Brick. It is one of the most popular building materials in the world, and for good reason. It’s strong, durable, and has a classic look that never goes out of style. But like any material, natural weathering, soiling and staining can take their toll, leaving your brick looking dull and lifeless.
While extensive cleaning and maintenance is best left to the professionals, it is still important for homeowners to maintain and prevent further damage to their bricks. Not only does this keep your brick surfaces aesthetically pleasing but ensures long-lasting structural integrity as well.
Whether you have a brick fence, wall, walkway or patio, it is important to know how dirt can damage your brick surface and what restoration options are available to you so that you can keep your brick, and property, looking its best!
Why Do Brick Façades Become Dirty?
Exterior brick surfaces are constantly exposed to the elements. Such a build-up of dirt, stains and debris often goes unnoticed as it accumulates slowly over time. However, once cleaned a stark (and satisfying!) difference can be seen. Common signs that your brick is dirty include:
- Mould and mildew
- Dark streaks or stains
- A chalky white powder (efflorescence)
- Dirty and dusty mortar joints
There are a number of culprits when it comes to dirt and stains on brick and masonry façades. Similarly, the recent development of localised soiling may also indicate a more serious problem that should be addressed as soon as possible. Additional reasons include:
- Ineffective water drainage
- Damaged or Old Pointing
- Painted Brick
- Corrosive metal
- Organic Growth
Defective Water Drainage
Brick, while durable, is porous. This means that water can penetrate the surface, and cause damage to the building. Water damage typically occurs behind or below areas where there is ineffective water drainage. This can be caused by blocked downpipes and gutters where water is prevented from running away from the building or internal plumbing systems that are leaking or broken.
If left untreated, unsightly patches with grey or white powdery or flaking lines will begin to develop around the problem areas. Similarly, if permanently damp, natural salts will be drawn from the brick to the surface, inevitably causing irreversible damage.
Regular gutter cleaning and maintenance can remove any organic matter that has built up to help prevent this type of damage. This ensures that water is able to drain away quickly and efficiently before it has a chance to cause any damage.
Damaged or Incorrect Pointing
Over time, weathering and decay can cause voids between the joints of bricks, allowing the undesirable ingress of water and moisture. These voids need to be repaired with fresh mortar, a process known as ‘pointing’.
Much like ineffective water drainage, incorrect or damaged pointing can cause significant damage to a brick façade. If the joint is too wide, rainwater will be able to penetrate deep into the masonry, causing extensive structural damage, efflorescence and the growth of mould and mildew.
With that said, if the pointing of a brick surface is damaged or has deteriorated, it will need to be replaced. When undergoing repair work, it is often best to properly clean the surface to ensure any loose mortar is removed and will also help identify any additional problem areas.
Brick painting is a common practice to change the look of a building’s exterior without having to replace the entire façade. However, paint can impact building performance, especially when done to hide dirt and other problems. Using the incorrect pain does not allow the bricks to breathe and prevents moisture from escaping, causing long-term damage and mould growth.
Many buildings will have metal components. These range from gutters and downpipes to decorative elements such as gates, fencing and balcony railings. Over time, these metal fixtures will start to corrode. They should be kept as dry as possible so they are protected from the build-up of corrosion which can lead to staining of the bricks.
There are a number of ways to keep your brick and masonry façade from corrosion and rust stains. Regular cleaning and maintenance of metal components is the key to preventing dirt and stains from becoming a problem. Similarly, opt for non-corrosive materials as they are less likely to cause damage over time.
Atmospheric pollution is one of the most common reasons brick surfaces get dirty, and one that is impossible to avoid. Buildings located near busy roads and towns are particularly at risk for this type of dirt.
To combat the effects of pollution, it is important to regularly clean the brick and masonry façade. This will help remove any dirt and grime that has built up over time. Additionally, a sealant can be applied to the surface to provide an extra layer of protection against the elements.
Often organic growth can be seen as enhancing the appearance of a building or exterior surface. However, if it is not monitored and controlled, it can cause serious damage and unsightly problems.
Plants such as wall creepers can cause retain dampness and moisture on walls, destabilise water drainage systems, disturb eaves and cause overall structural damage to walls and foundations. Growth such as mould, lichen, algae and moss are often structurally harmless when in small areas, but can be unsightly if left to grow and areas.
To ensure reduced damage, it is important to regularly remove organic growth. This will also help improve the aesthetic appearance of the surface as well as ensure that it remains structurally sound.
Restoring & Cleaning Your Brick: Top Tips
Like any exterior surface, brick and masonry façades will require some level of maintenance and care to keep them in top condition. Here are three top tips to help you restore and protect your brickwork:
The key to preventing costly brick problems to by spotting them as early as possible This will help reduce exp[ensive repairs and prevent extensive damage. As such, it is important to regularly inspect the condition of your brickwork and masonry façade. Look for any cracks, holes or damaged mortar joints. Additional factors to consider include:
- Bowing and bulging (often found in foundations and walls)
- Crumbling and cracking
- Moss, mildew, and mold
- The face of the brick is flaking off
- Plant growth
If you spot any problems, make sure to get them repaired as soon as possible.
Regular Pressure Cleaning
It’s no secret that bricks and stones get dirty. Over time, this build-up of dirt and grime can cause long-term damage to the surface. To prevent this, it is important to regularly pressure clean your brickwork and masonry façade. This will help remove any dirt, dust, and debris that has accumulated over time.
Spot cleaning can be easy to do, but when there is extensive dirt and stains, it is often best to enlist the services of professional pressure cleaners. Not only do they have the skills and experience to get the job done right, but they also have the right equipment to ensure a thorough clean without the risk of damage.
The best part? You don’t have to do anything. Let the experts handle it while you kick back and relax!
Whether it seeps up from the ground or rains down, water can damage your property’s brickwork and surfaces. Fortunately, sealant is a great way to protect your investment.
Sealant works by creating a barrier between the brick and any moisture, which helps to prevent moisture from seeping in and causing damage. It can also help protect against stubborn stains and UV rays that can fade the rich stonework on a building’s facade.
Keep Your Property in Top Shape
Brick and masonry façades are a popular choice for both commercial and residential properties. Not only are they durable and low-maintenance, but they also add character and charm.
However, like any exterior surface, they will require some level of care to keep them looking their best.
By following the tips above, you can help to restore and protect your brickwork, ensuring that it looks great for years to come. And if you ever need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to reach out to the professionals!
Water Attack Pressure Washing are your go-to pressure washing professionals. With years of experience, we know how to get the job done right. Get in touch today to see how we can help you!