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IIn the historic neighborhoods of Washington DC, brick walkways and steps of homes, in deep reds, oranges and browns, create unique curb appeal for entryways – until they need repair. Bricks that are broken, cracked, buckling or uneven are not only unattractive but also present a safety hazard.  Repairs made during warm weather will ease the work of clearing ice and snow in the winter. 

Washington DC is known as a walkable city and pedestrians take advantage of the accessible streets. As a homeowner you want your brick walkways to be both safe and attractive. Summer is the season for outdoor repairs. Now is the time to make sure that your walkways are restored and safe for your neighbors and visitors.

The Winter Weather Damage to Walkways

It's true that winter weather is an ongoing challenge to brick walkways. Severe weather damage to sidewalks and entry walkways results in broken and cracked bricks, buckling or uneven bricks which are not only unattractive but also present a safety hazard. Although brick pavers are very durable and can last a long time, as with any walkway, accidents and damage can happen.

  • Winter's freeze-thaw cycle can disrupt the joints and cause the pavers to shift. They retain some moisture and may crack or break in more extreme cold weather.
  • If the bricks are buckling upward there may be a tree root beneath them which will need to be cut and removed.
  • If the bricks are sinking, it’s possible that the original work was not sufficiently leveled at installation or that erosion has occurred. In any case, the bricks should be reset and replaced.

Repair and Restore the Original Look

Fortunately, unlike some other materials, a brick walkway is fairly easy to repair. Whether the need is for a few bricks to be replaced or a more significant repair, the rebuilding process can be completed quite efficiently. It is often possible to reuse some of the original bricks to allow the walkway to retain its original historic feel. If there aren’t enough undamaged bricks to be reused, others that match are available through specialized supply companies. Further, once the repairs are made, the benefits of low maintenance and durability are restored.

Because brick common pavers retain some moisture, they may crack or break if subjected to multiple freezes/thaws per year. In colder climates, it is recommended that brick street pavers, hard-fired and impervious to water, be used. They are available in a variety of contrasting colors or patterns to create walkways with flowing curves or straight lines and borders.

For your historic home in DC, brick repair with traditional methods and materials for a sidewalk or walkway will restore the original charm or grandeur of the entry way.

Download How to Research the History of Your Washington DC Home


Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration and historic preservation, specializes in the restoration of a historic brick building’s mortar joints using traditional methods (tuckpointing) and materials. Contact us for a free site visit and project quote.


Post by Christina Wilson
7/3/20 8:30 AM