In many homes, especially older homes, bricks are more than just decorative facades. Bricks are often used to create support walls, and when they are used this way, they are considered structural components of a house. If you own a home with structural brick components, repairing damaged masonry is an essential aspect of good property maintenance. Masonry repair professionals use many techniques to repair, restore, and refinish brick support walls. This article covers two of the most common techniques these professionals use to repair these walls and prevent future damage.
Most structural bricks are designed to withstand constant exposure to the elements. When they are made, they are subjected to intense heat and pressure to ensure they won't crumble or break under the weight of a snow-covered roof or fall apart after multiple freeze-thaw cycles. Bricks are so well made, in fact, that the most common failure points on any given brick wall are the mortar joints.
As structural brick walls are built, bricks are sealed together with an industrial-grade mixture of cement and sand called mortar. This mixture varies based on how strong it needs to be and the desired color of the final wall. Although mortar is virtually as strong as concrete, it simply isn't as strong as the kiln-fired bricks it binds together. Over time, mortar can crumble and crack, leading to misalignment between bricks and dangerously angled walls.
To repair damaged mortar, most masonry repair professionals use a technique called repointing. During this repair process, technicians support the wall if necessary and remove the damaged mortar using chisels or angle grinders. Typically, they only need to remove a small layer of exposed mortar to reveal undamaged mortar that can still support the wall. Once the damaged mortar is removed, they carefully install new mortar that matches the old mortar in both color and particle size. They start with the horizontal joints to ensure the wall is supported as well as possible. Once the new mortar is installed, they tidy up the joint lines and clean any excess mortar off of the bricks to give the masonry a polished final appearance.
For structural brick walls with extensive damage, masons go the extra mile to ensure their clients never have to worry about their home's structure again by installing masonry ties. These ties are long metal rods that hold structural brick walls together. Technicians install these rods by drilling horizontal pilot holes into the wall's existing mortar and then using an impact drill to drive ties deep into the walls. These ties are recessed enough into the walls that they can be completely covered with new mortar.
Tie installation is typically done as part of an extensive reporting job. After the technicians remove the old mortar but before they install new mortar, they drive the ties into the wall. By including tie installation in a repointing project, professional masons guarantee that the finished project will hold up for decades to come and look like an ordinary, unmodified brick structure.
To learn more about masonry repair, contact masons in your area.