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Maintaining a historic brick home requires a little extra care than modern brick, but it is well worth the effort to retain its timeless beauty. It's important for homeowners of old brick houses to gain an understanding of the causes of crumbling brick - and how to fix it.

One common concern of homeowners is crumbling brick, which is almost always rooted in problems with moisture. Fluctuating temperatures can accelerate the issue because when moisture seeps into the brick and freezes, the expansion of the water causes the brick to crack and ultimately crumble. Spalling brick can cause pieces to "pop off," landing farther away from the brick than pieces that fall, potentially becoming a hazard to other areas of your property. To prevent further damage and protect the historic value of your home, it's essential to address the issue as soon as possible. 

Preventing Spalling Brick in Historic Homes

The best way to prevent spalling brick is to minimize water damage. This can be achieved by ensuring proper drainage around the building, maintaining the roof and gutters, and ensuring your mortar is intact and of the right type. Unfortunately, modern mortar does not allow historic brick to drain properly, and the modern concrete mix puts excessive compressive strength on the brick. This can cause your brick to crack, creating even more water problems. Therefore, the mixture used on your historic brick home should always be a lime-based mortar applied with traditional methods.

To ensure water remains in check, regular inspections of your home's exterior can help identify any issues early on, allowing for prompt repairs and preventing more significant damage in the long run.

How to Fix Spalling Brick

When dealing with spalling brick, following the appropriate steps to repair the damage and prevent further deterioration is crucial. First, remove any loose or damaged bricks and clean the area thoroughly. Second, replace the damaged brick using period-appropriate replacements. Finally, tuckpoint to replace the damaged mortar with a traditional lime-based mixture to ensure a secure and long-lasting repair. Tuckpointing should be completed around the entire home where necessary to prevent additional water damage from occurring.

Restoring historic brick structures to their original appearance using traditional methods and materials ensures their structural integrity for decades, but most contractors aren't familiar with a historic home's special needs. Consulting a historic brick expert can save you time and money by preventing the costly errors of modern materials, and can help to reduce waste. In some cases, bricks can be salvaged instead of replaced. The historic brick expert can help you decide on the best route to take to correct water problems and aesthetic concerns.

The Importance of Hiring a Historic Brick Restoration Specialist

When dealing with spalling brick in a historic home, a brick restoration expert understands the unique challenges and requirements necessary to fix it properly. They can identify whether modern materials were used and if that is the cause of the problem; and they can pinpoint areas beyond the spalling that might create further issues down the road. The restoration specialist’s team includes craftspersons who employ traditional techniques and only work with the appropriate materials, such as lime-based mortar.  Once completed, this work will preserve your historic home's beauty and structural integrity, increase your curb appeal, and provide you with peace of mind throughout all the seasons of the year.

Renaissance Development, experts in traditional tuckpointing methods, specialize in brick repair and restoration projects in Capitol Hill and many other historic neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Contact us today for expert advice on spalling brick or other issues with your historic home.


Post by Christina Wilson
Apr 20, 2023 9:00:00 AM