Maintaining & Repairing Masonry

Remove old stone

Brick, stone, concrete, and tile can take a beating, and a well-made masonry structure promises years of enjoyment and carefree service. However outdoor masonry stands exposed to the ravages of time and weather. Even the best structures need occasional maintenance and care.

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Masonry surfaces can crack, chip, spall, or pop out. Mortared stone walls fall victim to water and ice; the cap and top courses are prone to cracks more than anywhere else. After 20 or 30 years, a brick or block wall starts to show its age. If it doesn't crack, mortar simply wears away until it is unsightly and compromises the strength of the wall. Untended cracks in patios or walks allow water to erode the supporting soil or sand and may become homes for annoying weeds. Ice that forms within cracks can lift and damage even the heaviest of surfaces, as can plant roots.

The best maintenance is preventive, and one of the best solutions for avoiding large-scale repairs is to establish and follow a maintenance schedule. Proper maintenance carried out regularly adds years to your enjoyment of the masonry. Inspect the surface every three months or so: Check for damage, stains, loose mortar, and weeds growing where they shouldn't be. The inspection will take five minutes or less, but it will save you time and money if you attend to the problems when you discover them.

Be wary of any damage, even if it first appears superficial. Broken tile, cracked grout or mortar joints, and weeds might indicate a simple surface problem, but they might also be a result of more serious trouble in the structure or its base. Always assess the cause of the damage before making repairs. That way you won't cover up the real cause of the problem -- the one that will cost more to repair later.


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