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Repairing Brickwork on older properties can provide help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, independent valuations, property surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, home buyers report’s or any other property matters.

Please Free Phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.

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Deteriorating brickwork and how to repair it

We have used brick to build for many years yet we still seem to have problems with it; we fairly regularly come across spalling and deteriorating brickwork and efflorescence.


Efflorescence is the white salt found on brickwork/stonework.  It is a natural phenomenon which is where the minerals in water as they dry out come to the surface of stone or brick and leave a white crystalised powder, almost flour like. On a red brick it can stand out considerably, almost appearing bright white and on a lighter white or yellow brick it can almost disappear.

House with severe efflorescence

Spalling, the most common deterioration we see

By far the most common deterioration we see on older brickwork is spalling, this is where the face is deteriorating. Often, we find this in softer red bricks which we say are more sponge like and absorb more water, as bricks do get damp and dry out despite what the chemical damp proofing industry would like you to believe. This is part of their function in older bricks to dissipate the dampness and help ensure you don’t get dampness inside.

Spalling Defined

Spalling occurs to brick or stone when water penetrates the surface and via freezing and thawing starts to cause deterioration to the surface. This in turn allows further water penetration and the surface breaks up further.  This ultimately can lead to water damage or structural damage to the area.

Spalling to red bricks

Weathering of joints

Over the years, joints tend to weather on brickwork, which are traditionally lime mortar joints which results in dampness being absorbed further into the structure.  Resolving the dampness effectively often depends upon the knowledge of the builder or specialist contractor.

Unfortunately, often a cement mortar is used for re-pointing where once it was lime mortar which is inappropriate and simply doesn’t work in the long term.  The cement mortar seals the dampness in the building rather than stopping it from escaping as it then makes the wall into a modern raincoat type building, rather than the older style Gortex.

Brickwork wrongly repointed in cement mortar

Close up of cement repointing

Bucket effect

In our experience, other problems can occur, for example, the brickwork can be rendered over with a cement mortar or ‘renovating plaster’, which are generally plasters with chemicals in them which are used internally and can create what is known as the ‘bucket effect’. This is where water is trapped inside for a considerable amount of time until it builds up and then you get marks on the walls.


Put simply the repair work to brickwork has to be appropriate for the age, type and style of the brick.

Call 0800 298 5424 for advice on repairing brickwork on older properties

Why have an independent building survey?

Always have an independent building survey as this will highlight any property problems. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

Remember the building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.


We would reiterate that we highly recommend you always make sure when you have a survey you meet your Surveyor at the property

Example Surveys

We feel that we have surveyed nearly every type of building, please phone us on 0800 298 5424 and we will email an example survey of the type of property you are looking to buy.

Commercial Property

If you are looking for commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold, we would recommend a survey as this will prevent dilapidations claims in the long run.   You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site, both of which we have been advised are very helpful!

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The contents of the website are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.