Cleaning Brick Siding

small brick houseIf you’ve just moved into a new property and are concerned that some of the brick siding is looking rather shabby and unsightly you can improve its appearance simply by cleaning brick siding that’s not looking at its best. Alternatively if you’ve been living in the property for some while, regularly cleaning brick siding will not only help to keep the appearance of your property looking smart but could also just prevent any lasting damage to it.

You’ll find a bewildering number of brick cleaners at your DIY store, but do read the instructions carefully to make sure they’ll do the cleaning job that you need. Meanwhile, below are some tips on some of the more common cleaning brick siding methods.

Cleaning Efflorescence off Brick Siding

On new brick sidings in particular you can often see white feathery crystals starting to grow that look like damp salt. This staining is called efflorescence and is caused by rainwater soaking into the bricks and dissolving salts in them.

Due to the porous nature of the bricks this salt solution finds its way to the bricks surface, where the water evaporates leaving behind crystals of the salts. Efflorescence is not harmful to your brick siding, but it is unsightly.

Fortunately efflorescence can be easily removed by brushing it with a stiff bristled broom. However, you shouldn’t use a wire brush, as it could dislodge the mortar between the bricks. If the efflorescence returns it simply means that you might need to treat the whole brick siding with a neutralizing solution. These are easily obtainable from your DIY store or builder’s merchant and should be liberally applied, possibly in two or three coats, with a 4 inch brush.

You might be tempted to simply hose down the brick siding to force out the salts in one go, but don’t. Domestic water contains chemicals that will only exasperate the situation.

Cleaning Vegetation Stains

A particular problem if you’ve had a prolonged period of wet weather and you have plants growing adjacent to your brick siding or, even worse climbing up your brick siding, is vegetation stains. First clean the brick siding with a stiff bristled broom to remove any loose material. You’ve then got a choice of two things to do to treat the brick siding.

The old fashioned way is to apply household bleach over the effective area or you can buy one of the new colorless fungicide treatments from your DIY store. Whichever you choose to do, apply it in dry weather so that the application has time to work before being diluted by the next rainfall.

Cleaning Rust on Brick Sidings

It might seem odd but you can get rust stains on brick sidings whether or not you’ve got any ironwork fixed to it. If the rust stains only appear in the mortar of the brick siding it’s caused by particles of Ironstone in the mortar’s sand leeching out. Alternatively you might see rust staining anywhere on the brick siding where you’ve got Iron brackets for plant or lamp holders etc.

To clean rust staining from the mortar you’ll need to rake it out and re-point it. If the rust staining is caused by Ironwok on the siding, take the ironwork down, clean it thoroughly to remove any surface rust then prime and seal it with a specialist Ironwork paint. If there are any rust stains on the bricks themselves, scrub them hard with a damp hard bristled brush.

Photo by Till Krech, Creative Commons Attribution License