Brightening up Battered Bricks

Monday, 5th June 2023

It’s natural for brickwork to fade over time –the sun, along with dirt and the elements, take their toll on the surface of the material.

Small improvements can quickly enhance the appearance of tired and faded brickwork and the best way to start is to give your walls a really deep clean with a pressure washer.  You can hire pressure washers which use water, or cleaning products, and they quickly wash away dirt and grime with very little effort on your part.  Generally, it is best to start at the top of the wall and work your way down.

Mould and algae may need some scrubbing and a little elbow grease in order to get rid of it completely

It is worthwhile, before you start, to clear away anything that could be damaged by high pressure water

Also, always follow the directions carefully.  It may be that mortar on old walls will not be able to stand the pressure and could therefore be easily damaged.  In which case, you will need to clean the bricks by hand.

Next, check for cracks, chips or loose or missing pieces and fill with mortar.  If the damage is substantial, then you may need to consider replacing sections of the wall.  To remove individual bricks, use a hammer and mason’s chisel to carefully work the brick out.  You could then choose a different look altogether, such as the use of stone or contrasting brick, or other materials such as wood or plastic.  This is a good way to add character to your walls, especially around features such as windows and doors.

Sealants are an efficient and effective way to bring back and maintain the colour of your brickwork.  They can be applied with a pneumatic sprayer if you are dealing with a large area.  Always follow the instructions, as some sealants only need one coat, whereas others need multiple applications. Drying time is also important.   As a general rule, the bricks will need at least 24 hours to dry, but it may take up to 72 hours for the sealant to soak into the brick and dry properly.  Plastic sheeting may be necessary if you think it’s likely to rain.

Another simple way to make your walls look completely different is by adding a coat of paint.  This is an easily affordable way to bring tired, worn or outdated brickwork back to life.  You will need to buy a high-quality paint that is specially designed to be used outside.  Latex paint is recommended as it allows your brickwork to breathe and so last longer.  Take a little time over your choice of colours.  It needs to look good in all lights.  Darker shades tend to have a traditional look, whereas lighter colours can give your home a modern feel.

If you use a paint sprayer, it will quickly add coats of paint evenly and smoothly.

However, if you want to paint a small number of bricks without covering the mortar between them, then you might consider painting individually, by hand, with a ood masonry paint.  The colour of paint you choose is crucial; it needs to be as exact a match as possible to the colour of your brickwork.

What about some accessories?  The key thing here to remember is that ‘less is sometimes more’.  Adding too much clutter to your exterior walls will undo all your good renovation work.

To add contrast and interest, you might like to consider window boxes, shutters, a new house number or a plaque with your house name.  Any of these touches can give a plain wall personality as well as individuality, and not forgetting the all-important kerb appeal.