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I just purchased a historical house that was painted an ugly peach color. I bought some marine grade paint stripper that I was going to use little by little to strip the whole exterior by hand. This doesn't seem time or cost effective. I want to know what options are available to me to remove this paint without damaging the brick and mortar. Whether it be something I do, or a service.

I found this How can I remove paint from an indoor brick wall?, which mentions sand blasting and dry ice blasting. Is there anything else I can/should consider?

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Are you trying to restore it to its original style? Your local historical society might be interested and may be able to give you some pointers on what to do (or who to talk to about doing it for you). –  Niall C. Dec 30 '10 at 20:28
    
Original within reason. I love the old red brick; ive also been thinking about staining the brick a darker red, but i need to address this issue first. But thats about as crazy as i want to get with the exterior. Im kinda wary about contacting the Historical Society. It seems like some of these societies get all up in your business about what you can and cant do to your house. Having strangers tell me what i can and cant do with my property doesnt sit well with me, even if its to preserve the historical context of a neighbourhood. –  russjman Dec 30 '10 at 22:21
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This all depends on how long the paint has been on the house and what kind of shape it's in. Because brick is a porous material paint adheres very well to it. I think your first step would be going to the local paint store and rent a power-washer. A gas powered power-washer. You are going to need as much psi as possible (at least 3000+) with a pin-hole revolving tip. This will blast away any paint that is loose on the brick.

This should be less damaging to the brick and mortar than sand blasting.

Depending on how successful this was in removing paint dictates your next steps, if most of the paint is gone, then maybe just a wire brush and some paint remover will get the job done. If you've power-washed your whole house and it is still covered in paint, then I would call a contractor and get quotes.

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i think it was painted only about a year ago. I was thinking that may a combination of a applying paint stripper along with using a power washer(i have one available to me) would be more effective than doing it by hand. –  russjman Dec 29 '10 at 18:10
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If the paint is that fresh you may never get it off. try a little bit of the stripper on a few bricks (that you can't see, behind a bush or something) and see what happends. I'm not optimistic about this being a do-able project with paint that fresh. –  boxed-dinners Dec 29 '10 at 18:14
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I would be careful with the power washer, a high-psi tip with a narrow tip can cause significant damage, especially to brick that has been exposed to the elements for many years. You may end up doing more damage than good. –  James Van Huis Dec 29 '10 at 22:59
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I did a few brick on the side of the house with a bit of success, though the paint didn't come completely off. Now it looks like the paint had worn off a few decades ago. I having the 'weathered' look is a much better option than painted brick. It kills me to see beautiful red brick homes desecrated like this....:( –  russjman Dec 29 '10 at 23:28
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Have you considered simply painting the house a different color?

Removing paint from brick is very difficult, and involves the risk of damaging, discoloring, or completely ruining the bricks. Given that it is a historical house, you may have difficulty finding bricks to replace any damaged areas that may result from the removal process.

As a side note, you may want to try and find someone who was around at the time the house was painted. See if anyone can tell you if there was any visible problems with the brick before it was painted (graffiti? smoke damage? botched power wash job? rust stains?) You may be doing a whole lot of work just to uncover some discolored or otherwise damaged brick.

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I was specifically looking for a red brick historical home. When i found the one i eventually purchased i figured that removing exterior paint wouldnt be such a difficult undertaking. –  russjman Dec 29 '10 at 23:22
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I would at least keep this as a fallback position. Who knows, a previous owner could have gone through this exact situation with the house, and found/caused some irreparable damage to the brick, and then was forced to paint it to cover it up. Prepare yourself for the possibility of stained or discolored brick below the paint, and have a plan to deal with it before you start the job. –  James Van Huis Dec 29 '10 at 23:30
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