How Do You Stabilize Crumbling Bricks

How do you stabilize crumbling bricks? Whether on the interior or exterior of your home, bricks is a charming material that adds character. It’s an increasingly popular choice for interior walls in Nashville homes, as it adds a stunning ambiance and unique feel. 

However, brick can also crumble. When it does so, it sheds layers of gritty dust that can quickly overtake your home. Before you panic, try stabilizing any crumbling bricks. With proper stabilization, your brick interior or exterior wall may be able to be preserved. 

Today, we’ll review the best ways to stabilize crumbling bricks. 

Causes of Crumbling Bricks 

There are many reasons for crumbling bricks (known as spalling bricks). Before attempting to stabilize the bricks, you should consider the cause to determine if further action is necessary to prevent more damage later on. 

The most common cause of spalling bricks is water. This is usually common in outdoor brick structures that endure the freeze-thaw cycle. Water that gets into the bricks expands when it freezes, then decreases when it thaws. This process puts pressure on the bricks, causing them to crack and spall. While exterior bricks have more exposure to water, this can still happen to interior bricks, and if it does it may signify that water is getting into your home. 

Another issue is non-breathable sealants. We will discuss sealing your crumbling bricks to stabilize them, but not all sealants are created equal. Non-breathable sealants do not allow ricks to release any water that gets in, so they will trap the water into the brick. 

Low-quality bricks are likely to spall as well, especially when places below the grade level. 

Lastly, high-pressure cleaning with water or sand can damage bricks. If your bricks require cleaning, make sure to avoid high-pressure cleaning and opt for a gentler method. 

Seal Crumbling Bricks 

Sealing your bricks is the best way to stabilize crumbling bricks. It can also be used to prevent spalling, so you don’t have to wait until your bricks are crumbling to do it. While there are many sealants available, you’ll want to be sure to choose a breathable one that does leave a protective film. The key to successfully stabilizing bricks with sealant is proper preparation. 

Supplies

  • Industrial vacuum cleaners
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • Drop cloth 
  • Film-forming masonry sealer
  • Roller pain
  • Synthetic bristle paintbrush 
  • Long-nap cover paint roller
  • Stiff brush (plastic or copper, not steel). 

Clear the Area

You do not want the sealant to get all over your home and items. Move furniture and any other valuables away from the brick wall. Tape off adjacent walls and the floor, covering them with plastic. Place a heavy drop cloth directly below the brick wall. 

Prep the Brick 

Wipe off any loose brick or mortar with a stiff brush. The best brushes have copper or plastic brushes, as steel-wire brushes may leave black marks. Assess the brick to ensure it’s in good enough condition for sealing. If you notice any severe damage or receding mortar, you will need the help of a professional. 

Additionally, any stains on the brick are likely to darken following sealing. To prevent this, you can clean the wall with a mild masonry stain remover or detergent mixture. Rinse it thoroughly and allow the brick to dry completely before moving on. 

Remove Dust

Make sure the area is dust-free, so you do not seal any dust or grit to the surface. Vacuum the surrounding area and the wall. 

Apply the Sealer

Use a long-nap roller to apply the sealer. Use a synthetic bristle brush to work the sealant into the joints and small crevices. The number of coats and dry time will depend on the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the sealer try completely before moving your stuff back and or subjecting it to any moisture. 

Make sure you have proper ventilation while applying the sealer. Even sealers labeled as environmentally friendly require ventilation to safely apply. The need for ventilation makes this project ideal in the summer. If you must do it during colder months, use fans, turn on your furnace fan and crack a window in the room. 

Brick Repair in Nashville 

Mildly crumbling bricks can often be stabilized with a sealer, but more serious spalling cannot be handled with DIY methods. Additionally, sealing your bricks will not address the underlying cause.  If you believe serious water damage is the cause, you need the help of a professional. 

The team at the Chimney & Masonry Outfitters of Nashville is here to help you with your masonry needs. We can assess your brick structures and determine the best course of action. We’ll let you know if a sealant can do the trick or if you’ll need some more advanced brick repair to deal with crumbling. No matter what your brick needs are, you can count on CMO to provide an affordable solution. To learn more about our masonry services or schedule your appointment, contact CMO today at (615) 823-8268 or OFFICE@CMOUTFITTERS.COM