SoyGel Paint Stripper

                                                            Or magic in a bottle.

And so, against the advice of the majority, I decided to experiment with stripping back the bright red fireplace.

After lots of online research, I came across a product which is apparently 100% made from soybeans, is non-toxic and practically odour free ie. the perfect thing if one has a small girl running about.  The thick gel also encapsulates the paint, reducing the risk of airborne particles, which is particularly reassuring when lead paint might be involved.

So I bought some, not believing for one moment that it would work.  We spread the gel on thickly overnight and woke up the next morning to find this  

Which a bit of work with a scraper (the paint by this stage is all soft and gloopy) and a wire brush in the grout, soon turned into this.  They still need another clean and a wax, but I think they’re pretty much there.  And no paint to be seen.

So what do you think?

Should I persevere?  They’re not the most beautiful bricks in the world and I’m a bit worried about the whole thing seeming too heavy and dark (will definitely get rid of the horrible dark stove at some point), but I think they have a certain charm.

If I do continue, has anyone got any ideas as to what I could put into those three recesses?  Something interesting and fun which will lighten the whole thing up and break up the big expanse of brick.

I’m currently thinking something syroco, spray painted lime green or tangerine (thanks to Pink Loves Brown for the idea).  In fact something like those bronze panels she’s just bought would be perfect.  (I haven’t run this past the Husband yet though).  But has anyone got any other thoughts?  Tiles?  Plaster reliefs? Ironwork? Mosaic?

Excuse the prosaic title of this post, but I really want people to be able to find this post when they search.



  1. kate (pm) says

    1. Deck looks terrifc – congrats & enjoy!
    2. I say persevere w/ fireplace paint removal. I’m not sure yet what to suggest how to redo, but at the very least those bricks look MUCH better than the red paint. If you really don’t like the brick, a light weather whitewash is still attractive while you decide the fireplaces ultimate look.

  2. roundabout says

    The red paint looks pretty gloopy. If you strip the fireplace and decide you don’t like the brick, you could paint it white at the point and it will look much smoother and nicer.

  3. says

    I vote for continuing to strip the bricks. That product is worth its weight in gold to get the paint out of the grout! Once you’ve got the brick revealed, you might want to live with it for a month or so before you decide what to do. I might suggest looking into arts & crafts style or artisan tiles and accents. Tile fire place fronts were very common in the era your house was built, and if the brick is level and the front not warped, you should be able to tile on top. Even an artistic mosaic or broken pieces of pottery or art glass mosaic might be fun if that’s something that appeals to your style sense and if it is done well. I love those old Swedish tile ovens from out of Carl Larsson paintings myself, and Morris & Co. tiles and knockoffs. Where I used to live in Berkely there were a number of artists making lovely custom tiles.
    Also, if you do decide to get rid of your Jotul stove, I might be interested to buy it from you. I hope to redo our fireplace in the next year or so. Thanks,

  4. Christopher says

    Found this page while doing a Google search about SoyGel. Saw your pics which leads me to another topic – how well does your fireplace insert work? Does it adequately heat your home? There aren’t many user reviews out there.

  5. Tony says

    This stuff is great. DO NOT let your kids drink it. If you think your wife is a nag…wait till she comes home to a dead toddler. You’ll NEVER live it down. Women!

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