Brick repairs: mortar (plastic repairs) v replacement

Written by: Dave Connor

Date:

Where the face of a brick has decayed to the point where it requires repair or where bricks have suffered minor damage or where fixings have been removed leaving holes then a suitable repair will need to be carried out.

Often the faces of damaged bricks are repaired by patching them up (also termed facing up) with a mortar repair (also termed plastic repair). This method is often used on the grounds of economy, however it is rarely, if ever a long term success. In fact if a hard, non-porous cementitious mortar is used (proprietary brick repair mortars should also be viewed with caution as they can be cement based) it can actually not only accelerate the decay and deterioration of the remainder of the brick but the adjacent brickwork too.

Often no attempt is made to match the colour or surface texture of the brick to be repaired which is visually highly disfiguring and even when a well executed repair has been undertaken, that initially looks convincing it will not weather in time the same way as actual bricks and will also stand out in wet weather due to the different absorption rates.

However, it can be a useful technique if carried out with care and skill using a lime mortar colour matched to the brick, to make good very minor areas or cavities to a brick face. It should never be used to repair the whole face of a brick or larger areas and should never be considered as a cheaper alternative to brick replacement.

Although initially more expensive, where a brick is severely decayed or damaged, there is no substitute to cutting out and replacing with a well matched replacement.

In future blogs I’ll discuss brick replacement, brick matching and the sourcing of replacement bricks for repair work.

Poor quality patch mortar repairs.

Poor quality patch mortar repairs (plastic repairs) to full brick faces along with repointing in a hard impervious cement mortar which is not only disfiguring but is causing accelerated decay to the adjacent bricks.

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