Removing Tar from Interior Exposed Brick Wall

Old 03-09-16, 10:12 AM
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Removing Tar from Interior Exposed Brick Wall

Hi All-
I've got a brownstone row home, end unit. Built in 1913. I recently took off the mortar covering the end unit wall when you walk in the front door. Low and behold, the brick is covered with a tar-like substance. My goal is to expose the original brick. That is going to be much more difficult than I originally estimated.

Was this used for sealing the outside wall? Was it for holding the plaster?

I've tried to chisel it off, to not much success. It is brittle but stubborn. This would also take days/weeks, which I don't have, and stains will remain. I've tried stripping products and this doesn't do much either. It actually makes the brick stains worse. I tried to use a block of dried ice, but the problem there is attaching it to the wall long enough to freeze the tar.

Any ideas on how to secure the dry ice in place for long enough to freeze it?

I would like to avoid blasting since this is indoors. The best luck I've had is with a good old does come off, but very slowly. I've not been able to find much on the internet- does anyone have any reccomendations?

Other options I'm considering-
Using a belt sander or grinder- thoughts?
Using a dremel with a sander attachment?
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Old 03-09-16, 12:33 PM
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If you want to hold dry ice on the wall I'd get a heavy welding glove or heavy winter glove and hold the block of dry ice to the wall. You only need to freeze 1/8" deep so it won't take long... it's still going to be a big job and require a lot of dry ice if that method even works.

You could try abrasive blasting. Sand is probably too tough and would easily damage the brick but you could start with walnut shells or another soft medium. There is also blasting with dry ice but I'm thinking that might be too soft to remove the tar.
Old 03-09-16, 01:27 PM
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Not sure why tar was applied and if it was for waterproofing - that should have been done on the exterior side. IMO as difficult as it will be to remove the tar, I'd just paint over it or fur the wall out and apply drywall or paneling.

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