WHAT IS BRICK CLEANING?
It is the process required to clean Masonry bricks that have been layed by a Brick layer.
If you are building a residential house, or commercial building or even just renovating and are using Clay Bricks or Pavers, you most certainly will require the services or a Brick Cleaner once the bricklayer has completed their job. The best way to ensure that you can reduce problems and costs associated with brick cleaning is to use an experience bricklayer who has a good reputation and understanding of the correct mortar ratios and delivers good quality clean work.
The removal of mortar residues, smears and various stains that appear within the brickwork requires the services of a qualified professional, and using the services of an inexperienced handyman may cause irreparable damage to the brick work and mortar and will even void the warranty from the brick manufacturer.
Using a Brick Cleaner that is accredited and licenced means that Builders within NSW will have their work warranted by the manufacturer whose bricks were cleaned, making it essential that any reputable builder would ensure that they use a qualified professional for the job.
It also means that you are using trained qualified professionals who have the knowledge and practical experience relating to, and within the industry to understand the correct procedures and technique’s required to be undertaken when assessing and identifying the removal methods appropriate for the removal of brick mortar, stains etc.
Employing the services of licensed qualified Brick Cleaner will ensure that the appearance of your Clay Bricks or Pavers won’t become damaged or spoilt, due to use of incorrect cleaning techniques or chemicals.
WHAT ARE THE TECHNIQUES?
High Pressure Water Cleaning
This method is the most effective and widely used method. Extreme caution must be exercised by the professional to ensure that bricks and mortar joints are not damaged by the process. When using this method is it best if brick work is at least three day old before completed to achieve acceptable results, avoid mortar joint damage.
This method was commonly used before the invention of high pressure water equipment, and may be used on smaller jobs or where the use of high pressure cleaning can cause damage. When using this method it is possible to start cleaning after 24 to 36 hours after the completion of the bricklaying.
WHAT IS USED AND HOW IS IT APPLIED?
Hydrochloric Acid Application
An acid solution of hydrochloric acid and water at a recommended strength is used in the cleaning process. Its main function is to dissolve the cement in the mortar mix left covering the brick work to allow effective cleaning. We have designed an application technique that is unique to our business that eliminates the overspray which causes unnecessary damage to surrounding property, fences, vehicles and other metal surfaces, that you would normally experience when the spraying technique is used by other brick cleaners.
N.B. When Queensland bricks are used, the bricks must be neutralised immediately after the application of the acid in order to avoid burning, however due to the nature of the bricks even after this process has been undertaken minimal burning may still occur, and removal of this staining will be an additional cost as it is a property of this type of Brick.
If the mortar requires a stronger use of acid concentration due to the mortar ratios being incorrectly mixed making it harder than usual, iron oxide stains will appear, this is because Queensland bricks are manufactured with natural raw materials and contain large amounts of iron oxide just below the surface of the face of the brick. If this occurs an additional procedure with different chemicals solutions will need to be undertaken in order to remove the staining.
WHAT IS ACID BURN?
Acid Burn (Iron oxide stain) is the formation of a yellow, orange or brown rust like stain that occurs on the face of the brick which may also leach into the mortar joint, casued by the reaction between the iron oxides in the brick and/or motar sand and hydrochloric acid application.
Acid Burn can result due to a number of factors, the most common being:
- Failure to saturate bricks thoroughly with water before the application of acid.
- Failure to rinse of Acid thoroughly after the process.
- Failure to perform the neutralising process when required with high iron content bricks e.g. Queensland Bricks.
- Working in the direct sunlight.
An additional process and chemical application technique can be used to remove this burn and acceptable results can be achieved.
WHAT IS CALCIUM STAINING?
The most common appearance of these stains is due to the setting reactions of the Portland cement and bricklaying sand containing clay. Calcium silicate forms, from mixing the clay from the mortar and the calcuim and silica from the cement together, leaving a white insoluable deposit which appears like a milky film across the surface of the brick and is invisible when wet. It can also form from a clay mineral call Kaolin which is present in most bricklaying sands.
Staining may occur when:
- Wet sponging or mortar smearing over the face of the brick leaving a film across the brick creating staining.
- Newly laid brick work is laid and left unprotected to the elements such as rain, often are wet before the roof is in place, resulting in calcium leaching from the mortar joint.
Calcium staining can be removed with an additional chemical process and removal technique.
WHAT IS VANADIUM STAINING?
Vanadium staining is a yellow, green or redish-brown stain that appears due to a number of factors from the content of the brick. The most common being the vandium salt from the clay within the brick surfaces to the face of the brick from water penetration and hydrochloric acid use during the brick cleaning process.
Neutralising is the most effective removal method of the stain and is an additional process required to achieve the desired finish.
WHAT IS EFFLORESCENCE?
Efflorescence is a salt which forms, and is therefore not a stain, it has a white powdery "fluffy" appearance. It most commonly forms on the porous surface of new masonry work. Efflorescence forms due to the presence of solubale salts within the masonry, water entering the masonry and the evaporation of the water from the masonry as it dries out, leaving the white deposits behind.
Various sources can also contribute to the salt appearing such as, cement components within the mortar, soil or fill in contact with the wall, sea spray, poor copings and flashings, exposure to rain during the brick laying process, poor storage of masonry bricks prior to laying allowing the absorption of the natural salts and minerals from the ground whilst stock piled. If salts are present in the masonry brick any of the above will activate their prescence.
Generally where water is capable of entering the masonry the formation of efflorescence will appear.
Efflorescence removal is an additional process, however reoccurance may result if the salts remain present and react with water absorption.
WHAT ARE MANGANESE STAINS?
Manganese Stains appear as a dark-blue brown stain and are from the addition of manganese during the manufacturing process of brick that require grey or brown colouring. They surface when water penetrates the brick.
The stain can be removed, however it may return over a relatively short period of time.
CAN GRAFFITI AND PAINT BE REMOVED?
Graffiti and paint stains can be removed, however this can be a difficult process, especially if the stains are old.
A combination of techniques can be used to remove these types of stains.
CAN TIMBER STAINS BE REMOVED?
Timber stains are usually brown or grey and occur commonly from hardwood becoming wet and spreading the tannin and resin from within the wood across the masonry surface.
A process can be conducted to effectively remove these types of stains successfully.