Options for removing paint from brick include sandblasting, power washing, chemical removal and use of fabric strips over paint-removal paste. Sandblasting and power washing sometimes erodes older bricks, and chemical removal methods have the potential of changing the brick color.
Before beginning any method of removal, first test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the brick. Once the bricks are clean and dry, you can determine the effectiveness of the method, the risk posed to the bricks and the amount of labor the entire job requires.
Sandblasting and power washing are the least labor-intensive methods of removal and the fastest for removing paint. However, if the brick was deteriorating before painting, these methods are likely to cause further deterioration. They also require the use of specialized equipment available at tool rental stores.
The most effective paint strippers are also highly caustic. They require the use of personal protective equipment. When used outside, they sometimes damage landscaping.
The fabric removal method is safest for the brick, but requires more work. Apply the paste on the brick, allow the paint to soften, and then apply the fabric. Pull the fabric and paint off the surface. This method is the safest one for paint containing lead.