For centuries homeowners and builders have chosen brick as their cladding of choice. Brick meets the balance between beauty and durability. There are hundreds of styles and textures to choose from, and because they come in a wide variety of sizes, there are bricks to meet every homeowner’s taste and budget.
INSTALLATION: Masonry walls must meet Canadian Standards including the following. Correct mortar types must be used. Masonry units must be laid in a full bed of mortar. An air space must be created between the veneer and sub-structure and must be kept clear of mortar excess or other debris. Weep holes must be installed with precision and kept clear. Flashing must be installed and sealed at overlaps and must be formed with a drip edge extending past the masonry face. Stone sills must be formed with taper and drip notch at the underside of the sill unit. Metal ties must fasten the brick to the wall at regular intervals.
The brick veneer is a building’s outermost barrier to the environment. It does not provide an ultimate barrier against air or moisture penetration and it does not significantly increase the insulating value of a wall system. Typically brick used in this type of construction will last the life of the building provided periodic maintenance is undertaken. Periodic maintenance would take the form of brick replacement and repointing on an as-need basis.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting:
Efflorescence: This is normally a temporary condition and refers to the appearance of a white powdery substance appearing on the wall. It is caused by the presence of soluble salts that come in contact with the wall or substructure. A source of water in contact with the salts causes them to be drawn to the surface and evaporate, thus depositing the salts. New bricks will always have efflorescence, it is a natural part of the curing process. By hosing the walls down with water, the salty residue should wash away.
Spalling: Also referred to as “frost attack”, this is a serious concern in Canada, due to our harsh weather conditions. Where freeze thaw action occurs within the structure of the brick itself, disfiguring occurs, such as small pockets and gouges on the surface of the brick.
Prevention and Control:
To decrease the effects of spalling and efflorescence, be sure that the brick being used is effective against the climate of the local area of use, and meets CSA standards. Prevent moisture entrapment by eliminating the source if possible, and control wall movement.
Repointing Mortar Joints: Even well-made mortar joints between bricks can suffer damage over time. Cracked or crumbling joints allow moisture to penetrate the wall, where it can freeze and cause even more extensive damage. Brick surfaces should be checked every few years to assess any repairs that may be required. Fixing mortar joints is called repointing or tuck pointing. It involves chiseling out the old mortar, and replacing it. Small jobs can be handled by a handyman, but bigger jobs should be left to a professional mason. New mortar should match the old mortar as closely as possible in composition, color, and joint profile.