Masonry and brick repair/restoration is something we have an eye for, and a service we excel at. It’s somewhat of an art and a skill we have developed over time. Our primary masonry restoration techniques involve chemical cleaning, rebuilding, replacement and tuck pointing. Applying a combination of any one of these techniques can greatly revive an old, worn-down structure and give it years of life.
A large part of the brick and masonry restoration process is giving it a healthy cleaning. Often times this hasn’t been done in many years and this one simple technique can shave off decades of visible aging.
So how do we clean the brick? Well, since brick is porous in nature, we actually use a fairly strong acidic formula that is meant to draw the dirt and grime from the pores. The acid is very effective at cleaning the masonry, but can be very irritating to the skin so we always use protective gear and goggles as a precaution.
Once the acid has been directly applied to the brick, we scrub with pressure to get out as much dirt as possible. We’ll then use a pressure washer to make sure both the acid and dirt has been completely washed away. If we still haven’t achieved the level of clean we are after, we can either clean the area again or we can apply a higher concentration of cleaning mixture to get out any stubborn stains. Once the site looks clean, we do another round of power washing to get rid of excess acid and allow the area time to dry.
A chemical cleaning applied to your masonry goes a very long way and does a beautiful job at reviving something that was thought to be lost.
If a structure cannot be salvaged then the way around it is to rebuild it using new or already existing material. The decision to rebuild has to be based on the integrity of the existing material. If it shows excessive signs of wear and a short life span then it is likely that the structure will be taken down and rebuilt
Here are 3 common reasons to rebuild a chimney:
- White bricks - although water is necessary for life on earth, it’s arguably the worst thing that can be introduced into a home, including your brick and brick structures. When water is absorbed into the bricks it is known as efflorescence, and when this happens it pulls all the salts and minerals to the surface of the brick. After the water evaporates you’re left with a white film at the top. This can be washed off but it’s not the cleaning of the brick you should be concerned about, its the process of efflorescence you should be concerned about.
- Compromised crown - the crown at the top of the chimney is probably the part that takes the most beating as it is constantly exposed to weather and rain/sleet/snow, but in doing that it also protects the rest of the chimney. When the crown shows obvious signs of wear and damage, it’s not uncommon for the damage to have spread to other areas. As soon as you notice damage to the crown, a professional should be called in to inspect the area.
- Spalling - this can sometimes go hand-in-hand with white bricks, but not always. This occurs when moisture enters the brick and freezes due to low temperatures. When this happens the water expands causing small tears and cracks inside the brick. When the temperatures increase and the ice melts it makes it easier during subsequent freezes to allow water to re-enter and freeze, but this time the freeze (and cracks) expands even more. Over time, the cracks inside the brick have caused so much damage that it disintegrates and the structure of the brick is now severely compromised and can no longer be restored or used.
If it’s determined that the masonry can in fact be replaced, instead of tearing down the structure and completely rebuilding it, then the masonry units are removed and replaced with another that is very similar in size, shape, color, texture and density.
Replacement is an involved process and the existing brick has to first be removed using a portable circular saw, then chiseling out the remaining material until everything has been broken off and removed. Once we have a clear workspace to work with then the mortar will be mixed and layered onto the bottom and sides of the entry. The replacement brick gets inserted and more mortar is used to fill in any potential gaps that might exist. We pack the mortar in as tight as possible to make sure there is no give. The brick is cleaned off and the mortar is left to dry with time.
This is the process of repairing mortar joints between bricks so that it doesn’t continue to be eroded through the elements and aggressive weather. This is an important maintenance procedure and should be inspected on an annual basis.
Why should you tuck point? When the mortar joints between bricks has deteriorated over the years, it turns to we weakened state and allows moisture to enter and penetrate the structure. When tuckpointing has been done, a waterproof layer of protection is applied and extends the life of the structure.
Tuckpointing is also less costly than letting the elements deteriorate the masonry to the point where the only solution is to rebuild the structure. This is a much more costly solution and not ideal.
When is tuckpointing not an option? When you notice that the bricks are loose or that they are flaking off then the likely solution does not include tuckpointing, probably only leaving you with an option to rebuild or replace. Don’t let it get to that point, tuckpointing is a much more cost effective solution and it leaves your bricks or stone looking very nice.
Types of Masonry Services We Provide
- Terracotta Repair
- Parapet Walls
- Chimney Rebuilding
- Shelf Angles Replacement
- Concrete Patching
New Masonry Construction
- Blue Stone
- Fire Pits
- Glass Blocks
- Indoor and Outdoor Fireplaces
- Natural and Cultured Stone
- Masonry repair
- Chimney Repair and Rebuild
- Efflorescence Removal
- Masonry Cleaning