Q&A / 

Remove Adhesive From Brick Fireplace Thinset

Quick Column Summary:

  • How to remove adhesive/thinset from brick fireplace
  • Try adhesive removers
  • Thinset must be chiseled off

Danielle Torkensen is a new homeowner in Bloomington, California. She inherited a mess where the previous homeowner, well let her tell you:

"I am a recent new homeowner & the previous owners messed up our brick fireplace.  It seems they tried to use some sort of adhesive/cement and tried to put some tile or other sort of covering. 

What I'm wondering is how can we take all that leftover cement off and whether we could use air stone, which is a type of veneer, to restore our fireplace so it will look great."

Danielle, if the adhesive is thinset mortar, it's going to be very hard to remove it. Thinset is usually gray in color, but can be white too. When dry, it resembles mortar you'd find between brick. Thinset contains Portland cement which is why it's so hard.

Tile can also be set with organic mastic which is like cake icing. It's smooth but it can dry hard. There are adhesive removers that will help soften it. They resemble paint strippers.

You can't soften thinset. It needs to be chiseled or ground off.

If you're going to put a new veneer over the brick, you may not have to grind off the thinset! Just knock off any high spots.


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