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Old 11-21-2008, 07:40 PM   #1
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Sealing historic brick


OK, I've got a real tough question, but I'm hoping someone has the experience to share.

Short story:
I live in historic German village. Like many home there, they have exposed the inner brick. It looks nice, but the brick and mortar is constantly shedding a fine grit. Is there a way I can seal the brick and mortar without ruining the look and integrity of the brick?

Long Story:
We recently moved into historic German Village and purchased a home dating anywhere from 1868 to 1900. It's built with a course of yellow brick (lime), a plenum space and a course of red brick. The house was never intended to have the inner brick layer exposed and used a much looser lesser glazed brick than you would use on the outside of a house.

On most external walls the plaster has been removed to showcase the brick walls. Over the years some of the walls have been re-tuckpointed using a more modern concrete mortar mix than the flexible lime mix used 140 years ago. Unfortunately the harder mortar with the softer brick is a bad combination causing more damage than cure.

There is a large amount of brick deterioration and we get a constant amount of grit fallout. It's a real pain, makes a lot of mess and is terrible on the wood floors.




Pictures of the brick work can be seen here

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Old 11-22-2008, 02:40 PM   #2
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Sealing historic brick


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Originally Posted by tenzo View Post
OK, I've got a real tough question, but I'm hoping someone has the experience to share.

Short story:
I live in historic German village. Like many home there, they have exposed the inner brick. It looks nice, but the brick and mortar is constantly shedding a fine grit. Is there a way I can seal the brick and mortar without ruining the look and integrity of the brick?

Long Story:
We recently moved into historic German Village and purchased a home dating anywhere from 1868 to 1900. It's built with a course of yellow brick (lime), a plenum space and a course of red brick. The house was never intended to have the inner brick layer exposed and used a much looser lesser glazed brick than you would use on the outside of a house.

On most external walls the plaster has been removed to showcase the brick walls. Over the years some of the walls have been re-tuckpointed using a more modern concrete mortar mix than the flexible lime mix used 140 years ago. Unfortunately the harder mortar with the softer brick is a bad combination causing more damage than cure.

There is a large amount of brick deterioration and we get a constant amount of grit fallout. It's a real pain, makes a lot of mess and is terrible on the wood floors.




Pictures of the brick work can be seen here
As you say, the inner course was never intended to be exposed, so I would restore it to what the builder intended!
I would assume this to be a plaster coat!

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Old 11-22-2008, 03:04 PM   #3
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Sealing historic brick


Some history first. When brick were fired in stationary kilns, the heat was not consistent. The brick that were fired to a higher heat were vitrified and used on exterior surfaces, and the lesser fired bricks, known as "salmons" for their color were used to build inner whythes and interior walls (which were then generally plastered). The salmons are not vitrified and so are soft.

The lime mortar used is calcified and would not dust had the exterior walls not been tuckpointed with an impervious modern cement mortar. This will certainly destroy the wall sooner rather than later. To solve your problem there are consolidators on the market for restoration. Google "brick consolidation" or "mortar consolidation". These products will work without changing the appearance as would any sealer that would serve the same purpose.
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