Can You Sandblast Paint Off Brick?

brick wall with red, white, and pink paint

If you're remodeling your home, at some point you may need to remove paint from brick. You may want to expose the brick's natural color, or prepare it to be painted differently. You might do so to restore a brick fireplace or remove paint from a brick patio and breathe fresh life into your home. While it may seem like the obvious way to remove the paint, you should never sandblast paint off the brick.

What is Sandblasting?

Sandblasting allows you to clean a surface with a sand jet and compressed air or steam. It can be used to remove paint, rust, and other residues from hard materials without hours of scrubbing and chemicals, but it's an extremely powerful process, requiring protective equipment and careful safety procedures.

The sandblasting technique can also be used to change a metal surface. It can remove scratches and other marks.

person with protective gear sandblasting a surface

Why Shouldn't I Sandblast Bricks?

Sandblasting paint off the surface of bricks is very difficult to do cleanly and thoroughly. Brick is a soft building material, and using a sandblaster will remove the paint from the surface of the brick and about half the brick with it as well. Avoid using a sandblaster to remove paint from brick.

What Can I Use Instead?

white painted wall

If you're looking to remove paint from bricks, your best bet may be a paint stripping product like Citri-Strip or SmartStrip. To start, use a gel or paste compound and then place fabric-based peeling strips on the surface of the brick.

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Paint stripper softens paint. When you are using a peeling strip, the paint will stick to the strip. Once you pull it away, the paint should come right off with the strip. In most instances, though, it will not all come off at once and you will need to scrape the remaining paint off.

What Do I Use Sandblasting for Then?

Just because sandblasting shouldn't be used to remove paint from bricks doesn't mean there aren't situations where you will sandblast something. It is best used on metal to remove marks, rust, and paint.

Is Sandblasting Legal?

In many jurisdictions, sandblasting on private property is allowed but regulated if being done on commercial properties. In the UK, however, it is illegal to use the most common forms of sand used in sandblasting. The reason is that the dust particles created in the sandblasting process can lead to lung disease. So make sure to check local regulations if you plan to sandblast something.

hands holding sandblaster hose

Is It Harmful to the Environment?

Sandblasting is not without environmental concerns. The issue is really with the material used to sandblast. If the material you are using is actually sand there may be more concerns that if you use water or air to sandblast something.

Is Protective Gear Needed When Sandblasting?

Before you even think about sandblasting something, make sure you have the proper protective gear. Particles created in the sandblasting process can be dangerous and you should take every precaution necessary.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration urges workers engaging in sandblasting to wear hearing protection. Sandblasting creates loud noises that can lead to hearing loss if not guarded against, according to the OSHA. The group also urges workers to wear personal protective equipment including respiratory gear.

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