Brick masonry repair in Chicago: fast, quality and cost-effective
Like any part of a building, brick masonry deteriorates with age. Learn how to keep your brick masonry in good repair with this guide by Masonry Chicago.
Brick masonry repair services: High Quality that Will Last Centuries
Brick masonry might look solid and almost indestructible. However, like any other part of a building, bricks and mortar can fail if not maintained properly.
In particular, prolonged exposure to the elements can damage bricks and mortar joints. Brickwork can also deteriorate if mistreated or if the original job was poorly done.
If you see signs of damage to your brick masonry, it is important to have an expert appraisal and call in qualified brick wall repair contractors to carry out the job if necessary.
If neglected, damage to masonry can easily worsen – causing further damage to the fabric of the building, or even jeopardizing its structural integrity and leading to an eventual collapse. Brickwork damage such as spalling, caused by excess moisture penetration and the freeze/thaw cycle, can also cause lead to health risks such as mold.
As this article will discuss, there are many different types of brickwork damage and ways to repair masonry. Thankfully, at Masonry Chicago, our expert masons are experienced and on hand to diagnose and repair all kinds of brickwork damage.
So, if you are looking for “brick repair near me” in the Chicago area, you can’t go wrong by contacting the professionals at Masonry Chicago. There’s a reason why we’ve become the “go-to” for many satisfied customers when it comes to masonry repairs in Chicago.
How to fix brick wall
How do I identify brick masonry damage?
The first step of repairing brick wall is to identify signs of damage. Some of the tell-tale signs to look for include:
- Cracks in the brick
- Spalling (crumbling or deteriorating bricks)
- Soft, cracked, or loose mortar (“pointing”)
- Damp patches on the building exterior or inside
- Bulging walls
- Loose bricks
- White powdery residue on the wall exterior (efflorescence)
If you spot any of these signs on your masonry, it is important to assess the problem and resolve it as soon as possible. Early rectification can stop the problem from spreading and causing further damage.
Diagnose the cause
Once a problem is identified, it is important to find out the root cause of the damage and resolve it to prevent the issue from recurring. For example, if excess moisture is caused by a leak, it is important to repair the leak or the problem will likely recur again.
As the first step of any job, our specialists will conduct a thorough inspection to identify the root cause of the damage and how it can be solved. Common problems include:
One of the most common (and serious) issues that affect brick and mortar is excess moisture. Bricks and mortar are naturally porous and so absorb water from rain, melted ice and snow, or any other sources of water.
Exposed areas of a building are particularly vulnerable, such as walls or chimneys near leaking rainwater pipes. Once excess moisture has started to seep into the brickwork, it can soon penetrate a large area, and even threaten the structural integrity of the building.
If you see brickwork cracking, that could indicate that your building has a structural fault. This could be a result of flaws in the original construction, unsound foundations, compromised timber or other structural elements, tree roots, or some other cause of structural movement.
If brickwork is displaced due to structural movement, this can also form ledges where water can collect and seep into the brickwork.
Substandard work during the original construction or subsequent repairs can lead to issues with brickwork — for example, inadequate bonding with existing brickwork where new masonry has been added.
Winter damage (spalling)
As we have mentioned, bricks are porous. In places with cold winters — like Chicago – spalling occurs when water penetrates a brick, freezes and expands, and then thaws again. Over time, this kind of frost damage causes bricks to flake and crumble, and can worsen if not addressed.
Vegetation might not look strong compared to brickwork, but over time, plants can wreak havoc with brick and mortar if not taken care of. For example, moss can grow in existing damp patches and cause more water to enter the brickwork. Climbing plants such as ivy can gain a foothold, especially in areas of brickwork that already have minor damage, and penetrate deeper into the brick.
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Types of brick and mortar repair
Over the centuries, masons have developed many methods for stone repair, fixing brick masonry, and replacing masonry joints. Some of these age-old techniques are still used in masonry brick repair today, albeit adapted for the modern age and materials.
So, what can you do to fix damaged brick and mortar on your building? Depending on the type and extent of damage, there are various ways of fixing brick walls.
If some of the brick on your building is deteriorating (spalling) or has developed holes, an experienced mason can often address the problem by replacing them with new bricks and mortar joints.
The process to replace brick involves removing the damaged bricks, cleaning the opening, installing new bricks and mortar, and then curing the mortar. Of course, so that the repair doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, its better to try and use similar replacement bricks to try and match the surrounding brickwork and to apply mortar in the same style.
Ideally, spalling and other types of damage to brick and mortar masonry should be dealt with by preventing it from occurring in the first place. One of the best ways to do this is to protect the brick by applying a special masonry sealant designed to let the brick breathe.
Repair mortar (“tuckpointing”)
While brick can last for centuries, mortar usually deteriorates after 20 to 30 years. The mortar joints (pointing) between the bricks hold them all in the correct position, so cracking old mortar is a problem that must be fixed to prevent more serious structural damage.
Fixing decayed or cracked old mortar joints is referred to variously as “pointing”, “repointing“, or “tuckpointing” in different areas. However, whatever you call it, this is much more than a matter of simply replacing old mortar. Repointing brick mortar is painstaking work that requires special skills and patience, and there are various mortar brick repair methods suited to different circumstances.
