THE ABCS OF BRICK AND STONE CLADDING IN MONTREAL
Masonry cladding has a decorative role, of course, but its main function is to protect the structure of the house. Therefore, brick and stone walls in Montreal need to be strong and watertight.
There are two main cladding materials: clay brick and limestone. Both are assembled in the same way with mortar joints and fastened to the structural wall (usually a wall of 100 mm wood planks). With brick cladding, there can also be a full structural wall. This is less common since the other construction method is simpler, as well as being more efficient in this climate.
EXTERIOR WALL STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS
Weakness in a brick or stone wall, in Montreal, can usually be explained by the quality of its joints. Often, the joint will break down over time or due to water infiltration. The assembly will weaken and show "sagging" or areas where brick has fallen out. Sometimes the fasteners give way. When you see cracks zigzagging along the joints, this indicates that the foundation has fallen or the soil has compacted. In any case, you need to look after this immediately by consulting a construction professional or a competent mason.
ENTRUST THE JOB TO EXPERT MASONS
Walls do not usually need to be dismantled completely. Thanks to the relatively small size of masonry units, it is most often possible to deal only with the part that is the problem. Unfortunately, there are a number of “contractors” who masquerade as masons. These unscrupulous amateurs mostly go after brick wall joints. It is very common to see them empty joints unnecessarily.
Shadow gaps in the joints provide a nice effect when the sun hits them and it is sad to see them gradually disappear. In addition, these “repairs” are often done on the facade only, which also often results in an aesthetic disaster. The quality of the replacement mortar is also very important. Priority should be given to mortar with lime rather than mortar with higher cement content. This is not only more aesthetic, but the joints will also remain more flexible.
As for cleaning, caution is required. In fact, while the result may be spectacular at first glance, unprofessional work will cause significant damage to the masonry by attacking its baked, hardened surface. The surface becomes more porous, making the wall more susceptible to freeze-thaw cycles, thereby accelerating deterioration.
Masonry work should be done by skilled masons. To ascertain the scope of work required, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our expertise will save you money since we will limit our work only to what is needed.
Efflorescence is a recurrent phenomenon in masonry. Despite its unattractive appearance, it has an important advantage: it informs us. Efflorescence is in fact a mineral salt deposit on the surface of materials (brick, mortar, etc.) caused by evaporating water.
This is normal in a new building and will fade over the years. However, it may persist if exfiltration in cavity walls continues or if significant amounts of water seep into the back wall. If the condition persists, you have to call on a certified mason contractor, who will know how to assess the problem.