If you built your home with a masonry, one of the likely selling points was the product’s durability. It’s true that masonry is the long-lasting option for exteriors. In fact, there are masonry homes and buildings that have been standing for centuries – and more.
But that doesn’t mean you should neglect your home’s masonry exterior. After all, it’s your first line of defence against the elements. Here’s an overview of the maintenance you should do to make sure your home looks as beautiful as the day you moved in for years to come.
Start off with an item you should add to your annual to-do list: Inspect your masonry. Once a year, give your exterior walls a once-over to make sure nothing’s wrong and that nothing is changing over time.
Here’s a list of what to look for:
- Cracked bricks, which could indicate settling or foundation issues
- Gaps in the mortar that need to be filled in, or “pointed” (more on that in a moment)
- Efflorescence, a white-powdery substance left behind by evaporating water
- Mould or moss growth, which can occur in damp, shaded areas
If you have a pair of binoculars, you can use them to check on the bricks or stones on the upper level. Binoculars are also handy for visually inspecting your roof, eaves and chimney from the safety of the ground.
Whatever time of year you get around to your inspection, if you find the masonry is looking a little worn you can always give it a cleaning.
For small areas where moss or efflorescence are present, you can hand clean or rinse with the hose. If you use a brush to do the scrubbing, make sure it has fibre bristles. If you use a brush with metal bristles and some of them come loose, you could end up with rust stains down the line.
For larger jobs, a pressure washer is a handy tool. Just don’t use too much power or you could damage the surface of the brick. Use a wide tip instead of a pointed one, with the pressure at a maximum of about 600 PSI. You should always wear safety goggles when using a pressure washer in case anything flies into your face.
If you’re using a detergent for a deeper clean, make sure it’s one that is specifically formulated for masonry. Wet the wall with water first, then apply two rounds of the detergent, before thoroughly rinsing it off with clean water to finish.
Note that if your house is a century home, you’re best to consult with a mason before pressure washing the walls as you might damage the surface of the bricks.
If there are gaps or cracks in the mortar, you should replace the damaged material – job called “repointing” or “tuck pointing.” If the damage is just in a small area, the job is a fairly easy task for a competent DIYer. Start by removing the existing, damaged mortar with a hammer and chisel, and then replace it with colour-matched mortar. If you do need significant pointing done, that’s a job best left for professionals.
Note that some gaps – known as weep holes – are vents, and are intended to be there. These are found around windows and the foundation, and they are intended to let water escape if it gets in behind the brick and for ventilation. If you’re unsure, consult a mason.
Finally, remember that not all masonry is made the same. We’re so confident in the quality of our products that every Shouldice Stone block and brick comes with a lifetime warranty.