Brick & Concrete ProtectionCategories: Building Restoration, Commercial Services, Strata Services
Waterproofing concrete & brick
Brick and concrete walls naturally absorb moisture. While some water absorption is fine, significant moisture can lead to efflorescence, freeze / thaw damage, and cracking and deteriorating mortar joints.
Yet sometimes the best coating for concrete and brick is no coating at all. Coatings leave a film on the surface that can discolor, deteriorate, or peel if not maintained. Clear sealers and waterproofing solutions can protect surfaces and prevent water from moving through the exterior walls without changing the appearance of the surface. This protection can slow the rusting of metal reinforcement (rebar) in the concrete, and protect interior areas from water penetration.
Most waterproofing sealers penetrate deeply, without putting a thick coating on your building, and often are completely invisible. This reduces future maintenance, as there is no paint to peel or flake, and retains the existing look of the building. Typically, a high quality penetrating sealer that is properly applied will provide protection for 5 to 10 years.
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The science of clear sealers
The most common way to seal concrete and brick is through the application of a clear sealer that contains two main chemicals: silane and siloxane. Part of the silicone family, these chemicals penetrate into the brick or concrete and leave no visible residue on the surface. This allows the surface to remain unaffected in color and appearance while gaining the ability to keep moisture out.
The chemicals are supplied in a water-based and VOC compliant solution. Application is commonly by a low- pressure sprayer with a full saturation of the surface to allow the chemicals to penetrate. Both vertical and horizontal surfaces can be treated and protected with these products.
Stains & concrete efflorescence
Often brick and concrete block surfaces are subject to white, powdery efflorescence stains. These stains are caused by water penetrating the porous surface and then leaching out soluble salts in the mortar.
We typically remove efflorescence with an acid wash (using a muriatic or oxalic acid) and a stiff brush, and then rinsing well to neutralize. We can also treat other stains and marks with appropriate cleaners at this time.
A good review of the grout is essential to providing a well-sealed surface. This multistory building in Vancouver required brick re-pointing (repair of the grout), renewal of caulking at each floor (cold joints) before the application of a clear sealer to the brick and the concrete.
Usually the efflorescence will return unless the brick is sealed with a penetrating water repellent. The sealer stops the water intrusion, and minimizes future efflorescence.
On this Vancouver project pictured below, we were able to remove most of the efflorescence and then seal the brick with Fabrishield #761 water repellent to prevent it from reappearing.
Another option for brick is re-coloring the surface. Older heritage buildings may have faded and stained, or you just may want to change the color of the brick. Solid color stains, including decorative treatments by Nawkaw Corporation, can change the color of masonry without recurring maintenance concerns. The results are as permanent as the masonry, and Remdal can prepare and complete the work for you as approved installers of this product.
Visit Our Work project pages to see some of our work in action, and let us show our expertise to you.
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