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Hard winters like the most recent are reminders of how devastating weather can be on brick structures. Chimneys, walkways, patios and walls eventually show the damage of winter’s severe freeze-thaw cycle. Spring is the best time to take stock of your historic brick home, identify any damaged areas, and start planning for repairs.

What Should You Look For?

Chimneys. Look for cracked, missing, or deteriorating mortar. You may need to follow up by performing a probing test with a small knife. If mortar is loose, crumbling, or falls out easily with digging,your will need chimney repair or restoration.
Walkways and steps. Entry walkways and steps that have broken and cracked bricks, buckling or uneven bricks are not only unattractive but also present a safety hazard. In multi-story structures brick steps are an essential feature requiring regular maintenance and repair.
Retaining walls. Brick retaining walls in front of homes support tiered gardens, delineate walkways, and anchor fences. Backyard patios are buttressed by retaining walls, which are integral to the design. Crumbling retaining walls are both unsightly and unsafe.
Building facades. When the walls of historical brick buildings show signs of damaged bricks and crumbling mortar, they need tuckpointing - removing mortar between masonry joints and replacing it with lime-based mortar.

What Do You Need to Know?

If you think that repairs are needed, contact a masonry contractor for a site visit. When selecting masonry contractors in Washington DC, make sure that they are specialists in the correct application of traditional materials and methods. Experts in historical brick restoration can assist you in developing your plan for repair that maintains the structural authenticity. Here are some things you will need to know:

  • Are any repairs urgent? Which?
  • What is the priority of the others?
  • Can these projects be scheduled over a period of time?
  • How long will each take?
  • What is the cost of each?
  • Which have the option of replace OR repair? 

You need to be fully informed before you make decisions about restoration and repair projects. Some brick restoration projects can be expensive and require budgeting. As an owner of a old brick home, you know that your efforts to maintain the historical authenticity as well as the curb appeal increase the value of the property. Having a working plan for both repair and maintenance will ensure your home's continuing historical value.


Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration in DC, 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
May 12, 2014 8:48:00 AM