How We Removed Paint from the Brick on The Merc

Dudes! We’re renovating an 1928 mercantile store and turning it into our dream home! Start from the beginning here!

Uncovering the brick on the front of the Merc has been a huge undertaking. In the 1940’s when the original store was added on to, the brick was covered up and has been buried under 2″ plaster ever since.

When I was planning the exterior reno I knew that I wanted to uncover it, but the problem with that is that you have no idea what you’re going to find. The brick had 3 layers of paint on it and had been HEAVILY scarred so that the plaster would stick to it. It wasn’t the pristine and perfect brick of my dreams, thats for sure.

One good thing that came out of the plaster removal was uncovering the original Santa Clara Merc Sign. Oh my gosh, guys it was the BEST!!

Even with the brick in as rough of shape as it was, we weren’t coving it back up so we had some work to do. We tried a few different techniques for taking the paint off and some worked better than others. Loads of you thought we should just leave it, but because the building on either side will have white stucco I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough contrast and really wanted the brick to be its original color.

The first thing we tried was power washing it.

We tried 2 different pressures with it. The first one took off 2 of the layers, but the bottom layer stuck. (This is the lowest section of the wall in the picture above)

The second one was a higher pressure, and while it took the layers off, it also ate away at the brittle brick and left it looking worse than before. (The middle section in the picture above)

The next thing we tried was using a paint stripper and it did absolutely nothing.

We also tried a wire brush on a grinder and while it took the paint off, it destroyed the brick.

After so many failed attempts we finally found one that worked! We used flap disc sanding pads that you put on a grinder and they work SO WELL. We got ours at Home Depot (they’re these ones!)


Look at that!!!

They do take off part of the brick, but just enough to remove the gouges and smooth it all flat. The little indents that you can still see are from where they nailed the chicken wire to the walls.

The lower section where we power washed it is still a little rough but waaaayyy better than it was. I think we’re going to go over it with a belt sander just to smooth it out a little bit more!

Its definitely labor intensive but SO worth it! Can the husband of the year get a round of applause?!

Up next is getting the grout lines prepped and ready for new grout! Its a good thing I’m a pro at this already 😉. We will definitely need to seal it to protect the brick because its so old, do you have any suggestions on a good brick sealer? Something that doesn’t leave a sheen is what we’re looking for!

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Author: Jeff Donaldsons

Good day everyone, I'm a family man who loves hanging out with friends & meeting new people. Family Friends and Coding Yeah!. I also love helping others.