Once you’ve decided to create a beautiful feature at your home with reclaimed historical bricks, your next concern will be how to maintain the beauty. Because these bricks have endured decades of weathering and wear, the care you need to provide now should be pretty minimal. But here is some advice on how proper brick care and maintenance can keep your old reclaimed bricks beautiful for many years to come.
Brick walls will require very little care, depending upon if they are inside or outside. Let’s look at some examples:
- Interior Fireplace: Of course, you want to do your standard cleaning of the interior of your fireplace. Hiring a professional chimney sweep to clean your flue annually is a must to keep your home safe from fire. The chimney sweep also likely will offer to do a thorough cleaning of the fireplace chamber to ensure it’s not getting a buildup of creosote. Between those cleanings, you can keep it neat and tidy with an occasional washing with mild detergent and a natural or synthetic brush. Use of wire brushes on bricks is discouraged because it can damage the seal created by firing the bricks and allow more damage to occur. Dusting and washing, again with mild soap, should be sufficient for the external, indoors portion of your fireplace.
- Interior Walls: Dusting should be sufficient for interior walls in most rooms, but you can wash them with a mild soap and brush when necessary.
- Kitchen Backsplash: This feature has been gaining popularity in homes. Of course, a brick wall here is going to attract more dirt and grease, so you will need to wash it more frequently. Detergent is the safest option to use when you need to remove grease from your brick backsplash. If you have a more stubborn stain, you can apply a diluted detergent mix to the wall and let it rest for 10 or 15 minutes, then wash off. If the grease stain remains, you can use trisodium phosphate. This is a very strong chemical, so use it with caution. Mix a half of a cup of the chemical with one gallon of water and apply to the wall. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and wash the wall thoroughly afterward to remove all traces of the chemical so it cannot continue to corrode the brick. Again, this is a last resort, so be careful.
- Exterior Walls: Your exterior walls could use a good power washing about once per year (spring is a great time after the winter has finished its abuse of your brick). If you have areas near the ground or that are in contact with vegetation that might have a buildup of mold or mildew, you will want to scrub those areas with a mild detergent and natural or synthetic brush. Again, avoid using a steel brush as these can leave metal residue that will rust and stain your bricks. Sandblasting is not recommended for bricks as it can weaken the bricks and cause further damage in the future. When you wash your walls, it’s also a good time to check for damage to the mortar. This can be fixed with re-pointing, but it’s best to have a professional do this work to protect your investment in your home.
One advantage of using reclaimed brick pavers over new bricks is that your bricks will have decades of wear and the character that comes with that wear. They also will have withstood the elements and were fired at a time when they were meant to last. Therefore, your historical brick pavers will need very little extra care.
Keeping the bricks free of debris that can trap moisture is your best method to ensure a long life, so you can sweep them with a natural or synthetic fiber broom as needed. Washing the bricks with a hose is normally sufficient, but you also could consider having them professionally power washed once per year. We recommend having a professional do this as they can wash with less pressure, causing less loss of sand between the pavers.
For driveways, you can remove oil and grease with a professional absorbent or cat litter then wash with a mild detergent.
Another good precaution to take with your brick pavers during the spring is to level the surface to prevent water from standing on the bricks. After the winter of freezing and thawing, you could have some low or high areas. If you remove the bricks, you can level the area with sand and replace the bricks. Cover the areas with sand and sweep it to return sand between the pavers.
With proper brick care and maintenance, your old reclaimed bricks will continue to add character to your home for decades to come. Contact us if you would like more information on brick care or if you are interested in finding out more about using reclaimed bricks for a project at your home.