Monday, June 27, 2011

A facelift for our home: Brick cleaning and repointing

 Notice the dirt on the stones at the top of the house.

 All clean!

In the spring of 2009 I was sweeping my front balcony and noticed the mortar between the brick was crumbling- it was turning into dust! Almost 50 years of extreme sun in the summer and extreme moisture and cold in the winter meant that our bricks needed repointing.

Before we had the repointing done we decided to get the brick cleaned (brick cleaning must be done before repointing). I learned brick could be cleaned by pressure washing or sandblasting. I decided to go with pressure washing since sandblasting can damage the surface of the brick.

Pressure washing, if well done, will do the trick. There are various products that can be sprayed on the brick before washing to help loosen the dirt. Pressure washing also has it's challenges. The problem is that an amateur may hold the water in one spot for too long and this may damage the brick. Also, if the pressure from the hose is too strong or not evenly sprayed it may leave streaks all over the brick. In my opinion, this is not a DIY project. I would say it's too dangerous to be up on the scaffolds and the possibility of damaging your brick would be too costly a repair (approximately $15,000 per wall for my home!).

Once the brick was cleaned we had the joints repointed with whitish mortar. The difference is phenomenal!

Total cost: $3000
**Our brick had what's called bicycle joints meaning that the new mortar could simply be filled into the existing gaps. No grinding old mortar meant less labor and less cost- GREAT!

St. Louis Bricks Blo
 Tip: If you have an older home, I wouldn't suggest you sandblast your brick because old brick tends to be soft and can be seriously damaged.

Little bit of history: Old bricks were often sun-dried in fields. If you look closely you can often see animal paw prints on the brick of older homes (pre-1900). 

This was definitely worth the cost. Everyone who saw the before and after were astounded that it was the same brick. It now looks as if my house is smiling!


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