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How To Protect Exterior Brick

Whether or not to seal your brick home has been a subject of debate. Those against sealing your brickwork argue that a properly designed and constructed brick home is meant to breathe. Those in favor of sealing brick point to the effects of water in breaking down the brick, mortar, and most often, the joint between the brick and mortar.

Regardless of the side one takes; the primary concern is moisture penetration. The issues that arise from moisture are twofold: breakdown of the joints and fungal growth in the form of mold. Today we are going to talk through each of these scenarios and present a third alternative that we embrace at LIME Painting of Chicago.

Let it breathe!

The argument for those in favor of leaving brick exposed is based on the way that walls are designed. A professionally designed brick home has a cavity between the brick outer leaf and the inner leaf of the home. This cavity prevents the moisture that penetrates the outer leaf from getting through to the interior of the home.

With this design, the brick gets wet during wind driven rain and dries out once the storm has passed. The water gets into the brick but does not go any further into the house. The cavity prevents the formation of mold in any construction materials used for the inner leaf of the house.

Of course, as a homeowner you are leaving the brick and mortar exposed to the elements, so they will deteriorate over time. The effects of wind driven rain and snow are most pronounced in the joints themselves; you can find the mortar recessed almost an inch from the face of the brick on older homes! However, you can also see the wear on the smooth surface of the bricks.

In addition, there is a risk of moisture remaining in the bricks, and a sudden temperature change can cause that moisture to freeze. The expansion of water during freezing can lead to small failure points in the brick and mortar that become more problematic over time.

Seal it up!

Those in favor of sealing exposed brick recognize the toll that mother nature takes on their home. They are looking to slow that wear and mitigate future costs in tuckpointing to repair the mortar joints as well as prevent any structural failures.

A fresh brick sealant properly applied also prevents any concerns with mold forming, as well as the cosmetic benefits of slowing the formation of alkali and efflorescence on the bricks themselves.

Problems arise as the sealant wears away unequally over time. This means that parts of your brick will start to breathe again while the majority of the wall remains sealed. This causes the brick to dry out slower, thus increasing the risk of mold forming down the road once your sealant starts wearing away. The wear won’t be obvious to the naked eye, so the risk is more subversive.

A Third Option- Breathable Sealant 

At LIME Painting of Chicago, we use a special breathable coating for all masonry work. Breathable coatings provide a seal from the effects of direct moisture in the form of snow and rain, while allowing air to pass through the brick and mortar. This air includes any moisture that is evaporated in the form of water vapor.

Breathable coatings provide all the benefits of avoiding wear on your brick and mortar from wind driven rain and snow, as well as preventing moisture from settling and freezing in the brick. At the same time, they allow airflow, which provides a method for drying out the brick and preventing the formation of mold.

LIME Painting® of Chicago uses top of the line products to ensure a beautiful, long lasting finish. Our preferred products are Loxon XP and ConFlex 7% Siloxane from Sherwin-Williams and Romabio Classico Limewash.

  • Loxon XP is a single coat, primerless coating that is used to paint your brick and make your home unique while protecting from wind driven rain, alkali, and efflorescence.
  • ConFlex 7% Siloxane is a great option for those who want to protect their new and old masonry by repelling water without altering the look of their masonry.
  • Romabio Classico Limewash is a slaked-lime paint specifically formulated for those who want unique whitewash effects while still providing a breathable, long-lasting finish. It forms a patina over time creating a unique finish and has various tints available.

LIME Painting of Chicago are the experts when it comes to protecting your brickwork and masonry in the Chicagoland area. We provide a free, in home consultation with an in depth walk through of your property to get a feel for the scope of your project. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free estimate and #GetLimed today!