Brick is a natural material that’s built to last; however some routine maintenance such as occasional cleaning, checking for water damage and repointing is required. These simple tips will keep the brick and your home looking like new:
Once a year use a garden hose with a spray nozzle to remove any loose dirt. If there is a particular area that requires little to no sunlight, be on the lookout for moss, mold, or mildew – all of which should be nipped in the bud seasonally.
A solution of one cup bleach mixed with a gallon of water can be applied to these areas with a scrub brush, but apply this mixture after soaking down the brick first. Use a natural or synthetic brush – wire brushes can leave traces of steel behind that will rust and discolor the brick.
Checking for Water Damage
Water damage can be caused by rain splashing back against the brick into the mortar and causing the joints to crack. It can also be caused by ground water seeping up from below, leaving a tide line. The moisture will eventually evaporate, but over time the salt crystals leftover will cause the bricks and mortar to disintegrate. Look for water damage every year and budget for some repointing every 5-10 years.
Repointing is necessary when the mortar joints become soft or the mortar itself disintegrates. This process carefully removes the mortar without disturbing the bricks around it. This process is best left to professionals.
If you have a historic home, you will want to pay close attention to the color of the mortar to ensure that it matches. Often, a contractor will take a sample to procure an exact match.
If your brick home was once painted, paint removal can be quite an extensive process, but well worth it. Chemical processes work best, and again, should be left to the professionals. Sandblasting should never be the preferred method, as it causes lasting damage to the beauty and integrity of brick. Before any treatment is done, take the time to spot test the process on one area first. Too high of a concentration can etch the surface of the brick, damage window glass, or cause discoloration.