Fired clay brick is a significant part of Scotland’s built heritage, although it’s not as common a masonry type as stone. Brick characteristics vary greatly, just like stone, making different kinds of brick more suited to particular purposes.
Cleaning traditional brickwork should be done carefully, if at all. Much damage has been caused to brick buildings by cleaning. The safest way to avoid the risk of damage to a brick building from any form of cleaning is simply not to clean in the first place. And ensure that sources of damp or soiling are dealt with.
Brickwork will decay over time if a building isn’t properly maintained. You should inspect a brick building regularly and deal with any signs of decay before bigger problems emerge. You must address the causes of decay as well as the symptoms.
Structural faults may also emerge in brickwork. Cracking is the most common sign of structural movement.
Regular building maintenance can help you to avoid most of the problems that can affect brickwork. Much of the focus is on keeping the building watertight, and ensuring proper ventilation, as excess moisture speeds up decay.
The decision to repair brickwork shouldn’t be made lightly. Only essential repairs should be carried out, as there’s always a danger that poor work will cause more damage than good in the long run.
Replacement bricks should match the originals in type, colour, surface texture and finish, durability, and size. You may be able to source reclaimed or second-hand bricks from salvage yards, or new ones of traditional size and manufacturer. You should make sure they are suitable for external use.