Stripping (and painting?) brick stairs

Old 05-15-22, 10:19 AM
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Stripping (and painting?) brick stairs

I have a set of brick front steps. They've been painted, in one fashion or another, since probably the Kennedy administration. I don't know if there was ever a strip-and-repaint since then or if it's continuous layers.

In more recent years, despite my efforts at surface prep, they always seem to need another paint job at least every two-three years.

So this year I'm going to try to strip the stairs down to bare brick. I'm using a mix of pressure washing (electric machine) and paint stripping compound. I'm going to try two of the latter--CitriStrip and Safe Strip. Not one on top of the other but side by side, so I can see which works better.

I thought starting with the pressure washer makes sense since that'll remove what's basically loose and so give the paint stripper better access. I've used the washer enough that I'm basically familiar with it but I'm certainly no expert. I obviously want to avoid removing any mortar while I'm pressure washing. Once I start with the paint stripper I'm assuming a scraper will work to begin, until I get down closer to the brick and the surface gets too rough; I have a wire brush for that.

If the paint removal doesn't go well--i.e., I just can't get it all off, and evenly, or the brick below looks horrid--I figure I can just repaint, and maybe having removed most of the paint will help the new layer stick better. FWIW, since these are steps I also add a sand compound, to prevent slipping. I don't recall the product info but it's sold for this purpose.

So, any tips on getting the paint off, other than what I've said? I don't truly know how far back the bottom layers of paint go, but maybe a lead test kit might be wise, too. And if I have to repaint... how to I ensure that it sticks? In the past I've pressure washed and wire brushed, but it still comes off. Or maybe there's a particular sort of paint to look for?
Old 05-15-22, 10:41 AM
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It's going to be somewhat experimental but I don't think I'd use a pressure washer.
The mortar between the bricks is usually soft.
I would think a gel type stripper should work pretty well.
A wire brush would be helpful too.
Old 05-15-22, 10:45 AM
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It can be difficult to get paint to adhere long term to most any substrate that is subjected to the elements and traffic like I assume your steps are. The original coatings would have been oil base although the top layers of paint might be latex. Latex strips easier than oil base. If you get most of the paint off you might consider a concrete stain, it won't last any longer but there would be less work involved when it's time to recoat.

I'd suggest going to your local paint store [not a paint dept] and discuss it with them. They should be able to advise which of their coatings will work best in your climate.

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