Brick is a timeless look. It’s also durable and can even increase the resale value of a property. With normal weather conditions and the right maintenance, bricks can last for decades. It’s not hard to keep your brick looking its very best unless you’ve failed to give it proper attention. Brick is vulnerable to moisture and can degrade over a period of time, especially if it’s subject to freeze/thaw cycles, so it’s important to give your property’s brick a little visual inspection every now and again.
What to check
With your interior walls, look for any sign of damage or moisture. For the exterior walls, you’re going to have spend a little more time. Keep an eye on the following:
Plant growth: Cut any plants, like ivy, as close to the wall’s surface as you can. Don’t pull, as you could damage the brick.
“Weep” holes: The weep holes are small openings at the bottom of the brickwork that let moisture drain out of your wall. If they’re plugged, clean them out.
Efflorescence: This white, salty deposit on the brick’s surface is a sign that water is penetrating the brick. Use a brush with water or a stiff brush to remove it. You’ll need a chemical cleaner if hard deposits have formed.
Mortar: Mortar isn’t as durable as brick, but you can maintain it by repointing. Chip some of the old mortar out, leaving a depth of one-half to three-fourths an inch. Use water to dampen the joints and repack with your new mortar, wiping off any excess with a damp fabric cloth. This is usually done about once every 25 years.
Choosing new bricks and mortar
If you have to repair a wall, it’s important that you find bricks and mortar that is similar to what’s already in there. Your property’s location and age can help you pinpoint which products to buy.
To seal or not to seal
Some experts recommend a chemical sealant or coating to prevent water from penetrating your bricks, but this is still a contested topic in brick circles. If you decide to seal, there are two main types for you to choose from:
Film: Films go over the brick surface, helping to prevent water and markings from sticking. They usually leave a darkened or glossy appearance. While films do keep water out, they also hold water in, preventing the brick from breathing. Only use films if the brickwork is dry.
Penetrant: A penetrant sealant gets under the brick’s surface and coats its pores, helping to repel water. These sealants are translucent and do allow the brick to breathe, so they’re generally the better option in cold, moist conditions.
Just ten minutes of your time once a year can help you keep your brick looking brand new, so don’t forget to add a brick inspection to your usual maintenance and upkeep routine!