Step 3- How to Clean Your Brick

Now, when beginning the brick painting process, it’s important to remove any substance that may inhibit adhesion of the primer and paint materials from the bricks surface. Some examples of of these substances include smoke and creosote film, grease, dust, and wax (usually from candles).






   

Dirt

To remove dust and dirt from brick, use a brush, broom or vacuum. 

   

Smoke and Grease

To remove smoke and grease stains from brick, you can use a solution of TSP (available at most paint large
hardware stores). Use 1 part TSP to 16 parts of hot water and mix for about 1 minute. Double this solution for aggressive stains.  Use a scrub brush, sponge, and absorbent rags to remove the smoke from your brick. 


Another product that I have effectively used to clean brick is Scrubbing Bubbles. The foaming action works very well to loosen up creosote and smoke from the bricks surface.

Scrubbing Bubbles also works well to clean and remove brick efflorescence. Of course, any condition that leads to efflorescence on brick such as external leaks should be corrected prior to painting. If the efflorescence is not corrected, do not paint, as the minerals extracted from the brick will cause adhesion and peeling problems.


With either of the above mentioned cleaning products, multiple applications may be necessary to remove most of the substance that is creating the potential adhesion problem. It should be mentioned that after cleaning the brick, some slight residual stains may still exist. Don’t worry too much about these since they shouldn’t create any adhesion issues.


Wax

The easiest way to remove wax from brick is with heat. Place a slightly damp cloth over the wax and heat it with an iron. The heated wax should leach from the brick into the cloth. An alternative, is to heat the wax using a heat gun. Once heated and softened, use a wire brush to loosen the wax before using a cloth to absorb the wax.


At this point it should be mentioned that anytime chemical products or paints are used, always remember to wear protective clothes, gloves, and goggles and to protect nearby floors, furniture, etc., with plastic and/or drop clothes.


Once the brick has been cleaned you’ll want to check for any gaps between the brick mortar joints and/or gaps between the bricks and walls. To fill these gaps you can either purchase a small bag of new mortar or purchase a premixed mortar repair product. Either of these can be found at Lowe’s or Home Depot.


I like the repair mix sold in tubes or cartridges which can be loaded into a caulk gun and used like caulk. You can also use siliconized paintable caulk instead of mortar, to fill very shallow surface cracks. After applying the caulk, be sure to wipe off all residual caulk from the mortar joints to avoid a look that’s smoother than the surrounding mortar.


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