Today we’ll talk a little about a typical restoration type of a project often managed by a general contractor. Although the described brick restoration procedures are basically identical in all parts of US, masonry structures located in areas with fluctuating weather (warm during the summer and cold/freezing in winter months, suffer the most. Described below tips are based on a feedback from a few masonry contractors tuckpointing Chicago brick walls for decades.
We all know that bricks are excellent building materials, but the truth is that after many years of being exposed to the elements the joints will crumble and the bricks are going to fall out of the old mortar. In the end, water will penetrate the resulting gap, destroying the material.
Washing of the brick facade
If the bricks are just lightly soiled, then they can be easily cleaned up using pressured water. It’s recommended that this treatment is considered when the outside temperature doesn’t drop below freezing during the procedure and for a few days after . When cleaning the bricks, it’s recommended that you don’t use tools with metal tips and wire brushes. Prior to beginning to clean the bricks, make sure that you have wiped the brick by hand using either half a brick or if it’s more comfortable for you, a wooden trowel.
The patches of clinker need to be carefully removed using water and if you have the time, you should leave them so they are dried naturally. The water can be both hot or cold, but it’s best recommended that you use hot water since it can also remove the oily residues from the brick. Unless specified by the manufacturer, you should never add detergent to the water.
Removal of organic raid
If the brick is covered in organic coating, then you should add some disinfectant to the water prior to using it to wash the bricks. Most people add bleach which is highly effective and also recommended. Keep in mind that this is a procedure which you need to repeat multiple times.
Chemical cleaning of the facade
A facade that is covered in thick layers of dirt or cladding clinker bricks is recommended to be washed using special cleaning solutions available on the market. One thing to keep in mind is that most of the times these solutions are going to be corrosive, so they are harmful to people. Because of that, they should be used by strictly following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Prior to making use of these solutions to wash the bricks, it’s best that you test them on a small area. Start with the bottom of the facade and after you work your way up to the wall, use water to flush the dirt away. If you plan on cleaning all other parts of the facade which is made using other materials besides bricks, be sure to protect them.
Rubber band ligation bricks
This is a special type of cleaning method that’s most of the times used when restoring monuments and what makes it special is the fact that it doesn’t use chemicals or water sprayed at high pressure. In fact, this method involves using vegetable powders which are carefully sprayed onto the surface of the bricks in order to dissolve or absorb the dirt and make it easier to remove it. Using this method, it’s very simple to clean very delicate and sensitive structures.
Removing paint from bricks
When it comes to removing paint from the brick, it’s mostly a painstakingly time consuming effort that cannot be completed without destroying the brick’s outer layer. So for example, one way to approach this would be to lay the brick on one side and then use half a brick in order to rub it against its bottom.
But if you want to remove paint from easier and faster, then you can try to sand blast it. Bear in mind though that while this is a very effective method, it will destroy the brick’s surface.
Also you should take lead paint into your consideration, basically any old paint removal process should be proceeded by laboratory testing of a paint sample for lead presence. If such is detected, paint removal should be performed by a licensed contractor only.
There are other methods you can consider for cleaning the bricks and probably one of the most effective ones is to purchase a special type of paste that allows you to remove old paint from walls and then apply it on the brick. However, this is easier said than done, so if you’re looking for a simple way of renovating a brick, then you’d better repaint it.
Replacement of deteriorated bricks
When a brick is damaged, it’s going to undoubtedly start to gather moisture and when this happens, the brick’s inner structure will turn into a ticking time bomb. It’s not like it’s going to explode, but it will suffer many internal changes that severely impact its durability. Sometimes, people will want to purchase bricks recovered from buildings that were demolished and that is because they are much cheaper.
While this is a good way to save a lot of money, the bricks need to be carefully inspected to ensure they are still solid enough to be used for at least a few decades. To check their quality, use a metal hammer and gently tap one of them. If you hear a clear metallic sound, then that is good news and the brick is still in great shape. If you don’t hear such a sound, then the brick should be disregarded since it’s of poor quality.
Repair of joints in the brick facade
No one will deny that repairing damaged joints is definitely a very tedious process, but you certainly need to consider doing so if you cannot afford any other types of repairs. However, before you go ahead and lay the new joints, you should remove the damaged parts on the old ones. Proceed with cutting the old seams in the middle of their width and then go ahead and remove the damaged parts to a depth of around 2x the joint’s width.
To make sure the repair is carried out properly, make sure that you being considering it from the top of the wall. Don’t apply the new mortar unless you have remove the old dusted and loose mortar properly. You can use a wire brush to do that.
As you can see, restoring a house brick elevation is not as hard as you thought, but you certainly need to follow these steps carefully and be patient. This will take you some time, especially if it’s the first time you’re doing this, but the good news is that at the end of the day, the results will have been worthy of your efforts.