Brick Spalling

Here we have an example of brick spalling from a recent project we worked on in Cork City Centre.

When analysing an issue such as this it is important to look at the evidence. In this case, the mortar joints in the area mostly affected have been worn away allowing moisture infiltration.

The brick has also been painted which can lead to moisture being trapped in the bricks and with freeze/thaw action can lead to blowing out of the surface to relieve the pressure.

There is however a further possible contributing factor. The bricks used in this building were frogged meaning they had an indentation on the bricks formed when the bricks were moulded or pressed. Generally, a frog was formed to reduce the weight of the brick, thereby requiring less material in the construction, reduced the drying/firing time for the brick and also allowed a space for the mortar when laying.

A possible downside to the frog is that it can conceivably hold water in the indentation which can add to the freeze/thaw issue, particularly where the mortar has been worn away.

How can brick spalling be prevented?

As with most issues with heritage and traditional buildings, regular maintenance is paramount.

Protect your bricks from moisture. This means making sure that your gutters and downpipes are properly working to divert water away. Ensure that mortar joints are repaired or repointed if necessary.

Inspect your bricks regularly. Look for any signs of spalling, such as cracks, peeling, or crumbling. If you see any signs of damage, you should have a professional repair the bricks as soon as possible.

If you are looking for advice on how to protect your brickwork or any other part of your historic building, call us today to book a consultation with one of our experts.

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