Bricks are made from clay. Thus, their natural composition gives them a classic earthy finish. It also makes them very strong and durable. Brick structures often outlast those made out of wood, cement, and other materials. Some brick structures date as far back as several centuries.
However, over time, brick structures start to show signs of wear and tear due to exposure to extreme temperature and moisture. The bricks take on a dull finish, and the mortar may begin to crumble. The best way to handle this problem is to clean and fix the old and broken bricks. Brick restoration is also a sure way of increasing the value of a piece of property.
If you own or live in a brick house, there are some things you ought to know to keep it well maintained. This also applies to masonry walls. Nothing makes a house look shabbier and dilapidated than masonry repairs that are not carried out properly. A couple of basic things will help you avoid such.
For instance, some houses appear quite different after the repointing of the bricks. The mortar’s colour is altered, and its joints are bigger than they used to be initially. The attractive patina of the old bricks has disappeared. What kind of explanation can be offered for such a distinct change?
Things To Take Note Of
During The Process Of Brick Restoration
The first thing to note in the process of brickwork restoration is that the replacement mortar must be compatible with the previous one. This compatibility is essential to avoid irreparable damage to the bricks. When the replacement mortar is incompatible with the previous one, it could cause the bricks to deteriorate, crack, or rot. These problems also happen when incompatible paint or stucco is applied to old buildings when refurbishing them.
It is best to use traditional mortars to avoid compatibility problems. An example of conventional mortars is the lime mortar. They often breathe new life into old masonry. Although the work may appear unattractive, so long as the materials are suitable, then there is nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, one may have an attractive work made from unsuitable materials that could damage the bricks. Or one could have an unattractive job made with sub-standard materials. This is a loss on both sides.
It is also pertinent to ensure that the colours of the new and old mortar are matching. According to Jeff Price of Virginia Lime Works, one way to ensure this is to match the colour of the new mortar with the interior of the old mortar. This way, one will match the actual colour of the mortar, free from the effects of environmental changes and age. The bricks may look a little different initially, but everything will blend eventually. A primary advantage of this technique is that should the bricks ever be cleaned; the old and new mortar would look virtually the same. Simply put, one would avoid matching problems.
Surface Treatments In Brick Restoration
Surface Treatments are often used to protect the host masonry from damage. However, they are also used as decorative finishes. Examples of these treatments include stucco, colour wash, limewash, and pencilling.
Stucco offers more protection than other surface treatments like paint or wash. It also makes for a beautiful decorative finish. It is usually ruled out to make it appear like cut stone. Stucco is often mixed with a coating of limewash.
Colourwash is usually used on masonry. It is a combination of water, glue, pigment, and potassium alum. It is very much like the fixing agents used in dyeing wool. Colourwash is often used to provide extra protection to soft lime mortar. It is also used to clear up mortar smears or stains that may be on the brickwork. Colourwash is quite decorative too.
Limewash is a mixture of water and lime, and any other thing that may have been added to enhance its durability. Some of them include milk, salt, and blood. Limewash is used as a protective layer to masonry.
Pencilling is a coating made from glue, water, and chalk. It is painted over brickwork, with or without colourwash, to protect the walls. It may also be mixed with linseed oil, or it could be painted over it. Linseed oil is used to add a level of water shedding.
Protecting Brickwork From Damage Caused By Moisture
When paint bubbles up on the inside of plaster walls, it is a sign that moisture is seeping through the walls. The solution to this problem is not repointing as many people think. In fact, it has nothing to do with repointing. Old masonry has breathable properties. When regular paint is used as a finish, it may inhibit the breathing properties. This inhibition could lead to moisture retention, thus causing the paint to bubble. The simplest way to avoid this problem is to use traditional paint like limewash or distemper.
When repointing, it is important to be cautious about changing the exterior brick’s character. The first thing to do when repointing is to scrutinise the structure. It is essential to be aware of the building’s unique points and its intricate details.
Examine the original details of the joints, such as bird’s beak, overhand struck joints, double struck, etc. This examination would help you understand how the mortar joints were finished. Check for surface treatments that may still be there or may have faded over time. These examinations are essential to ensure great work.
Repainting Painted Bricks
If the brickwork has been previously painted, one must carefully examine the paint before doing anything to it. Using regular or modern paint can cause bricks and mortar to retain moisture. This could also cause spalling and other damages, especially if the moisture freezes.
If you choose to repaint the brickwork, it is best to remove the old paint first. Even if repainting would cover the damage, it will not take it away.
Replacing Missing Or Damaged Bricks
You don’t need to worry if your old brick building has a couple missing or damaged bricks. The solution is simple. Examine the old bricks to be sure of their colour and texture. Then, consult architectural salvage companies that keep bricks of demolished historic buildings. Also, several masonry supply companies sell a wide range of products. Some of these products are bricks made in the same way they have been made for years.
It is very likely for you to find the kind of bricks you want at one of both places. And if you don’t, you may find one that would easily blend with the old bricks.
Over time, brickwork may become stained by graffiti, oil, or paint. Weeds and other plants and algae may even begin to grow on their surface. This would make the bricks look dirty and unattractive. Thus, they would need to be cleaned.
The process of brick cleaning may be a bit tedious and time-consuming. Also, you need to have the right equipment to ensure a job well done.
You may need to hire professional services, but this is not to say you cannot do it by yourself. The first thing to do is to loosen and dislodge the dirt particles. All you need is a brush. Afterwards, you need to scrub the bricks clean. You may use only soap and water, but that might not do the work if the stains are tough. So it is advisable to get a masonry cleaner instead.
It is best to buy a masonry cleaner from a masonry company. This is because they sell specialised cleaning products. Purchasing a masonry cleaner from a hardware store is another option. However, it is much safer to buy one from a masonry company because they would be able to give you one tailored to your needs.
More Tips For Brick Restoration
1.Ensure that you have the right equipment. Before you start the process of restoring your bricks, make sure that you are armed with the appropriate tools for the work. Not only would it save time, but it would also guarantee a beautiful work afterwards.
2.Don’t “try your hand at it”. If you lack the necessary skills and equipment needed, then you might need to hire a professional. Do not bumble your way through as you could cause irreparable damage to the structure.
3.Do your research: Before you start the process of restoring your brickwork, examine the structure properly. Do your research to know what the mortar is made of, and the type of coating on the bricks. Find out what kind of things are compatible with your bricks.
4.Test your products beforehand. Before you apply any product to your brickwork, test it out. Be sure of what it does first. This would help you avoid making mistakes that you cannot redeem on a large scale.
5.Ensure that the masonry is clean before you start work. This would help you see its details correctly.