More to your bricks and mortar

21 October 2010 - 10 min read

Seeing bricks displayed in a showroom is one thing, perfectly laid with even mortar and balanced colour distribution.

The key difference between what you see in a showroom and the real deal is the sheer volume of product. A handful of bricks are quite easy to colour match and mortar precision is obviously much easier – but with four large walls to your home, there is a higher chance there will be issues.

Bricks are made from clay and when you choose your style of brick, the look is achieved by painting over the clay. For some colours, particularly lighter coloured bricks, the clay has the potential to seep through. A good builder has seen it all before and will have worked closely with the brick supplier to make sure their selection of bricks includes tried and tested brick varieties – so it’s best to take their advice into consideration when making your colour choice so you don’t have to go through brick re-selection.

Sometimes you’ll see a hole in the brickwork during construction and think – what on earth is that? Did they miss a spot? If there are gaps in the brickwork on site this could either be for the use of an articulation joint, which are is used to stabilise brickwork or it could be a gap left on purpose for windows or doors. The articulation joints are a necessary part of construction, however, if you have concerns with a gap in the brickwork just run it by your site supervisor.

After the bricklayer has completed the works, the majority of mortar residues and smears will be cleaned off before they set. However, in most cases, some additional cleaning is required to completely remove the residue. While every precaution is taken to ensure no damage occurs, cleaning of the bricks and mortar can sometimes have a negative impact:

  • High water jet cleaning is standard practice but occasionally it can damage the mortar. This simply means the mortar has to be repaired.
  • An “acid burn” can happen during cleaning, which is classified as a yellow, orangey brown rust-like stain. This is most likely to occur in cream bricks but also can occur on the darker range of bricks.
  • Calcium staining is where white deposits or a milky film develops because of a reaction between the cement and the bricklaying sand.
    Other types of staining can occur at any time, including:
  • Vanadium staining occurs on light coloured clays that contain vanadium salts, which are generally colourless but under certain conditions look like a yellow, green or reddish brown discolouration of the brick. They generally wash off in time but can be hastened using a chemical treatment.
  • Efflorescence is not a stain but a powdery deposit that forms on the surface of porous materials such as masonry. This is caused by either the presence of salts, excessive amounts of water in the masonry or the evaporation of water as the masonry dries out. This will naturally disappear over time however it can be accelerated by using a stiff dry brush.
  • Writing on the brick, be it a legitimate code number or annoying graffiti, can be removed by using a chemical solution.
    But don’t be burdened by bricks! There are applications to rectify stains, which your site supervisor can order. All of the above concerns are not so pleasing on the eye but it’s important to remember none of them affect the structural quality of the brickwork and all of them can be fixed.

View the full range of Porter Davis bricks used in Prestige and Lifestyle and Access, or see them at our showroom, Hopetoun Interiors.