as you would a toothbrush – to spray water, you might be able to mimic that fleck. And I do – you know, I hate the look of painted brick but I really enjoy it when it has that whitewash-y effect to it that looks really old and interesting. And it does sort of break up that red brick, you know, monotone-ness that you might get if it were fully clean.
PATRICK: Oh, that’s a great idea. One other question.
PATRICK: The sandblaster kind of – some of the grout between the brick is pretty much all gone and some of it’s still there. And I’m wondering if it – is it a safety problem to have – some of the exterior bricks are without any mortar between them.
TOM: Depends on how much mortar has been pulled out. I was going to tell you that that’s one of the downsides of sandblasting and sometimes can do more damage than it’s worth. But if you’ve lost the mortar to the point where the bricks are loose then it should be repointed. If just a little bit of mortar is gone then you’re probably OK.
PATRICK: Well, thanks very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.