Britain is home to an abundance of beautiful and historically significant buildings. In England alone, there are around 500,000 listed buildings according to Historic England. Without the correct maintenance many of these buildings will begin to deteriorate. Historic building restoration and maintenance preserves these high-value buildings for the future. However, restoring historic buildings is expensive,… Read More
Most Common Causes Of Brick Decay
Bricks deteriorating and decaying can be a serious concern for a building’s safety and integrity. The older the building, the more you may need to worry about the state of your brickwork and understanding what causes brick decay, spalling and damage, can be the first step in preventing it. Brick restoration is possible in many cases but first, let’s look at some of the most common causes of brick decay.
Wet bricks are never a good thing. Water and moisture can lead to brick decay and spalling in a number of ways.
If rainwater constantly directly hits the surface of a brick, it will degrade over time. Drainage issues can also be problematic and cause brick decay. If drips and leaks consistently spill down over surfaces the wall, chimney and other brickwork will erode as time passes.
Finally, if water is absorbed by consistently wet soil in the foundations or around your building, the bricks can be eroded from below. This is known as rising damp and is quite common when looking at brick restoration and repair. Moisture can be extremely damaging to brickwork especially if it hasn’t been cared for properly.
We’ve discussed why painting brickwork is a bad idea, but this also applies to covering bricks in other sealants.
Sealants are often sold as a solution to stop water getting inside of masonry, but it usually just does not work. Brick can naturally absorb and release water through its natural pores, but this process is limited if not stopped entirely when a sealant is used.
Stopping the bricks from “breathing” and naturally expelling moisture means the water is trapped within the bricks and may be stuck there indefinitely, damaging the integrity of the brick, and eroding it slowly over time. There are breathable sealants on the market.
Low Grade Bricks and Workmanship
If you have had low quality brick repair and restoration carried out, then you may soon see the damage this can cause. Perhaps workman have replaced your hand-crafted bricks with cheaper, lower grade alternatives and this can impact the overall structural integrity of your building. Similarly, if bricks are improperly laid or out of place, even if only a single brick, can lead to further decay and significant damage.
Incorrect Cleaning Processes
The right type of cleaning for your building will depend on the age of the bricks, the age of the building and many other factors. High-pressure cleaning is not the correct process for every kind of brick. Some materials may require a more specialist, sympathetic, sensitive cleaning solution such as steam cleaning, to ensure the bricks are thoroughly cleaned without risk of damage.
Brick repair and restoration can be a long process and for many buildings it can be avoided if the façade is properly cared for. The structural integrity of historic, period properties and commercial buildings can be reliant upon the masonry so ensuring it is cared for and decay is managed, if not avoided, is essential.
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