Need to remove cement coating from old chimney. I have an 1880 house with chimneys made from coal fired brick. Previous owner covered the upper 7 feet (above the gable) with a layer of surewall, quickwall, or similar thin coating and painted to look like bricks. I want to remove the coating and repoint the bricks, if feasible or practicable. Worst case is upper bricks come off, cleaned, and rebuilt with lime cement.

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    Probably a pressure washer will do it, but you won't know until you try. The real trick is to find someyhing that takes the coating off without damaging the brick (so I'm not suggesting sandblasting, for instance.) Acids might work, but I'm not sure how you'd do that both safely and effectively up there without potentially damaging your house.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 3:21

1 Answer 1


You can use a needle scaler to remove a cement-like coating from brick. This is an in-line pneumatic needle scaler: (photo credit Amazon.com)

needle scaler

Pistol grip models are also available. The advantage of using this kind of tool is that you can control the intensity of removal by adjusting how hard you press the vibrating needles against the surface. A little pressure will pulverize the coating. Too much pressure will damage the brick. A little practice will get you where you need to be.

Don't forget the eye and hearing protection, plus an effective dust mask.

There are online videos that show needle scalers in use, most often to remove rust or paint from steel, but this screen grab from Youtube shows painted stucco being removed from brick:


Needle scalers use a great deal of compressed air -- I'm talking stationary shop compressor amounts -- so don't even think of using a small hot dog or pancake compressor, or you'll spend all your time waiting for pressure to build back up. If you don't already have a large compressor, you may need to rent one. Electric needle scalers are also available, but they are expensive and heavy.

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