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Don’t let your brickwork break your budget with these maintenance tips

Posted by Kate Donnelly | Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Don't let your brickwork break your budget with these maintenance tips As it turns out, what your parents told you growing up wasn't necessarily true: It's not just what's on the inside that counts. At least, that's true when you're talking about your building.

Your building's exterior is just as important a building maintenance concern as its interior or any other part of your infrastructure. Because buildings can be made of so many different types of materials, from glass to wood to stone to brick, choosing the best maintenance method can be challenging if you don't have the right background. In particular, while brick can lend your building a stately and refine appearance, this material can also bring its own baggage in the form of unique maintenance issues.

Don't let poor building maintenance ruin your otherwise gorgeous brick facade. Follow these brick maintenance tips.

Keep it clean

This is perhaps the most basic brick maintenance tip, but it's an important one. Believe it or not, there are many different methods you can use to clean your building's brick face, and which one you choose depends on factors ranging from materials you have available to the type of brick you have in your building. 

The Workshop recommended a few easy-to-concoct recipes you can throw together with common household items. For example, you can create a decent brick-cleaning solution using nothing more than salt, soap and water. A new method of cleaning involving dry sandblasting is becoming more popular with maintenance teams and facility managers. These methods are preferable to many because they don't use acid, which can damage the brick.

Removing paint from bricks requires a few of its own unique considerations, though the process isn't much more complicated than regular cleaning. In general, chemical solvents and paint-thinners are safe to use for this purpose - as long as the brick underneath is in good condition. Just be sure to test the solution on a small area first so you can determine if any discoloration or other damage will occur.

Keep it dry

One well-known benefit of brick is the material's impressive longevity. If properly laid, your building's brick facade can last you decades. Unless, of course, other factors come into play. Water damage is one of the most persistent supervillains when it comes to building maintenance, and brick is no exception. 

Water can launch its assault on your brickwork from both above and below. In the case of the former, the constant assault of rain beating against the brick can lead to water seeping into the mortar, wearing it away in a process called splash back, Bob Vila reported. Additionally, you should also be on the lookout for a condition known as rising damp. This occurs when groundwater seeps up into your brickwork. Even if this water evaporates, it can leave behind salt deposits that can damage the mortar. 

It's possible to waterpoof your brick, but be careful in how you approach this. You may be tempted to use a sealant, but Brick Doctor noted that this can actually trap existing moisture inside, having the opposite effect. Instead, consider using a breathable water repellant. It's advisable to speak to a professional regarding the upkeep and waterproofing of your brickwork.

Fix existing issues

While brick itself tends to be resilient, the mortar that holds your facade together is a different story. You'll likely need to repair the mortar and grout to keep your brickwork in good shape, in a process called repointing.

Repointing is a process best left to professionals, as doing the job improperly can be worse than not doing it at all. When brickwork is repointed, old corroded mortar is scraped away and replaced. Bob Vila suggested that when repointing, the depth of the new mortar layer should be twice the width of the joint for extra security.