Brick and stone are the oldest and most durable building materials, but they also absorb water like sponges, which makes them vulnerable to cracking and crumbling. Sealing brick and stone is the best way to protect it from the wear and tear of water damage.
Brick is hard and dense, but quite porous and easily penetrated by water. For certain types of brick, it takes 20 seconds for the water to seep through to the back side, while other types pass water immediately. When it rains, or the garden hose hits it, a brick wall simply soaks up the water. That moisture transfers to everything surrounding the brick, including the tuckpointing mortar and the understructure of your home.
A by-product of brick’s absorption is efflorescence (shown above), the white film that appears on bricks with water management problems. Efflorescence happens when water that has seeped into the brick reappears upon evaporation as salt on the surface, which usually looks like a powdery, white deposit. Left uncorrected, this process will eventually break down the brick’s structural integrity. Sealing brick almost always solves the efflorescence problem.
A brick is only as good as the mortar around it, so tuckpointing needs protection, too. The bonus is that brick and tuckpointing is sealed at the same time, creating a continuous, protective shield that keeps water out. When you consider the expense of tuckpointing, removing that maintenance from your future is a cost-effective benefit.
From flagstone sidewalks, to fieldstone patios to stone foundation walls on older homes, natural stone is a classic and desirable material, but it is just as porous as brick. You need to seal stone and mortar to protect this sizeable investment.
When exterior stone wicks up more water than it can handle, the physical expansion of the stone is what causes it to crack. The frequent freeze/thaw cycles in Metro St. Louis are what cause our pothole problems on the streets; this same process also affects our stone wall and walks. Once those cracks happen, water will continually wear down the stone from the inside, leading to an eventual crumble.
The photo above is from a Mosby Building Arts water management project on a St. Louis County deck, and it shows the damage to the wood structure behind the cracked stone column pictured above of this photo. This is what happens when water gets the chance to penetrate a stone surface. Sealed stone has a protective barrier that repels and reduces this kind of harmful water absorption. This seal also has the added benefit of resisting mildew, algae and moss, which reduces clean up of these common stains.
Seal It Right the First Time
When installing new brick or stone, include sealing as part of the work scope. For existing stone and brick, have it sealed now to maintain and prolong the life of what is already in place.
Mosby Building Arts has a high-performance brick, masonry and stone sealing system that provides internal protection against water. Our ProTreat Sealer team has over 20 years of experience and diagnoses which sealer works best for your materials, and how to properly clean and prep the surface before applying that sealer. We also offer you the option of a sealer that will not alter surface colors, or go with a sealer that enhances and brightens the colors of natural stone.
Because you’ve made a sizable investment in brick, stone and mortar, you should protect it by sealing it right the first time. Learn more about Mosby Building Arts brick & stone sealing services here. For deep protection from a deep bench of sealing professionals, call the Mosby office at 314.909.1800 or contact them here.
Did you learn something from this article? Sign up for the monthly Mosby Building Arts e-newsletter or Like us on Facebook to get free remodeling tips delivered straight to you!