How to protect your brickwork from moisture

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How to protect your brickwork from moisture

Dola RC Dola RC
Tropical style bedroom by iSTUDIO Architecture Tropical
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After years of languishing in the dark, exposed brick walls are back in favour. A skilful assortment of bricks is once again decorating the façades of contemporary homes as well as the internal walls. If you already have or are about to use exposed brick walls to enhance the beauty of your home, then it will be better for you to brush up your knowledge of maintaining the health of your brickwork for a long time. 

Composition of bricks differs considerably from one place to another. This brings with it a new set of challenges. But brickwork for décor is not exactly a new phenomenon. We have the opportunities of finding out about the traditional practices for protecting the brick walls and following them in our homes when applicable. 

Specially formulated ladrillo decorated the architecture and sculptures of the Khmer region. The lavish brickwork of Ishtar Gate still enamours us with its beauty. When used tactfully and maintained with care, bricks can really transform the interior or façade of your building. In our today’s post, we will discuss how to protect your brickwork from common moisture related damages.

Reasons for dampness

Brick, being porous in nature, are very quick to absorb water. 

- If you have faulty plumbing behind your internal walls, your newly constructed brick walls can easily get damaged by seeping water.

- The same can happen due to rain if your walls are exposed to the elements without sufficient protection.

- With time, bricks accumulate salt deposits that traps moisture from the environment.

- Bricks that are not baked properly or have a poorly balanced composition can suffer from greater moisture related injuries.

- Lime deposits from cement rendered areas can, at times, damage bricks.

- Water logging close to the ground may also affect fashionable brickwork on the exterior walls.

Choice of bricks

The right choice of bricks can ensure a stylish and durable finish to your internal and external walls. Machine made bricks are uniform in shape and size, and more affordable too. Handmade bricks are appropriate for a unique bespoke look. Moreover, using locally produced quality bricks can reduce the possibilities of weather related damages. 

Bricks baked in direct sunlight and treated properly are more durable. Most Asian countries still prefer using naturally sun dried bricks. Depending on the place of origin, colour of bricks varies considerably. To build a trendy interior like this one designed by IStudio Architecture, choose bricks carefully.

Cavity or hollow bricks can improve the insulating capabilities of your walls. For furnaces, chimneys, barbecue zones or pavers you would need bricks formulated for the specific purpose.

Regular cleaning

Lovers of brickwork may rest assured, brick walls require minimal amount of tending. 

- Use a vacuum cleaner or simple brushes to remove loose dust.

- Use a solution of swimming pool chlorine or tri-sodium phosphate to scrub off the sticky grime and oil deposits. Wring your scrub well—it should be damp, not wet. Never use more than one part of chlorine in three parts of water. Limit tri-sodium phosphate to one cup in about 5 litres of water.

- Up to one part of hydrochloric acid in 10 parts of water can be used to remove mortar stains. Do not cross this limit, because excessive acid can do more harm than good to your brickwork.

- Moss and mould are common in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Household bleach or chlorine solutions as mentioned above can help to clean these up.

- Always begin from the top and cover small areas at a time.

Amending stains and imperfections

Your existing brick walls might already be damaged due to a variety of factors, and should be repaired first before using them as a beautifying element.

- Persistent efflorescence on new or old brick work generally indicates damaged plumbing behind the wall. To maintain the health of your brick walls, remedy these concerns. 

- If, with time, a certain portion of your wall has developed cavities, build that area anew. Left untended, this can bring down the entire structure.

- You will need special rust busters to remove stains left by red iron deposits. 

Damp proofing your brick walls

You need to use certain damp proofing mechanisms to protect your brick walls.

- Installing chemical damp proof courses can give your brick walls protection and longevity.

- Water repellent formulations made of silicone resin, sodium methyl siliconate or aluminium stearate can be used for older brick walls with mortars that are not sufficiently alkaline in nature.

- Though not as effective as physical damp proofing measures, fluid damp proofing courses can be tried as a remedial measure.

Design improvements

Using lime based mortar can prevent damp from creeping up your brick walls from below the ground. Though not feasible everywhere, under-floor heating can benefit the brick walls and eliminate the necessity of using damp-proof membranes. 

Use a proper draining system to prevent waterlogging at or near the base of your house. Sub-soil draining is easy to install and very effective. The ground should gently slope away from your building. 

When applied on the interior walls, lime washed surfaces can improve the breathability of your brick walls. In warmer regions, this will also keep the temperature down.

Want more home advice? Check out this ideabook on the best insulation options for your home!

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