How to Clean and Restore an Exposed Brick Interior

Exposed brick walls can give your room a warm and rustic feel, but keeping them in order can be harder than you might think. However, you can restore them to their former glory or upgrade them with paint by following these simple steps.

Tools and materials needed to repair exposed brick

To fix lime mortar in an exposed brick wall, you’ll need a few tools and a little patience. First on the list are a hammer, chisel and some masonry mortar , as well as a wire brush. You will also need something to remove excess grout and smooth out the repair. To do this, you can use a masonry trowel , but if this is a one-time project, then a cheaper and easier option is a metal spoon. You can also cover floors with masking paper or a rag to make cleaning easier.

First, remove the damaged, loose grout

Start by using a chisel to gently remove the loose mortar from between the bricks, down to about ½ to 1 inch. If you have large gaps going deeper, it’s time to call in a professional bricklayer because there may be structural problems with your brick. After you clean up the damaged and flaking grout, use a wire brush to remove any stubborn bits and pieces. You are now ready to mix the solution.

Apply new solution

Mix the mortar following the instructions on the package and apply it to the space you made between the bricks. Be sure to keep a damp rag handy to wipe up excess grout while it’s still damp – it will be much harder to remove when it dries. Use a trowel or mortar spoon to level the mortar, working first on the vertical spaces and then on the horizontal spaces between the bricks. Once primed is complete, allow the solution to dry before sealing.

Seal your wall

The final step in restoring your newly repaired brick is to seal it to prevent future damage. For best results, use a water-based flat sealant . This will preserve the original finish of your brick while protecting the new grout and making it easy to clean without harmful fumes.

Peel an exposed brick

To clean exposed brick, avoid abrasive cleaners and materials as they can damage the wall. You can vacuum or clean the wall with a feather duster first, then use salt and dish soap to clean the brick. Mix salt and detergent 50/50 to create a paste-like texture, and then spread it on the wall with your hands or with a wet rag. You can brush it with a stiff bristle brush if your brick is newer, but do it carefully. Leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse off. This should leave your brick clean and undamaged.

Painting, staining or whitewashing

To prepare for painting, staining, or whitewashing, simply tape all adjacent surfaces with tape, as you would before painting any wall. But before you do, be aware that these methods will require some maintenance – painted brick will need to be repainted every 3-5 years – and once you’ve applied paint, stain or whitewash, it’s very difficult (and sometimes impossible) provide regression. So make sure this is what you really want before proceeding.


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