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Paint Removal From Brick

How do you remove paint from brick?

There are many different applications that can be used to remove paint from brick. These include:

Pressure washing

This form of cleaning is often effective especially when applying superheated water with pressure. Prior chemical application onto the old paint and left to penetrate assists significantly to break down the polymers* which soften the paint for an easier removal from the substrate brick.

*A polymer coating is a thin layered coating or paint made with polymers that provide superior adherence and protection from corrosion. A polymer is a molecule made by joining together many small molecules called monomers that are made up of a large number of similar units. This can include synthetic organic materials like resins and plastics.

Sandblasting

This is a very effective process that works in a similar way to pressure washing. There are fine particles of sand which are like a ‘fluid abrasion’, removing the paint from the walls in a seamless movement. While sand is inert and completely harmless normally, you need to be careful when it is moving at such fast speeds. This type of work needs to be left to those with experience and knowledge as in the wrong hands this type of application can be destructive to delicate surfaces.

TORC Cleaning

The TORC System is a complete stone cleaning system designed and sold exclusively by Stonehealth. It’s an evolution of the Jos system that was first introduced to the market over 20 years ago. The TORC system features a modulised nozzle to create a gentle swirling vortex, using low volumes of water, fine inert granulate and air to produce a sensitive and efficient method of cleaning masonry.

Chemical Cleaning

There are many different products sold for paint removal today. Some work and many do not work very well. Some are safer to use than others. Some are applied as a thick paste that is stippled on rather than painted and others are applied using a brushing movement and then covered over with a polyurethane sheet. Some products require full PPE like respiratory devises and fully covered skin such as gauntlets and face masks due to harmful, colourless vapour fumes that are odourless and are considered carcinogenic

Why can’t I just sandblast the paint off?

Air-abrasive systems, in their various wet or dry, high or low pressure forms, regardless of the type of abrasive, cannot distinguish between the coating to be removed and the substrate.

Coatings are also often harder or more resistant to the propelled abrasive than the substrate which is to be exposed, so that once the abrasive penetrates a small area of the paint, it rapidly erodes the substrate before removing adjacent areas of paint. Brickwork looking like dried sponge, carved stonework with its detail all but obliterated and woodwork with the appearance of sea-eroded driftwood are common examples of air-abrasive systems having provided a quick and easy but otherwise unsatisfactory solution.

Chemical products work by softening or dissolving the paint or coating so it can be washed off. This ensures no damage to the substrate. Being a wet process it is also a safe way of removing lead based paint

How long do the paint strippers take to work?

This is dependent on the thickness of the paint and / or the quantity of coating layer and which product is used. Some of the products need only be left on for 90 minutes whereas others benefit from being left overnight or longer such as 48 hours.

Will Chemical products damage other surfaces?

We always recommend masking any areas you are not working on with polythene. However check individual product usage data sheets for information relevant to each product you were to purchase or the professional contractor should already know this.

Ensure that the contractor checks for any adverse reaction with particular substrates, surfaces and materials that could come into contact with the products before proceeding.

Do I need a pressure washer?

Whilst a hot water pressure washer is undoubtedly the quickest and easiest way to wash off the residue, a cold water pressure washer may yield equally satisfactory results. If a pressure washer is not practical or available, then use a bucket of water, a scrubbing brush, Scotchbrite or similar and a sponge (hot soapy water for solvent-based strippers, warm water, not soapy, for alkali-based strippers). This will usually give good results on reasonably smooth substrates, but be aware that a jet of water is much more effective than the bristles of a brush for removing the dissolved paint from rough or porous surfaces.

There are a number of ways to remove paint from brick and so consideration and planning are required to assess the type of brick substrate; where it is situated (indoors or outdoors). This would be to concern you with vapour, fumes (respiratory health risks), good ventilation, and water penetration into electrical systems (Electrocution health risks or water damage) or other sensitive surroundings that could be affected from water staining. There are pressure-washer/vacuum cleaner attachments that make it possible to use a pressure-washer in areas where the spray and runoff from a normal pressure-washer lance would be unacceptable.

An Example of Paint Removal from Brick

Here is an example (Before and After Photos) where the customer who had painted the walls with two coats of masonry paint from of a well-respected and well-known brand. The bricks were not of a soft type construction*

The paint removal was required to be achieved within the same day. The work was to be carried out outside

Before

After

The product chosen can only be used by approved contractors  meeting the Health & Safety requirements and expectations from the Government Health body : Health & Safety Executive (HSE). Moss Monster Ltd employees have this permission and have the CERTIFICATE OF COMPETENCE IN THE SAFE USE OF PAINT STRIPPER CONTAINING DICHLOROMETHANE.

* FIRST CLASS BRICKS: AESTHETIC, STRONG, HIGH QUALITY: These bricks will be used on the exterior of the building as they look the most aesthetic. They are rectangular on the surface, with a reddish, copper colour. They will be uniform in size, have no visible cracks or irregularities in the texture, and will have strength of 10N/mm2. They also have a very low water absorption rate of about 12% and will have a metallic appearance when stuck together. These bricks cost the most, which is why they would be used on the exterior of a construction.

Note: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) require employers to ensure that exposure is prevented or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately controlled. This guidance gives practical advice on how this can be achieved by applying the principles of good practice for the control of exposure to substances hazardous to health, as required by COSHH.

“Applying best techniques in this industry”

DISCLAIMER
Moss Monster Ltd accepts no liablity for any direct or indirect loss or damage from following advice on this website