• July 15, 2010

How To Remove Paint Residue From Cement, Stone or Brick

Using something that you probably already have in your cupboard

How To, Removing Paint,

After you have stripped paint off of a stone fireplace, you know how you are usually left with a fine film of paint residue? And it just won’t quite go away no matter how much paint stripper you use? Plain, white vinegar, any brand, will instantly remove the paint residue and brighten your masonry.

A few years ago I worked on a project that had a painted fireplace. The fireplace had an attached screen on it. Once the screen was removed the homeowner could see how nice the original stone looked, and was excited to return the fireplace to its original state.

After the fireplace was stripped with a chemical paint remover there was still a little bit of paint residue and a light film the covering the stone.

Our contractor told me how vinegar would remove the paint film. It is such an easy and affordable solution that really works! Vinegar also brightened the stone.

Comments { 19 }
  1. Felicity

    I knew vinegar was great for a final rise when cleaning paint brushes, but never thought it would work so well on brick. Great tip!

    • Erika

      We did 2 applications of Peel Away and, although it took the bulk of the paint off our bricks, there was still quite a bit of paint residue in the cracks and crevices. White vinegar did nothing to help, although I did not have the patience to spend after the patience involved with Peel Away. Also, the white vinegar didn’t seem to be doing much good and it may be because our brick is much darker than the brick shown in the photo and the brick in the photo appears to be much smoother than our brick. It was time to get out the big guns. Removed all the furniture from the livingroom, used heavy plastic to cover as much of the walls and floors as possible and used a power washer (yes, INSIDE the house! – we were obviously desperate). While hubby powerwashed, I frantically shop vacced and it worked like a charm – the brick is and motar are completely paint free. If you work quickly with the power washer, it won’t take more than 20-30 minutes. Highly recommend using a very powerful shop vac though. We had one but I wanted to rent a more powerful one. When we were done, hubby admitted that a more powerful shop vac would have made the job easier and less messy. Although honestly, not much water ended up seeping into our basement from the process but it would have been even less water had we rented a more powerful shop vac. Hope this helps although this method is not for the faint of heart.

  2. artemis

    This looks wonderful—what did you use to strip the paint in the first place? We have pipe dreams of stripping our fireplace, but a lot of people had told me we wouldn’t be able to get the paint out of the nooks and crannies….looks like you did!

  3. Heather

    Artemis, it can be done. It takes some work and patience, but I think the end result is so worth it!

    The fireplace was stripped with a chemical stripper called Master Strip Formula A that you can buy at paint stores in Los Angeles. It is a local product and I am not sure if it is widely distributed. But, any strong chemical paint stripper should work fine.

  4. Leslie

    I can’t stand that film! I’m definitely going to try this.

  5. Paula

    what about the smell? it looks like you put plastic over the fireplace to let the vinegar set, did you wait over night or longer? Did you have to rinse the fireplace in anyway? we are looking at doing this for our bedroom and i dont want it to stink :) thanks!

  6. evan

    also works for getting off grout film from tiles

  7. mike

    i will like to know if vinegar could take off enamal paint from stone

    • Heather

      No, it cannot. You need to use paint stripper. Vinegar ONLY removes paint residue on stone left over from the paint stripper.

      • Ann collinss

        Can anyone tell me how to remove emulsion pain from patio brick. I have overpay. Thank you

  8. Alice Clay

    Hi, we have a 60 year old red brick home that used to have white shutters on it. The white shutters caused a running white stain on the bricks on either side of the windows that goes down past the windows. Is there anything we can do to get this stain off of the brick?


    Alice Clay

    • John Frost

      would someone please reply to the Alice Clay question.

  9. Jumbly

    I wouldn’t do what Erika did! Using so much water indoors is a great way to destroy floors, walls, and the ceiling of the next level below you. The author mentioned using vinegar to get paint stripping residue off, not for getting paint off. For indoor paint removal, use strippers, heat guns, or an air tool called a needle scaler.

  10. Susan

    If vinegar can help remove the residue, I wonder if a citric acid cleaner which comes in a past form would be more effective as it stays in place. This is packaged as Ceramabryte or by other names for smooth stop stoves. Citric acid is a stronger acid, like acetic acid.

    The paste form would make it easier to work with.

    If anyone tries it and it works, please post!

  11. Lori kenny

    I have a fireplace made of stones from the beach.previous owner painted it with black semi gloss…help! How do I remove this?

  12. Sharon J.

    I tried the vinegar on my paint residue on my front porch.
    I can tell you it does work but it left a brownish residue
    behind that I can’t get rid of. I have tried using a wire
    brush to wear the residue down but that doesn’t even work.
    I think I left the vinegar on longer that I should. So be
    careful or you will have a worse problem than paint residue.

  13. carolyn

    vinegar tried on stone fireplace the smell I cannot take gives me a headache,
    I need a quick fix I have scrubbed till my arm hurts.
    the vinegar has stone looking ash like white film over it. please help!!!

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