Summer is the Perfect Time for Preserving Those Historic Brick Steps

Jun 8, 2023 8:30:00 AM Christina Wilson

Warm summer evenings can evoke nostalgic memories of a time when neighbors would gather on the front steps, sipping cool drinks and sharing stories about work, family, and the community. The brick steps of your historic home may have seen plenty of these cherished moments, but the steps themselves may not have received the attention and care they needed after so many seasons of visitors. The beautiful weather from June through August provides a perfect opportunity to inspect and repair the steps, whether for safety or aesthetics (or both). Summer is the perfect time for preserving those historic brick steps.

The Importance of Thorough Inspections for Brick Steps

Your historic brick steps endure a constant barrage of elements: foot traffic, harsh weather and accumulated dirt. The combination of wear and tear exposes them to potential damage such as cracks, water damage, spalling, and crumbling. As the damage increases, it can lead to safety hazards for you and your guests, including slips, trips, and falls. Seemingly small cracks or chips in the mortar might seem insignificant, but they can quickly become larger structural issues if water and dirt are able to infiltrate and compromise the historic steps' structure. 

A thorough inspection involves examining your brick steps to ensure they are even, smooth and free of chips and cracks to eliminate any tripping hazards. In addition, you'll want to look for any pooling or standing water, which may indicate the steps are leaning or tilting. Pooling water can cause steps to deteriorate quickly, especially when small problems are already present. Obvious signs of damaged brick or missing mortar should be addressed right away.

Repair Now to Preempt Winter's Wrath

Summer is an ideal time for repairing brick steps. Once winter returns, the freeze-thaw cycle of cold months will accelerate the deterioration of historic brickwork, with the ice expanding between mortar joints causing loosening, cracking, spalling or even structural breakdown of the entire set of steps​.

However, repairing historic bricks is a tradecraft that goes beyond today's bricklaying. Incorrect repairs can lead to irreversible damage, and modern materials are not the right fit for historic brick homes. For instance, many contractors replace the old lime-based mortar with concrete. This might seem logical for added strength, but today's cement mortar can damage the softer bricks, weaken the structure, and end up leading to even more costly repairs​. This is why it is crucial to make repairs utilizing traditional, trusted tuckpointing methods with the same lime-based mortar used in the original construction.

Restore Your Brick for Both Safety and Sentimental Value

Specialized craftspeople employing traditional methods and materials are experts at preserving your historic brick steps' beauty, integrity, and value​. By using proper lime-based mortar, they ensure both the steps' structural integrity and longevity​. In addition, historic brick home contractors can maintain your home's charm and historic presence by saving original brick or sourcing historic brick as needed, so your home doesn't look "repaired." Instead, with the right inspections, techniques and materials, your historic steps will look like fresh brickwork that has always been there.

Investing in the care of your steps now can save you costly repairs down the road and provide a safe and welcoming entry to your home. In addition to the curb appeal, you’ll love walking on your beautifully restored front steps, coming and going. Perhaps this might even be the time to take a moment and rekindle that old tradition of summer evenings spent chatting to your neighbors on the front steps.

Renaissance Development, experts in traditional tuckpointing methods, specialize in brick repair and restoration projects in Capitol Hill and other historic neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Whether it's your front steps that need repair, or the full exterior of your historic brick home, we can provide a complimentary consultation and expert advice that you won't get elsewhere. Contact us today, and take full advantage of our Spring Promotion: Save 10%  by accepting and signing your proposal by June 20, 2023.

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Categories: Repair, Historic Preservation, Curb appeal, Renovation, old brick, brick steps, mortar

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