How to Remove Mortar

grrl8trax said...

Okay brick enthusiasts, when you find a brick with some mortar over the letters on it, how do you remove the mortar without removing the letters? I was thinking of trying sandpaper.


  1. Soak the brick in water for a few hours to fill pores with water.

    Hold your breath as you do not want to breath any of the acid fumes as you pore some muriatic acid into a ceramic container like a bowl or something the shape of a baking pan to a level of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch.

    Then carefully dip brick in muriatic acid. You can get the acid at Loews and maybe HomeDepot. You don't have to dilute the acid and the acid will dilute itself as the active ingredients react with the stuff in the concrete.

    You should also have a scrub brush with a handle over the part holding the bristles.

    Depending on how thick the concrete or mortar is, it is good to remove the sandy part as the lime or cement is dissolved away. In scrubbing. I usually have a second bucket of water handy into which to dip the acid wet brick in order to rinse the acid off. You can also dip your fingers in this water to rinse off any acid you think you may have come in contact with.

    Hold the brick in one hand, and push the brush while scrubbing away from you. You don't want to spray the splattered acid toward you as the bristles snap back.

    If you need to remove more, dip it in the acid again. I do not immerse the whole brick - just the face that I want to clean. It may be a good idea to use rubber gloves to protect your hands.

    Some people dip their brick into another bucket of water with baking soda mixed into it. This will neutralize any acid that may not have "spent" itself on dissolving concrete and mortar. Rinse brick in the soaking water and let dry.

    It's all quite simple and it works pretty fast. Some mortars scrub off easily w/o dipping in acid. Those brick generally fall off the building by themselves.

  2. Thanks Fred. Here in Boston bricks are falling off buildings by themselves all the time. Nobody seems to give a darn about proper repointing.