The walls of your home or commercial property perform a number of crucial functions. Primarily, they are the structure of the building, creating its perimeters, holding it up and protecting it from the elements. As such, it is vital that they are structurally sound, well-designed and properly maintained.
Aside from the obvious practical functions, a building’s exterior walls are also largely responsible for its overall appearance. Therefore, it is important that your brick walls are aesthetically pleasing.
There are a number of reasons why both the structural integrity and the visual appearance of your walls can be negatively affected. Below we have detailed some of the main causes of both structural and visual brickwork damage – along with ways to prevent or remedy the situation.
Damp is one the biggest dangers facing brickwork. Simply put, it is a build-up of excess moisture which is then unable to escape. It can be caused by poorly maintained, aging or damaged brickwork, as well as defective guttering systems.
It is usually best to tackle damp issues head-on. Ignoring them – or just remedying their interior symptoms – only leads to the problem getting worse over time. Instead, it is advised to enlist professional help. Specialist protective coatings can be administered to protect your building from the elements. Additionally, sand-blasting can be used in preparation for the tanking of damp walls.
FROST DAMAGE AND SPALLING
Another common problem which can affect brickwork, particularly older bricks, is frost damage. Frost attacks occur when water turns to ice, as it then expands and takes up a greater volume of the brick – placing stress upon it. This can lead to spalling (when the brick face flakes off or crumbles) and, in extreme circumstances, even total disintegration of the brick.
Like damp, it is best to enlist professional help when your brickwork is faced with frost damage. The porosity of the bricks will have a massive influence on the severity of the attack – with more porous bricks being much more susceptible to frost – and it may be necessary to replace parts of your brickwork in this instance. Alternatively, another remedial option may be the administration of a specialist protective coating to seal your bricks from the weather.
Efflorescence has become a very common sight, especially with new brickwork. It is essentially a crystalline deposit on masonry and is caused by soluble salts being brought to the surface as water in the wall dries. Although usually temporary and harmless, its white, powdery appearance is particularly undesirable and can diminish the appearance of your property.
Depending on the severity of the efflorescence, there are various methods which can be used to remove it. If the problem is very minor, and there is only a small amount of efflorescence, it may be possible to remove it yourself by brushing the surface with a stiff brush. If, however, the coating is particularly widespread it may be necessary to call in an expert. Intensive cleaning is a great way to remove efflorescence and treatments such as sand blasting are a safe and highly effective way of restoring your brickwork.
Efflorescence tends to be the most common type of brickwork staining. However, there are a number of other stains which can damage the aesthetics of your property and result in unsightly masonry. Iron staining and manganese staining, for example, can affect the mortar joints of your brickwork, whilst vanadium salts and silicate deposits usually affect the brick face. Similarly, external sources, such as pollution and organic growth (mould or algae, for example) can result in staining.
Stains on your brickwork are usually fairly straight-forward to treat. It may be possible to clean the bricks yourself or, if the problem is particularly severe, a professional brick cleaner will be able to analyse the problem and prescribe the best cleaning solution for your needs.
If your home or commercial property has been subjected to graffiti it can be incredibly detrimental to its aesthetic appeal. Additionally, if your property is used to greet customers it can diminish its professional reputation.
Professional graffiti removal services are often the best course of action in this event. They can analyze the type of brickwork your property has and then recommend the best cleaning method – such as sand, shot or grit blasting. Similarly, professional brick cleaning companies can apply a coating which protects against graffiti – so you can rest assured it won’t happen again in the future.
Various Damage Brick Walls