how to clean old brick

Old 10-24-04, 11:42 AM
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how to clean old brick

Have a 1950s reclaimed brick fireplace with a built in cooking area/barbeque grate on the side.

Looks like it's been used for cooking--the whole front of the fireplace looks dingy.

How can the brick be cleaned?

Old 10-30-04, 02:58 PM
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Cleaning brick

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Old 10-31-04, 09:53 AM
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Hello vickyb,

No brick cleaning expert here, and there certainly will be other opinions, but from my experiences dealing in bricks (as the present owner of family run ornamental and architectural salvage yards that started as used brickyards after the Civil War) ... what you can do ... what your options and choices are ... what your success may or may not be ... honestly ALL really depends on what type of brick you have.

Bricks are usually made from one of three types of clay: 1) 'loose' surface, 2) shale, and 3) deep mined clays that have been under pressure for thousands of years.

Each of the three above types contains it's own natural amount of natural water, and then each brick company uses a mixing process where more water is added. Water content is one of the key factors (as is kiln dry time and temps) in determining what kind of porosity the bricks will or will not have. Obviously that porosity allows ... or prevents ... dirt, grime, soot build-up and etc ... and that very same porosity allows or prevents cleaning.

There are hundreds of commercial brick cleaners available ... and it's simply imposssible to suggest just one that will work for all bricks. The same holds true for the popular homemade recipes. All these cleaners can work great on one type of brick but not on another ... sometimes they can even make the bricks look worse!

My suggestion is to visit a mason supply business or two in your area and to describe your problem to the counter sales clerks .... maybe bring a picture if possible ... and ask to see what cleaning products they have to offer. Read the labels on their cleaners and make sure you can safely use it ... some cleaners are toxic and must be very carefully handled.

IMHO don't get your hopes up .... while bricks often respond well to commercial cleaners and homemade recipes ... some simply just will not.

All that said, we do not use over the counter cleaners; we use a high pressure steam process in our salvage yards for the type of bricks you are describing .... it cleans away most of the grease, soot and grime, and cleans them well. The bricks we can not clean are unsaleable get crushed and sold as fill.

Good luck,

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