Use care to remove paint from brick

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Q. Black enamel paint was sprayed on the masonry walls of our seven-year-old church. The walls are of common red brick with a sprayed and baked sand finish. Rubbing removes the brick finish along with the paint. Sure Klean Heavy Duty Paint Stripper, made by ProSoCo of Kansas City, Kan., was suggested to remove the paint. However, we were cautioned that sand-finish brick is harder to clean than an unfinished one. What do you say? Paul P. Massa Washington, D.C.

A. Masonry restoration and cleaning cannot be taken lightly. Of the hundreds of paint strippers, few manufacturers recommend their specific product for masonry application. Most strippers are made for removal of paint or varnish from wood or metal surfaces.

Not only the compound used for paint removal must be right, but the application procedure as well.

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Usually, sand blasting not only removes the paint but may also erode the surface to which the paint is applied.

When the outer skin of brick is removed, its hardest part is gone. This may result in accelerated deterioration of the masonry and entrance therein of precipitation. Thus, avoid sand or water blasting to remove paint on brick.

C. W. Faulkenberry, staff engineer of the Brick Institute of America McLean, Va., writes: "The Sure Klean Heavy Duty Paint Stripper should remove the paint if applied in conformance with the manufacturer's recommendation.

"Scrubbing or scraping the painted area will also cause major amounts of the sand finnish to be dislodged. . . . Use the paint stripper without scrubbing or scraping.

"As always when cleaning brick masonry, a small, inconspicuous area should be cleaned and examined to determine if the result is satisfactory."

Kenneth Boyer, a ProSoCo vice-president, offers assistance if you wish. His telephone number is (913) 281-2700.

Our ever-ready paint consultant, William Fite of Frazee Paint Company, San Diego, says he believes that paint thinner may be worth a try. Experiment on a small area to determine the results. Using a nonmetal bristle brush, dab the remover into the pores of the brick. Rinse with water from a garden hose.

Caution: Experiment with whatever you use first on a small remote area to see the results before going whole hog.

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