How to Remove – or Conceal – Paint Splatter on Brick

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Q: Is there a way to remove, or at least cover, the paint that has gotten onto the bricks from sloppy work?

A: Removing paint from bricks – especially the types designed for walls rather than pavement – is tricky due to their texture and pores. The paint seeps into all the little crevices, making it essentially impossible to scrape or sand. And if you use a paint stripper, you risk spreading the residue on neighboring bricks, which would be even worse.

You can try removing the paint in a way that minimizes smudging, but you have to accept that if that doesn’t work well, you may need to cover the remnants with paint to match the bricks. Or you can avoid trying to strip it and move quickly to the painting step.

If you want to try paint removal, a paint stripper such as Peel Away, made by Dumond, may seem appealing. In theory, you should apply the stripper, cover it with the special paper that Dumond sells, wait for the stripper to act, then peel off the paper and the paint residue that clings to it, without risk of smudging. But a call to Dumond’s customer service line (609-655-7700) made it clear that the paper is there primarily to keep the stripper from drying too quickly; most of the softened paint will probably not come off with the paper when you go to remove it.

Nonetheless, the customer service agent recommended getting Dumond’s Paint Stripping Test Kit ($26.99 at Ace Hardware), as it contains small samples of three stripping formulas, along with paper and basic tools such as gloves, brushes and a scraper, so you can figure out what would work best on your brick. Paint formulas vary, so chemical strippers must also vary. Or, if you have a stripper from another project, you can test it, as long as the label says it can be rinsed off with water and is not highly alkaline, which could damage the bricks.

What questions do you have about maintaining your home?

The agent looked at the photo you sent and made a few observations that might influence the process on your home. The color of the paint on the brick matches the window trim, and it appears to be fairly new paint, so chances are it’s only a coat or two of paint water-based, rather than multiple coats that include old oil-based paint. He recommended testing the Smart Strip and Smart Strip Pro formulas in the kit, but setting aside the container of Peel Away, which was designed to work on thick coats of oil-based paint, including products. containing lead. (If you think the paint on the brick is from the 1970s or earlier, test the lead before proceeding.)

Although the areas of paint on the brick are large enough to look unsightly, from a stripping perspective they are quite small. The agent suggested not worrying about covering the stripper with paper; you can just apply a little more stripper if it dries too quickly. After about three hours the paint would probably be soft enough to remove, assuming you took care of it at a temperature of at least 40 degrees. Wait for warmer weather if necessary.

To scrape softened paint from small areas, use a small brush with stiff nylon bristles, such as the plastic-handled stripper brush ($4.99 at Ace Hardware), and wash it after each pass. (If you’re stripping a larger area, you’d also need a tool like the 3M Heavy-Duty Stripping Pad, which is $4.99 a two-pack at Ace.)

Be careful not to smudge the paint over a larger area. Work from the outermost part of the painting towards the window. Then, while the paint is still soft from the stripper, try to remove the remnants. Use the spray setting on a hose nozzle, not a pressure washer. To avoid damaging the paint around the window, protect the wood with a tool such as the Allway 12-inch Blue Steel Banding Knife ($12.75 at Walmart) in one hand while you use your other hand to eject the remains of paint. Alternate brushing and rinsing as needed.

If you still can’t get all the paint off, or don’t want to try stripping it, covering it with paint might be the best remedy. Bring paint sample cards home and compare them with the color of the brick to get the best match. Buy paint that is that color and a little darker, or ask the paint store if they can tint a small amount of the main color so that it is slightly darker.

Apply the main color to the paint you want to cover. Feather the edges, so there is no distinct line where the paint meets the unpainted brick. Let dry, then apply the darkest color with a stencil brush ($6.99 at Ace) with short, stubby bristles, to mimic the shadows formed by the texture of unpainted brick. Load a small amount of paint onto the tips of the brush and dab it onto the brick at a right angle with a sharp back-and-forth motion. Or hire a painter who specializes in faux painting. Someone who does sets for theater productions, all of which are fake effects, might also be able to create the magic you need.

A problem at home? Send your questions to [email protected]. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live, and try to include a photo.

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