Whether for environmental or aesthetic appeal, more and more people want to reuse construction materials. Referred to by some as “upcycling,” the process of salvaging building materials is nothing new, but with heightened interest. So, what happens when you want to carefully remove a building material away from its supposedly permanent position? You have to work a little bit smarter! In this piece, we’re going to look at how to remove construction adhesive from brick.
Now, when we say “remove construction adhesive from brick,” many may think we’re talking about mortar. If that were the case, that would entail breaking out an assortment of highly acidic solutions and donning some heavy-duty protective gear. In this tutorial, we’re looking at adhesives—plastic or rubber-based glues.
Due to its immensely strong hold on construction material, if you were to simply rip off construction adhesives, they will likely damage the surfaces they’ve bound to before they break apart themselves. This unusual behavior is because they may be more durable than the materials they’re binding together. Unlike these construction materials, however, construction adhesives can be weakened by heat. Hitting construction adhesives with hair-dryers on maximum heat settings or with heat guns can soften the material. This process should allow for its removal from bricks and other materials not damaged by immense heat.
Upon successfully heating and removing construction adhesive, there’s a high likelihood of adhesive residue on the brick. While you could attempt to continue blasting these remnants off with heat, you’re more likely to melt it in place on the absorbent brick material. Instead, you can soften these residues using—you guessed it—petroleum jelly! Mineral spirits may also be used. Keep in mind that these two removal agents may take several days to do the trick fully. This still may not remove the material entirely. If heat and chemical agents have not finished the job, its time to introduce brute force...and wire.
When heat and “vaseline” aren’t finishing the job, it may be time to do the next best thing—scraping the glue off with wire. Your best bet is taking anywhere from 18-to-24-gauge wire, wrapping a few fingers in it many times over, and using it to scrape the bricks. This action should dislodge the remaining adhesive residue. Finishing off the bricks with a coarse wire brush may be necessary to get the last bits of residue to break free.
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