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"UN"-painting a fireplace

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Joined: Apr 13 2005

Any suggestions on how to get the brick (interior) around a fireplace back to original? In my case, it has at least one thick layer of semi-gloss paint on it. I have no idea whether it is oil or latex, or how long it has been on there.

Joined: Mar 21 2003

Good Luck!

I hear that "sand" blasting with an appropriate media will take off the paint without ruining the brick. But we are living in our house so the thought of trying that was out of the question.

We did try some of the "safe" orange/critrus based paint removers and had almost no measurable results. We finally got most of the paint off using the Jasco stuff that is pretty toxic. The "used brick" look that resulted was better than what we started with and we lived with that for several years.

In our case the final factor was that some previous owner had replaced the brick hearth with some oddly colored marble that went with nothing. We wanted to put a brick hearth in to bring it back to original. The problem was finding bricks the same exact size and color as the "used brick" looking originals on the fireplace itself. That was not possible, so we removed all the interior bricks and installed new ones. The new ones are not exactly the same size as the original which means that we had to fake it a bit to match the width and height. But unless we pointed it out , you would not notice.

Unfortunately we cannot recommend a mason as we and the mason we used parted terms on less than the best of terms and we had to do the finishing touches ourselves.

Joined: Aug 12 2004

In order of my preferences to remove paint.

1) Sand blast. Can be done while living in there, but not easy.

2) Torch and scrap. See potential problem with the crevices holding onto the old paint.

3) Chemical. Tod covered this well.

Joined: Dec 14 2003

We are using Peelaway 7 on the ceiling with some success. They claim it is non-toxic and they do make a version for masonry. I don't know if Tod tried the Peelaway product, but they are generally pretty good.

Joined: Oct 10 2003

jx: that peelaway stuff seems pretty enticing. Is this something you'd find at Home Despot, or do you have to go to some kind of specialty store?


Joined: Dec 14 2003

The company that makes it:

I bought the test gallon at Sherwin Williams, but we froogled it and bought a 5 gallon tub on-line from a woodworking place:

It works pretty well, but the ceiling is still a lot of work. The scope of the fireplace seems a little more realistic.

Joined: Apr 13 2005

So, looks like sand-blasting is the preferred method. Any thoughts on where to rent a sand-blaster, or preferably some contact info for people who will do the sand-blasting work? I am hoping to find someone in the South Bay - San Jose area. Please send recommendations directly to geminder AT gmail DOT com


Joined: Aug 28 2003

After talking to an architect in L.A. who recommends sandblasting for restoration work--I came away with the impression that he recommends moving out while you are having the sandblasting done as it is pretty hard to contain.

Joined: Apr 2 2003


eichfan at rawbw dot com

Joined: Mar 2 2004

I don't think 'restoration' to original is really a possibility. Brick is pourous, which means paint can absorb into the surface. Brick is also fairly soft (compared to rock). Sandblasting quickly erodes the surface, leaving an unoriginal texture, unevenness and rounded corners. A contractor in the 'waterblasting' business told me last week that sand blasting was not legal any more. I don't know if that is true or not. I have seen individuals rent sandblasting equipment in the past. Sand and dust get everywhere. Jake's experience will give you fair warning on what to expect.

Joined: Aug 12 2004

Sand blasting has been added to many lists for control.

Inhaling both the sand and removed particles has been found to be close to asbestos inhalation. Nasty.

It's the size and shape of the particles that makes it impossible for the lungs to expel easily, so stuck to irritate and over time cause scarring.

The size, shape and type of sand matters. The air pressure and flow rate matters.

There are other types of abrasives. Walnut shell particles, glass beads, plastic, etc.

Any "good" sand blasting company should know the applicable codes and materials they can use. Plus the processes required.

Thinking about it bit more, this is the way I'd do it if mine.

Torch and scrap as much of it off as possible. The recesses will hold in some of the paint regardless of how hard you scrape. Then sand blast it with the least abrsive materials and the least amount of pressure.

For those who don't know, all paint can be torched and scraped off except for expoy based paints. They all are just plastic after it's cured. Heat will soften it and then use a putty knife to scrape it off. Messy, but that is what drop clothes are for... :)

Joined: Jul 28 2004

Another solution is to skip the sandblasting and resurface with stone that has an Eichler "feel."

Our painted fireplace presented the same challenge, and we couldn't face the mess presented by sandblasting. So we resurfaced the fireplace with some lovely natural stone tiles that have a contemporary look. Unless you are a real Eichler purist, I think you would find this solution very satisfactory.

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