When you are remodeling a room with a fireplace, it may be necessary to remove paint from the bricks. If you choose to do this, you will have to be extremely careful not to damage the brick. In some cases, it will be possible to restore the brick to a natural finish; however, it may be necessary to repaint the bricks if they have surface damage.
Cover the floor near the brick fireplace with a heavy plastic sheet or tarp. Tape around the edges of the plastic to ensure that no surfaces get damaged by the chemicals you will need to remove the paint from the fireplace.
Test the fireplace to determine how it reacts to the paint thinner made for brick surfaces. Use a sponge to apply paint thinner to a small area of the brick and leave it for five to 10 minutes. Take notice of how the brick reacts to the paint thinner. If the brick begins to crumble, you won’t be able to remove the paint. If you don’t notice any damage to the brick, continue with the process.
Apply paint thinner to the brick in sections approximately one square foot starting at the highest point on the fireplace that is painted. Use a sponge to saturate the area with paint thinner.
Leave the paint thinner on for five minutes.
Scrub the paint thinner using a stiff bristled brush. The paint thinner and paint should begin to come off.
Repeat the process on the remaining painted brick of the fireplace, continuing to work on small areas of the fireplace at a time.
Look for any remaining areas of paint on the brick. If you notice any, sand them using 120-grit sandpaper. If there is a lot of paint left, you can repeat Steps 3 through 6 in the areas where paint remains.
Allow the brick to dry for at least one week before lighting a fire. This allows any paint thinner that has soaked into the brick to dry.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear gloves and safety goggles when removing paint from the brick fireplace.
- Lye is sometimes recommended to remove paint from brick. Because this solution is highly caustic and dangerous, it isn’t a good option to use for most indoor applications. If, however, you find that you must use lye, follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- If the interior of the fireplace is painted, hire a professional to sandblast the paint. Using paint thinner or any other chemical on the interior of the fireplace is extremely dangerous.
- When you are removing the paint from the brick fireplace, if you notice any deep cracks or severe damage to the bricks, contact a professional to repair the brickwork before using the fireplace.
- Heavy plastic sheet or tarp
- Paint thinner for brick surfaces
- Stiff bristle brush
- 120-grit sandpaper
- Special Thanks to Ricardo Marquez for the lovely photo!