Efflorescence and Brick Slips - Don’t Panic!
So, you’ve installed your Brick Slips and it looks amazing. Whether you’ve installed them outdoors or indoors, there is no denying that they completely transform your space. However, efflorescence as it is known is something that can appear on brick slips although there is only a small chance that this could happen. Despite this, when it does happen, don’t panic because it’s not what it seems.
We have probably all seen efflorescence but have not realised what it is but it’s the white substance that appears on brickwork, something that is commonly seen on new build properties. It’s the natural crystalline transition and deposit of salts that can form when moisture is found in the brick slip and substrate compound. It has a white, powdery look and is made up of mineral and salt deposits that are left behind when the water evaporates.
What Really Does Cause Efflorescence in Brick Slips?
Mortars, sands, cements and substrates all contain water-soluble salts and minerals and these are naturally transported via a process known as osmosis. When this takes place, it’s because the brick slips and compounds retain moisture and so when this evaporates, the sals then crystalise and this leads to efflorescence.
When it Happens on Internal Brick Slips
Efflorescence naturally occurs not too long after installation has taken place. This is because the heating within the home will dry the brick slips and mortars and that’s when it can occur.
When it Happens on External Brick Slips
When this takes place externally, it is something that is considered to be a seasonal problem, especially where humidity is apparent as this will play a role in the appearance of soluble salts. This can usually begin in winter when brick slips are exposed to rain, ice, snow and sleet. However, the problem can arise during all of the other months depending on the weather.
The Main Causes of Efflorescence
The main instigators when it comes to efflorescence is sand and cement. Cement has a high level of alkali and this is more likely to efflorescence than other forms of adhesive. However, it is worth remembering that most forms of cement will contain water-soluble alkaline, which means that almost all cement is likely to be susceptible to efflorescence.
Another cause of efflorescence is sand and this is used in mortar and is not water-soluble. In contrast to this, sand can be contaminated with a material that can exacerbate the problem. In building projects, if you choose to use sand that is washed and clean and is free from contamination then you could prevent or reduce the likelihood of efflorescence from developing.
Removing Efflorescence - How to do it
If you want to remove efflorescence from your brick slips then some of the best ways are:
Using pressurised water - Pressurised water can only be used externally but it can help the efflorescence to dissolve quickly. If you use water, dry it as much as possible because if you fail to do this then it could only lead to the problem reappearing.
Diluted Vinegar - If you're looking for another solution, using diluted white vinegar can help. It isn’t a harmful chemical and it’s likely that you already have this in your kitchen.
Brushing - If you use a strong brush, you can work the efflorescence off the brick and leave it looking like new.
It’s a relatively quick and simple process to remove efflorescence but remember that it is a natural process. What’s more, efflorescence can disappear on its own over time, so it is worth keeping this in mind.
Finally, when you do decide to remove efflorescence of your brick slips, you should do it when the weather is warm and dry. This is because adding more moisture will ensure the salts can be brought to the surface before making it possible for you to brush it off.