Bricklaying can be one of the most satisfying DIY projects to complete. However, there are a few common pitfalls that you need to avoid if you do not have experience with bricklaying. Here are four of the most common masonry mistakes, and what you can do to avoid them.
Choosing the Wrong Mortar
Not every mortar is compatible with every type of brick. This problem usually presents itself when you decide to repair or add a new section to an existing brick wall. If your home is old enough, you may find that the wall was made with lime mortar, a much more porous type of mortar than the now-common portland cement.
The consequences of using rigid portland cement alongside porous lime mortar may not be obvious, but are disastrous when they take effect. Each section of the wall with a different type of mortar will expand and contract at a different rate. This can cause the lime mortar section of the wall to crumble prematurely. Always use a matching mortar to repair or add on to old brickwork to avoid serious structural integrity problems.
Improper Flashing Installation
Flashing serves an essential job for brick structures by preventing water from accumulating inside the brickwork. However, even the smallest installation mistakes can prevent flashing from doing its job correctly and cause a collapse.
One of the most common flashing installation mistakes is spacing the weep holes too far apart. Keeping your weep holes less than two feet away from each other will ensure that water hits the strips of flashing and is removed from the wall properly. Another problem that can potentially cause water damage is neglecting to add dams to the ends of the flashing. This will cause water to flow sideways off of the flashing and back into the wall.
Waterproof Coating Old Bricks
You may think that by waterproofing existing brickwork, you are protecting it from the effects of moisture buildup. However, you could actually be creating an environment that is perfect for water damage to take place. When you add a waterproof coating to brickwork, it locks in any moisture that is already in or on the brickwork.
It is best to leave brickwork uncoated if at all possible, but in some situations you will have no choice but to add a coating to prevent additional moisture damage. In this case, you will need to look for a breathable water-repellant sealer. These sealers will protect brickwork from water damage while also allowing the moisture that is already in the wall to evaporate and escape.
Damaging Brickwork Through Cleaning
While regular maintenance will always be necessary to maximize the lifespan of your brickwork, it is possible to do more harm than good if you clean brickwork incorrectly. Cleaning brickwork often requires high-pressure, abrasive cleaning methods, but it is best to use the gentlest cleaning method that is effective to remove efflorescence and other imperfections.
Two methods of cleaning brickwork that can easily cause damage are powerwashing and sand blasting. Before you begin power washing, it is a good idea to consult with a masonry contractor who can recommend safe cleaners based on the age of your brickwork and your specific needs. Likewise, a masonry contractor will be able to recommend soft sand blasting materials that will clean dirt and grime off your brickwork without stripping away layers of the bricks themselves.
Completing your own DIY bricklaying project can greatly improve the appearance of your home without the expense of hiring a professional. Keep these tips in mind when you start your project so that it is successful and problem-free.
Click for more information on masonry projects.