Repair brick steps
How to Repair Brick Steps: Masonry Chicago Guide
A Quick and Easy Guide to Repair Brick Steps
Brick steps are a beautiful addition to any home, giving much more curb appeal than concrete steps. However, like most things in life they are prone to wear and tear and will need to be repaired from time to time. If you are good at DIY and the damage isn’t too severe, fixing brick steps might be a task you can consider taking on yourself to save money. However, if you are unsure of the type of mortar used or want to make sure they are as solid as possible, you can contact masonry experts, Masonry Chicago, to help you out. Call 773-231-5371 or email [email protected]
Why do my brick steps need to be repaired?
There are many reasons why your brick steps might need to be repaired or even replaced, but in general, it comes down to use, time or weather.
With normal day-to-day use of people walking up and down the stairs, brick steps should last for many years. However, if your steps are subject to heavier traffic, for example, a delivery hand truck or trolley being pulled up the stairs on a regular basis, they may well start showing signs of damage quickly.
If you have an older building your steps may have been in use for a long time. General wear and tear and time cause the mortar to break down, leaving you with loose bricks and uneven surfaces. Bricks can also crack and need to be replaced.
Bricks are quite porous so prone to rain and weather damage. Extremes of heat and cold, as well as moisture, can cause the bricks to expand and contract, cracking them. Weather can also wear away at mortar, which is responsible for holding the bricks together.
How to repair brick steps?
We recommend that before you begin repairs you have suitable supplies including:
- Spare bricks
- Wire brush
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
Assess the situation
The first step when repairing brick steps is to see exactly what needs to be done:
- Are any of the bricks damaged? If your bricks are only mildly damaged and there are no large sections missing you may be able to add more mortar to fill any small gaps.
- Will you need to buy replacement bricks? If some of the bricks are missing or badly damaged you may need to buy replacements. When buying replacement bricks it’s important to get the right size and as close to the original color as possible.
What type of mortar was used? As long as your brickwork is less than 50 years old it should use modern portland-cement mortar. However, if you are repairing older and more historical brick steps they may have employed traditional lime mortar.
We recommend that, if there’s a chance that lime mortar was used, you contact a masonry expert, like Masonry Chicago, to assess the mortar before work begins. Using the wrong type of mortar can cause damage in the long run. If you have two types of mortar in your brickwork they will react differently to the temperature or weather causing your brick steps to crack and buckle.
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If you have some loose bricks that need to be removed and replaced, or you need to replace some broken bricks these are the steps you should follow:
- To repair broken brick steps, first, remove any broken or loose bricks. You may need to use a chisel to break off any mortar that is holding the bricks in place.
- Once all the damaged bricks have been removed, clear away the old mortar in the area you are repairing. We recommend wearing gloves and safety goggles. Use a hammer and chisel, but be careful to avoid damaging any of the other bricks.
- Dampen the bricks and the area you will be putting them on – this stops the dry bricks from soaking up moisture from the mortar which causes the mortar to dry out too rapidly.
- Make up your mortar mix following the manufacturer instructions, and cover the surface where the bricks will sit with new mortar, using a brick trowel. Try and match the thickness of the mortar to the existing steps.
- Place the bricks in position in the wet mortar tapping them into position so all the brick faces are in line with each other. Then wipe away any excess mortar with your trowel.
- Make sure the mortar is totally dry before using the steps.
If the main problem is cracked and worn mortar you can use tuck-pointing to repair the mortar.
- Remove the old mortar using your chisel. Ensure that you have at least 3/4 inches of space in the mortar joints for the new mortar to create a solid bond.
- Use a stiff-bristled brush to clean away the old mortar and then dampen the steps with water.
- Mix the mortar and use your trowel to fill the joints. You can push it firmly into the joints using a tuck-pointing tool or piece of wood.
- Wait for the mortar to fully dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to repair brick steps?
If you decide to repair or repoint brick steps yourself, expect to spend about $8-$12 per square foot on materials. If you look for a company to do brick steps repair near me you will probably pay from $22 – $48 per square foot.
How do you fix exterior brick steps?
Depending on the level of damage, when you ask yourself how to fix brick steps, you may need to replace some broken bricks, or just repoint the mortar between the bricks.
First, you need to clear away the old mortar and then use new mortar to fill the gaps.
Can you repair crumbling brick?
While it is possible to repair a crumbling brick, if it is very badly crumbled it is often best to simply replace the damaged brick with a new brick. If you do decide to try and repair the brick you can use mortar to repair the damaged areas. Please be aware that this repair is unlikely to last as long as laying a new brick.
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