Removing Ivy from a historic brick home_Renaissance Development DC

Why It's the Right Time for Removing Ivy from Your Historic Brick Home

Mar 23, 2023 8:30:00 AM Christina Wilson

Owners of historic brick homes may be drawn to the lush greenery of ivy growing on their home's walls. However, much like a beautiful rose has thorns, ivy has its dangers. While other plants cause different sorts of problems, the damage done by ivy to the brickwork of historic homes can be severe, leading to costly repairs. Removing ivy and other invasive plants from historic brick homes as soon as possible is recommended. Once you’ve gotten rid of the ivy, you should schedule an inspection by a historic brick expert and follow up with the completion of any needed repairs. Here are some key reasons why it’s time to remove ivy from your historic brick home.

The Dangers of Growing Ivy on Historic Brick Homes

While ivy may seem charming, it can cause several issues for historic brick homes. First, the tendrils that allow ivy to climb the walls can grow right into the mortar joints, causing them to loosen and crumble. This damage allows water to penetrate behind the brick which can cause damage to the interior of your home. Second, ivy retains moisture on the brickwork, leading to the growth of mold and mildew. Finally, this moisture retention can also cause the bricks to freeze and thaw repeatedly, leading to cracks or even spalling

Damage can extend underground, too. Ivy's roots can grow into the smallest of cracks and become embedded within the brick and mortar. They can widen gaps to the point that they become major water infiltration points. As historic brick homes usually do not have a supporting structure—the brick itself is what maintains the integrity of the house—both scenarios can lead to structural issues that are incredibly costly to repair, both inside and outside the home.

Other Plants to Avoid Having Near Brick Homes

While this list is not exhaustive, there are several other plants you should avoid having near brick homes. Trees with invasive root systems, such as willow and maple, can infiltrate right into the foundation of the house. Willows and maples have such extensive root systems that they don't even need to be directly next to the house to create serious trouble. Creeping juniper and trumpet vine should also be avoided, as they can grow into the mortar joints of the brickwork. 

Removing Ivy from Historic Brick Homes

It is crucial to remove ivy and other invasive plants. When removing the plants from historic brick homes, remember that the bricks may be more delicate and could already have sustained some damage. Working slowly is important to avoid ripping bricks and mortar apart if tendrils are embedded, or if the bricks are severely compromised. An assessment by a historic brick expert can help determine the methods by which the plants should be removed.

It is also important to work safely. If you are removing the ivy yourself, be sure to follow all ladder safety recommendations, wear eye protection, a long-sleeved shirt, and gloves. Some ivy can cause a skin reaction, so protecting yourself from the cut vines is important.

The Importance of Using a Historic Brick Expert for Tuckpointing

After removing ivy or other invasive plants, your historic brick home will likely require tuckpointing. It is essential to use a historic brick expert for this process. Historic brick homes require specialized materials and techniques. Modern materials will not work on an old home; for historic preservation of the old brick, it is absolutely essential that the proper lime-based mortar and age-appropriate brick replacements are used for repairs.

Your historic brick expert can help make recommendations about which plants are safe to have near your home, plants that can provide the curb appeal and charm you desire, without the risk of further damage. By removing ivy and avoiding having other invasive plants, you can avoid the high costs of repairing damaged bricks, while ensuring your home will continue to stand strong for generations to come.

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.

Categories: Exterior brick, old brick, Removing Ivy from Brick Home, Ivy, Ivy Removal, Remove Ivy from Brick

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