Removing Paint from Masonry

What to Know Before Removing Paint from Masonry Surfaces

During any home renovation, it is likely that the paint will need to be touched up. While the paint stripping and reapplying process is generally straightforward for many building materials, matters can get a bit complicated when it comes to masonry, as the porosity of products such as brick and stone can make paint removal a chore on these surfaces.


As a result, there are some important concepts to take into consideration when removing paint from masonry as a part of your next renovation project. 

Check the Weather

Due to the aforementioned porosity, untreated brick and stone are extremely susceptible to inclement weather. If you remove the paint from these surfaces and a rainstorm strikes, they will readily absorb the moisture, causing delays while you wait for the masonry to dry. What’s more, if a major freeze occurs while the masonry is untreated, the structure is highly likely to crack, which will require a much more extensive renovation than just removing paint from masonry and adding new paint.


Therefore, prior to removing paint from masonry products, it is essential to check the weather and be confident that you will have several days of favorable working conditions.

Make Sure You Have the Right Product

A general paint remover is not likely to work on most masonry surfaces, as masonry will require a solvent-like product that is capable of bedding down into the pores of the brick and stone to dissolve any absorbed paint.


In addition, most residential masonry surfaces are painted with some type of latex paint, with many removal products designed toward such. However, if the paint on your masonry is the result of graffiti or some other non-latex product, then you may need to search around and find the ideal stripper to deal with such paint types.  

Test Before Going

Even though you are sure you have the right product, you do not want to apply it to your masonry en masse without first testing its efficacy. Start with a small section of two or three bricks or stones in an area that is not at the center of attention, should something go wrong while removing paint from your masonry. 


Apply the removal material and cover with some plastic sheeting. Some products claim to strip the paint in as little as 30 minutes, while others require you to wait up to 24 hours. Once the waiting period is over, remove the plastic and check the results. If you are happy with how the stripper worked, you can be confident that the product will be effective on the entire surface. If not, make the necessary adjustments and test again.

Prepare for Removal

After you have tested a small section to your satisfaction, seeing that you successfully removed paint from masonry, it is time to remove the paint from the entire masonry surface. There are several important factors to guarantee success:


  • Clean the surface thoroughly. You want the paint remover working to dissolve the paint, not any built-up gunk and grime. Cleaning with a pressure washer is recommended prior to paint removal, but you will need to budget up to 24 hours to let the brick or stone dry prior to adding the stripper. For any particularly dirty areas, you may need to scrub by hand.
  • Wear personal protective equipment. Most paint strippers will be harmful if inhaled or contacting the skin, especially in sensitive areas around the eyes or open wounds. Therefore, be sure to have long clothing, a mask, goggles, and gloves prior to going to work.
  • Have sufficient plastic sheeting. It is essential that you have enough material to cover the treated area. The paint should come off as you remove the sheeting from the surface, so any discontinuities in the coverage may throw a wrench in this process.

Touch Up the Surface

Once the plastic sheeting is removed after the stripper has worked for the allotted time frame, the vast majority of the masonry surface should be restored to its original state. However, if there are small sections that are still displaying paint, take your putty knife or some steel wool and gently work to remove this paint from your masonry.


Removing paint from masonry surfaces is not as simple as taking a scraper and chipping away. Due to the high porosity of brick and stone surfaces, the paint will get absorbed and require a dissolving agent to bed into the pores and work the paint loose. By using a high-quality, masonry-focused paint stripper and following the aforementioned advice, removing paint from brick and restoring your masonry surfaces back to their original state will require minimal effort. 


Skylar Ross is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Skylar is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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