The old mortar must be carefully removed by hand to avoid damaging the existing bricks and appropriate new mortar must be used to match the surrounding brickwork. Our specialists are experts in knowing how to re mortar brick and can make sure your masonry construction stays in tip-top condition with a range of repoint masonry services.
Repairing brick steps
Brick steps on a patio or leading up to an entrance are a key feature and add aesthetic appeal to your building. However, like all brickwork, brick stairs are also susceptible to damage from crumbling or loose mortar. This mortar damage can loosen bricks in the stairs and make them vulnerable to further damage.
The process of how to repair mortar between bricks on steps is essentially a type of tuckpointing — removing the old mortar and applying new mortar – and requires similar steps as those outlined above. In more serious cases, brick steps may need to be rebuilt, but usually, it is possible to simply repair the existing masonry.
Brick face repair
How to repair bricks themselves? In some cases, if the damage is not too serious, it may be possible to repair face bricks with a special repair mortar that is color-matched so the repair does not stand out from the surrounding brickwork.
Using a special mortar as a way of filling holes in brick has the advantage of being less time-consuming and disruptive (and therefore cheaper) than taking the damaged bricks out and replacing them. Our masons can advise whether brick face repair is a suitable solution for your building and run you through the options available for repairing bricks.
Brick veneer repair
A brick veneer wall is a thin wall of bricks or a brick “skin” secured to a building to give the look of a brick build. These walls are not supporting structures and can sometimes become damaged or unstable due to structural movement or other issues.
If not addressed, brick veneer damage can cause other problems, such as allowing water to seep inside and affect the underlying structure. If brick veneer walls come loose, they can even break off from a building and collapse.
Fortunately, fixing brick veneer is relatively straightforward, so if you spot cracks in brick veneer walls on your building, you can call the specialists at Masonry Chicago for expert advice.
Fireplace and chimney repairs
Over time, bricks and mortar on your fireplace can decay, even if located inside. Our specialists offer a full suite of fireplace brick repair services to restore your fireplace back to its original grandeur as an elegant centerpiece of your home.
Externally, chimneys are also vulnerable to damage by the elements over time. However, often damage to masonry and mortar on chimneys goes unnoticed because regular inspections are difficult.
If you are looking for “brick chimney repair near me,” Masonry Chicago can help to assess your chimney and carry out timely repairs such as repointing mortar or even a complete chimney rebuild if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably identified issues with your brickwork that could need fixing and are wondering about the practicalities of a masonry repair or restoration project.
Why is my brickwork crumbling?
To figure out why your bricks or mortar are crumbling, it is helpful to look for the tell-tale signs outlined above that can reveal the root cause of the problem. Excess moisture penetrating the masonry is one of the most common culprits, especially when this is combined with freeze-thaw cycles that cause spalling.
Our masonry experts can help you to diagnose the problem and carry out necessary repairs to the masonry and mortar before the problem gets worse.
Can I fix damaged brickwork myself?
If you are comfortable and experienced in handling masonry and it is only a couple of bricks that need fixing, it is possible to undertake simple masonry repair work yourself — providing you can lay your hands on the correct tools and materials to accomplish a result that will be safe, durable and look the part.
However, masonry repair isn’t as simple as just knowing how to fill holes in brick or repair loose brick mortar. If you don’t have suitable experience and the job is anything more extensive, we strongly recommend calling in a qualified mason. This is really the only way to ensure the work is done to the highest standards and address root problems that might need resolving. Hiring a qualified professional is the only way to ensure your safety and protect your property in the long term.
How much does brick repair cost?
Many factors determine the final total for spalling brick repair cost or other types of brick repair masonry. These include:
- How much brickwork is affected
- The degree of damage to the brick and mortar
- The type of building materials (bricks and mortar) used
- The location of the repair on your building and any preparation or additional repairs necessary
To get a quote for brickwork repair on your property, call our specialists today to arrange a consultation.
Brick masonry repair costs can mount up — but one thing is for sure — repairing brick problems in a timely manner will be much cheaper than allowing the problem to grow and cause wider structural issues.
Masonry Chicago is based in Chicago and has been providing masonry repair services across the Chicago area for two decades. Our specialist masons have extensive experience and can handle all kinds of masonry repair projects for your home, business, or property. Some of the more common issues we resolve include:
- Cracks created by settling and aging or rusted beams and lintels
- Missing mortar
- Damaged or collapsing parapet walls
- Missing or damaged coping or and flashing
- Shifted or damaged front facade on any part of the building
- Regrinding masonry joints
- Replacing damaged brick
Unfortunately, problems that arise with bricks and mortar are often linked to substandard previous work by brick wall repair contractors — whether that is shoddy pointing or using inappropriate materials.
Our masonry repair and restoration specialists are frequently asked to step in and fix mistakes made by other companies who have cut corners in their work.
At Masonry Chicago, we treat your building as if it were our own, bringing our “A game” to every masonry repair project.
So, if you have any immediate masonry repair needs or simply want some advice or to enquire about our services, please don’t hesitate to contact us today and we will be happy to talk things over and arrange an on-site inspection by a mason if needed.
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