How do I properly clean brick prior to painting?


I am thinking of painting my red brick 1960’s fireplace facade. What is the proper way to clean it prior to painting?

q cleaning brick prior to painting
  12 answers
  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Dec 18, 2018

    To make sure your paint adheres and dries properly, you'll need to thoroughly clean the brick. Use a wire scrub brush to remove any dirt or dust, then apply non-sudsy trisodium phosphate (also called TSP; wear gloves and safety goggles), and wash thoroughly with a heavy-duty cleaner. Rinse and let dry.

  • Betty Albright-Bistrow Betty Albright-Bistrow on Dec 18, 2018

    Hi Nancy! Here is some helpful information for you. I wish you the best and Merry Christmas!!

  • Taylor Taylor on Dec 19, 2018

    Be careful with the wired brush. Do not go too crazy. When I used it, it took off mortar.

    • Michael Dodd Michael Dodd on Dec 19, 2018

      It's best to use a brush made for cleaning tires. It's wide to shorten the job time and the bristle are stiff but not metal so you won't damage the mortar. I was a "tender" for a brick layer as a youth and we always used these.

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Dec 19, 2018

    Muriatic acid is a good product for cleaning brick and concrete before painting. Be sure to protect your eyes, skin and anything else around your project.

  • Cindy Hagemann Cindy Hagemann on Dec 19, 2018

    I just used a broom to sweep off the brick and vacuumed out the inside of the fireplace with a shop vac - then wiped it out with Windex. I always use chalk paint to paint the brick (and have done 5 fireplaces so far). I like to use 2-3 colors to show definition and depth of the brick. In this one - I used white, gray and black paints. I outlined the mortar lines first with white, dry brushed (very little paint) the white on the the bricks (almost dabbing) very lightly, then the same with the gray and a little black and then more white. I always paint the inside of the hearth with heat resistant paint, usually black because it covers up the soot.

  • Nancy Nancy on Dec 19, 2018

    Thank you all so much. Love the job you did on the fireplace in the pix, Cindy. Looks great!

  • D D on Dec 19, 2018

    I purchased an expensive brick painting kit. They recommended I use foaming bathroom cleaner on the bricks. It took 2-3 applications, but it worked! - Good luck!

    • Becky Becky on Dec 19, 2018

      I have a rock fireplace and just recently read to use scrubbing bubbles mega shower foam! I clean houses for a living and have used this stuff all the time but never dreamed of using it to clean brick/rock, and I covered the woodstove (it is an insert) for protection and began spraying away! I got my handy dandy scrub brush and did the whole front. There had been black smoke build up in areas and I had to go at it 3 times before I was satisfied, but noticed a HUGE difference on the first go round and what the heck? Third times a charm! I can't believe the difference it made and it sure beats the caustic acid cleaning! Smells good too!

  • Nancy Turner Nancy Turner on Dec 19, 2018

    If you go the muriatic acid route, make sure you protect your lungs by covering your nose and mouth heavily. I I have to use it on a toilet or ceramic tub, I hold a folded thick towel over my nose and mouth and put a fan on the other side of where I am working to blow the fumes out an open window. It is very hard on the lungs to breath in the fumes. It works great, but good solid protection is a necessity.

  • Denise Peabody Denise Peabody on Dec 20, 2018

    I used lysol scrubbing bubbles bathroom cleaner and rags. Painted it with chalk paint three years ago and many fires since it has held up beautifully. Easy and quick

  • Ellen Brown Ellen Brown on Dec 22, 2018

    DO NOT paint brick or rock. it looks cheep and you cannot get it off