Although brick is among the most durable and long-lasting exterior home coverings, it can still become damaged over time. In most cases, problems happen on and around mortar joints or involve topical staining on brick pieces. Generally, brick siding can be repaired, rather than replaced. As a matter of fact, homeowners are often pleasantly surprised to discover they can fix issues with their exterior brick walls on their own instead of hiring professionals. In this guide, you’ll discover how to repair a few common problems.
Fixing brick mortar issues
- To re-point brick mortar, which requires the removal of old mortar and the laying of new, the first thing you need to do is purchase weather-resistant type N mortar mix at your local hardware or home improvement retailer. When you get home, mix the product by following the instructions on the label.
- Use a cold chisel and a small hammer to remove the top ½ inch of crumbled or cracked mortar. Then, use a wire brush to sweep the space, eliminating any remaining debris.
- Lightly spray the damaged mortar joint with water, then apply your newly mixed mortar with a trowel. Make sure it is completely tapped into the space and smooth the top gently.
- Let the mortar cure for at least a few hours before using a jointer to shape the new joint to coordinate with your existing ones; typically, they dip slightly inward, but it’s a good idea to double-check your walls prior to making any adjustments to the joint you just created.
- Remove any dust or extra mortar using a damp rag, then keep the new joint dampened for the next 4 days. This helps the mixture properly set and eliminates the risk of cracks.
Getting rid of paint on brick surfaces
Whether you want to remove a small splotch of paint or a full wall of paint from an exterior brick surface, you will go through the same process. First, use a garden hose to spray the entire painted area. Then, apply a solution that contains water and 2 pounds of tri-sodium phosphate or heavy-duty detergent. Once it has penetrated the brick, scrub the painted area with a stiff brush. If you scrub the section several times to no avail, consider using a water-based paint thinner instead, but make sure to test it on a non-visible area first!
Getting water spots off of bricks
Over time, water from various sources, including hoses, sprinkler systems, and children’s toys, can leave spots on brick exteriors. To get rid of these unsightly stains, invest in an acid-based brick cleaning solution. The label on this product will probably advise you to lay plastic tarps along your home’s foundation, wear rubber gloves and proper safety glasses, and use a nylon-bristled brush to apply the cleaner. Follow all of the instructions on your cleaning solution to not only achieve the best results, but protect yourself and your family in the process.
Getting rid of efflorescence on brick surfaces
Efflorescence is a white powdery build-up that often shows-up on bricks and other forms of masonry over time. Efflorescence itself is easy to remove using a stiff wire brush, but in order to stop the substance from returning time and time again, you need to fix whatever caused it. Typically, efflorescence is the result of excess moisture, including leaks and extreme humidity. If you live in a very wet, moist area of the Carolinas, efflorescence may be caused by your climate, but otherwise, you need to look for problems with the structure of your home; this is best done by a professional.
These suggestions should help you maintain and care for your home’s brick exterior to the very best of your abilities. If, however, you should ever require professional help for brick upkeep, don’t hesitate to hire a contractor in your area to handle a project for you. That’s what experts are there for, after all!