Frequently Asked Questions
From your description, your brickwork is showing signs of efflorescence. This is a deposit of crystallized salts which may appear on the brickwork as it dries out. There is no cause for alarm. The deposit will probably wash off in the first shower of rain. If not, it can be removed with a firm bristle brush. There is absolutely no need to use chemicals, acids or any other proprietary treatment to remove/neutralise white soluble salts.
Clay face bricks are a natural product. Depending on the clay type and firing process, colour variation can occur within any production batch of bricks. Aesthetically it is not desireable to have a few dark bricks on an otherwise light shaded wall or visa versa. This gives the patchy effect that you mention. The solution is simple. Always have at least two packs of bricks on site and draw from each pack as you work. This is known as on-site blending and will help achieve an overall evenness of shade and tone. When undertaking new projects, avoid building from one pack of bricks at a time.
It is extremely rare to find brick walls that leak due to a fault in the brick. Damp through the wall is usually the result of poor construction techniques, inadequate window and sill detailing, lack of proper damp proof coursing and/or cracked walls. Buildings must be properly constructed with appropriate damp coursing, cavity walls where appropriate and suitable roof overhangs, this to limit the flow of rain water onto the walls and the potential that offers for water ingress. NB: A cracked exterior face brick wall will not lead to water penetration if correct waterproofing techniques have been followed.
Generally speaking, loads imposed on brickwork are very small in comparison with the load which the brickwork carries. Brickwork is strong under compression, so the greater the load imposed on the brickwork, the more stable it becomes. When building boundary walls and other free-standing brick structure make sure that you provide appropriate foundations and reinforcing.
During construction, it is best to take measures to protect the brickwork from cement smear, paint and other substances. Ideally, brickwork should be laid to avoid mortar smear and where motar smear might take place, it should be removed at the end of the day with a clean, damp cloth.
Because brickwork is the largest visible component of a building, the perception exists that the major cost of a building must be the brickwork. However, this is not the case. They are in fact extremely cost effective. The cost of clay plaster bricks and clay face bricks for an average house is between 6% and 8% of the total building costs. The cost of clay face bricks and plaster bricks for a non-residential building (factory or office block) is approx 2% - 3% of the total building costs. In the case of clay face brick building, once the plaster and paint component is added to the building process and the long term maintenance cost of repainting and replastering is added to the life of the building, clay face brick is a clear cost winner.
Take a look at our brick calculator to work out the amount of materials you would need.