How to Care for a Brick Wall

When it comes to surfaces around your home, either outside or inside, there is nothing quite like brick. It has a beautiful surface that carries with it a classic look unlike anything else you might have around the house. With that though, brick requires some special care in comparison to more generic surfaces like vinyl or wood siding. 

Most special care required for brick is going to be due to its particular properties. First, there’s the porous nature of brick surfaces. Brick is formed by bonding clay, sand, lime, or other materials into a regular masonry unit. This essentially means bricks are made up of rock and soil, which is why rather than a smooth surface, you end up with an irregular surface full of holes. This construction is part of what endows brick with its rugged and classic look as well as allows brick to be more durable than surfaces like vinyl, it also makes it hold on to stains more readily and make it harder to clean. Many homeowners will choose to seal or surface brick. By spreading sealing agent over the brick, it will offer some resistance to stains, preventing them from penetrating below the surface. The sealing agent doesn’t last forever though, and will need to be reapplied on a regular basis. How often will depend on the specific sealant you’ve used. 

The porous nature of brick also makes it more complicated to clean. Particularly if the brick hasn’t been properly sealed, stains and algae growth can penetrate below the surface, making cleaning more difficult. In some cases, you can deal with stains like this by scrubbing the walls using a mixture of bleach and water, applied with a scrub brush. Be careful to not use anything too coarse for scrubbing, as it can chip away at the brick surface. In some cases, a harsher chemical might be used, muriatic acid being a common choice. This also cleans unique stains called “efflorescence” which is caused by water leeching mineral deposits out of the brick and onto the surface. It appears as a dusty white substance that builds up on brick or concrete surfaces and isn’t easily cleaned without the use of chemical treatment like muriatic acid. 

One final note to remember when it comes to caring for brick walls or other surfaces is the occasional need for “repointing.” The bricks in your wall are going to be durable and long lasting, but the mortar connecting those bricks will occasionally break down and wear away. Repointing is a process in which the broken or deteriorating mortar is removed and replaced with fresh mortar. You may want to match the existing mortar to keep a uniform appearance on your wall, which can be done using small sample spots to match the existing color, but remember to let your text patch of mortar set before comparing as the color may change slightly as the mortar dries.  

This is a good basic explanation of the care for your brick walls, but remember when it comes to cleaning it’s always going to be easier and safer to hire a professional. Call our qualified staff today to see how great your brick walls can really look!