Can You Power Wash Brick in Toronto?

Can You Power Wash Brick in Toronto?

You should never power wash brick in Toronto for several key reasons. For one, it breaks down the top protective layer of brick, making it more susceptible to damages from the weather. It can also take away entire chunks of brick or masonry, especially if the structure is already weakened or in a state of disrepair.

Pressure washing is a common method used to deep clean the exterior of homes, but it’s not always the best method. It’s not just brick homes that are commonly damaged by pressure washing.

Power washing may provide a clean looking exterior in the short term, but untold damage could be done in the process. These damages will eventually rear their head, leading to unwanted expenses.

Luckily, there are plenty of other ways you can wash the outside of your home and score the same results.

2 Main Reasons to Avoid Power Washing Brick

#1. Water Infiltration

The lowest pressure washing systems rely on 1,500 psi – which isn’t very destructive. Although, most can reach upwards of 3,300 psi, which is very destructive. In fact, it is powerful enough to blast through brick, asphalt, wood and even concrete.

If there are any cracks or weakened points in a wall, expect even more moisture to seep inside. Once excess moisture enters the wall, it’s difficult for it to all evaporate, which means water remains trapped there.

As a result, especially during periods of intense weather fluctuations, freeze-thaw cycles will result in moisture expanding and contracting, placing pressure on brick from the inside-out. This pressure will result in cracking, crumbling and even spalling bricks. In addition, water in the walls can lead to mold growth – and no one wants mold growing in their walls.

Even worse, homes are often power washed in preparation for a new coat of paint. This allows a bunch of moisture to penetrate the wall before thick layers of paint are applied, thus further sealing the water inside and preventing it from evaporating.

#2. Damages Mortar

Brick is incredibly durable, but it is not immune to the damages of pressure washing. This is especially true when talking about an older home; older homes have softer mortar than newer construction, which makes them even more susceptible.

Mortar can be blasted away by a powerful power washer. In fact, we’ve been called out to take a look at homes where the mortar has been nearly completely washed away by pressure washing. Having to fix the mortar throughout your home’s exterior is not worth a clean looking home. Repointing a brick home is going to cost about 10x the cost of having your home power cleaned.

Power Washing is Great For:

Pressure washing is not always a bad thing. Here are some instances where it works great:

  • Stone and pavers (high pressure)
  • Metal patio furniture (high pressure)
  • Concrete (high pressure)
  • Vinyl fences (medium pressure)
  • Railings (low pressure)
  • Decks (low pressure)
  • Asphalt (medium pressure)

How to Properly Clean Brick

The safest way to clean your brick home is using a little elbow grease, along with an ordinary garden hose and an extension pole outfitted with a nylon scrub brush. A professional who specializes in masonry work may be able to power wash your home using the lowest pressure possible. In some cases, this works well to remove stuck on stains without causing damage to brick and mortar. For tough stains, you may also use a detergent that is specially designed to clean brick or exterior siding.

Before you clean brick, it’s important to inspect mortar for any signs of damage, including soft spots that crumble under pressure or have cracks. Before cleaning bricks, patch mortar and allow it to set for at least 7 days.

Need Help Cleaning Brick in Toronto?

Turn to the experts at Turnbull Masonry! We specialize in brick home restorations, renovations, and rebuilds. Contact us today to learn more or to get a quote.