Cultivating Home

Stripping Paint from Old Brick Columns

The rental property we are renovating is an older home that has seen many styles and paint colors come and go. The front porch is supported by craftsman style wood & brick columns. These guys have seen better days and are definitely in need of love!

A New Day

Originally we planned to repaint the brick portions. Because we wanted a clean look, we planned to strip the paint off the brick as much as possible. This would even out the surfaces by removing paint that is already starting to chip or peel away. With painting, the smoother the surface the easier the paint job.

As I started stripping the paint, we realized a couple things:

  1. There are many, many layers of paint here. Underneath the gray, there is yellow, red, brown, cream, white and who knows what else. Stripping down to the brick will be a very labor intensive job.
  2. The columns actually look pretty good mostly stripped, but not stripped clean! The column has a great distressed look.

After seeing how it looked after stripping the first side, we’ve decided to go with it.

How We Did It

Materials needed: Paint stripper, afterwash, chip brush, cement scrapers (various sizes as needed), rags, chemical safe gloves, eye protection, face mask (if you are sensitive to fumes), plastic trash bags, plastic sheeting

  1. Prep & Safety – Paint stripper is intense. Use appropriate eye protection and face masks in the event of getting accidentally splashed in the eye or mouth. Make sure your gloves are rated for chemical use. If you need to buy some, it should say what materials it is appropriate for use with. Prep your drop areas and materials so you have everything at hand. And can clean up easily.
  2. Apply Paint Stripper – Use a chip brush (or any other inexpensive brush that you don’t care about) to slather on the paint stripper. Let sit for at least 5 minutes. Follow your product’s label instructions for dispensing the chemical. I pour mine into a small metal paint can. Avoid plastic.
  3. Scrape – Use cement scrapers to push and scrape the paint away. Take off as much or as little as you like to achieve the amount of “distress” you want to see. Apply additional chemical if you want to go another round of paint removal.
  4. Finish – Use a rag or sponge to wipe down the newly exposed and distressed brick with afterwash. Afterwash is another intense chemical so stay safe! The afterwash will help remove small bits of debris. It also has the effect of blurring the remaining paint (sort of like a make-up primer you might put on your face), softening the colors a bit on top of the brick.

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