7 Residential Masonry Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Masonry work is essential for almost any home, and if done wrong, it can result in thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Brick homes are very sturdy, but they don’t last forever. From time to time, some masonry work is needed, and it’s important to do it right. Residential masonry mistakes can cause a lot of damage and be very costly to repair.

For 7 key residential masonry mistakes to avoid, keep reading.

1. Using the Wrong Mortar

Mortar is one of the most important masonry project materials, and it has changed somewhat over time. Newer builds use modern mortar, but this isn’t suitable when restoring a building that has older bricks.

Modern mortar is more readily available, and it looks better than old mortar, so a lot of people prefer it. Using it with old bricks, however, can lead to some serious problems. This is mainly because modern mortar is harder than traditional mortar.

When working on older bricks, lime mortar is ideal. The lime contains calcium and silicates that harden when water and heat are added. It works well as a skim coat, or you can mix it into cement-based compounds, producing a lime/cement mixture.

If you use modern mortar on old brickwork, cracks will form with time. You should always ensure any mortar you’re using is compatible with the bricks you’re working on. A professional will be able to advise you and take care of the work if needed.

2. Severe Efflorescence

Efflorescence can appear for a range of reasons, including:

  • Improper cement mixing
  • Groundwater infiltration via wall cracks
  • Chemical reactions from acid rain with certain paint coatings
  • Rusting metal

It’s generally a powdery salt deposit with a white appearance and an alkaline pH level. Sometimes it can also form as water droplets on bricks or mortar joints. When carrying out a residential masonry project there are some measures you can take to prevent efflorescence from forming.

Use caulk to seal any exterior gaps, preventing moisture from being able to get in. Flashing also keeps moisture out, so you should make sure you have this around doors and windows. Drip/weep holes can also help drain out water.

3. Corrosion and Rust

Most people wouldn’t expect masonry work to rust, but it’s more common than you might think. This happens when the mortar absorbs moisture from the air, and it can seep into the wall. The cracks caused by this can lower the structural integrity of the foundations of a building, so it’s very important to avoid this wherever possible.

This can be prevented with proper installation. The first part of this is getting the mortar mixture right – not too wet and not too dry when it’s applied. Bricks also need a 2-inch clearance from other materials on all sides as some shrinkage will occur while it’s drying.

After the job is finished, you should continue to check for corrosion occasionally. If you do notice any, you can deal with it before the issue becomes too serious.

4. Poorly Insulated Flashing

As mentioned above, flashing is key in keeping moisture out of your masonry work, preventing corrosion and other issues. If your flashing isn’t installed correctly and water gets in, it could lead to serious issues further down the line.

Inadequate weep holes are a fairly common problem with flashings, and this can be a few different things:

  • Holes that are too small
  • Holes in the wrong place
  • Too few holes

All of these issues will prevent condensation from escaping as steam. Flashings should always be installed with holes at least one inch from the bottom edge of the door or window and a minimum of 4 inches past either side.

5. Poor Maintenance

Almost all elements of a home will naturally degrade with time., masonry included. It’s important to carry out regular masonry maintenance to make sure everything is in good condition. Without such maintenance, small problems can easily go unnoticed until they have developed into much larger issues.

Things like erosion, cracks, and spalling are all much easier to fix if they’re found early. Keep an eye out for these problems, and repair them as soon as you can. Sandblasting and power washing are both good options for cleaning brick and mortar.

6. Waterproofing Old Bricks and Mortar

This is something that homeowners often do when carrying out DIY projects. It may seem like a good idea, as it theoretically adds more protection by keeping moisture out of the brickwork. It can, however, have the opposite effect.

By waterproofing the outside, any moisture that’s already in the bricks will become trapped, which can lead to further damage.

7. Not Hiring a Professional

The biggest mistake that people make when their home needs masonry work done is not hiring a professional residential masonry service. People will often take it upon themselves to carry out such jobs, but this is what often leads to many of the problems mentioned above.

Even small tasks like mixing mortar can result in serious problems if not done right. The main reason someone might try to do the work themselves is to save money, but the costs of repairs are often much higher than the cost of having a professional do the work in the first place.

Avoiding Residential Masonry Mistakes

If you’re going to do any masonry work yourself, you need to be careful to make sure everything is done right.

Your best option to avoid residential masonry mistakes is to hire a professional company like Imperial Landscaping & Masonry. Our team has the necessary skills and experience to handle any masonry tasks you need help with. If you have any questions about our services, click here to contact us today.