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Bulging Brick: What is it & What to do

New bricks

Bulging brick is a common masonry issue caused by water seeping through the mortar joints of a brick or stone wall. The water then swells and puts pressure on the walls. Bulging brick can also occur when the anchors holding a wall together rust, causing the wall the loosen.

This issue is typically noticed once the winter months are over. As soon as you see it, schedule repairs through a qualified mason – they’ll ensure that your wall doesn’t detach from the structure and collapse.

Why is my brick bulging?

Bulging brick, or bowed brick, needs to be dealt with quickly. It can cause your wall to fall apart, letting in water and ice and causing further damage. Any humidity build-up at the back of the wall will cause it to weaken at a faster pace and increase the chance of collapse.

Here are some reasons your building might have bulging brick:

  • Excess humidity in the wall cavities – it causes ice to form during the winter
  • Deteriorating mortar joints that let too much water seep in
  • Excess rust on anchors, causing the wall to become loose
  • Cracks in the wall

mason contractor

How much does it cost to repair deteriorating brick?

The cost of masonry work depends on the location on the wall, the extent of the damage, its accessibility, and many other factors. Here’s a list of price ranges for different types of masonry work.

Brick wall repair service Average cost
Labour & materials
Bulging brick $30 to $48/sq.ft.
Repointing $14 to $22/sq.ft.
New brick installation $30 to $48/sq.ft.

Repairing bulging brick isn’t always possible, but, when it is, it can cost a few thousand dollars. However, if the rest of the wall has also been weakened over time, as is often the case, completely restoring the wall might be necessary. This job is neither simple nor inexpensive. For instance, it can cost anywhere between $24,000 and $48,000 for a standard duplex or triplex wall.

You don’t want your brick wall to collapse

Bulging brick can be extremely dangerous. If you notice a bulge in your masonry wall, you should quickly put a safety perimeter in place and get in touch with a professional. At times, it’ll be enough to simply solidify the existing structure, but often it’ll be necessary to remove the bricks or stones and rebuild part of the wall.

bulging brick

How to spot bulging brick

If you notice that there’s unusual swelling on your brick or stone wall, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with bulging brick. Sometimes it manifests as windows not looking level anymore. In either case, it’s important to have a professional check the overall appearance of your façade and to help prevent the problem from getting worse. Brick issues often occur during temperature fluctuations, so it’s important to monitor your walls during freeze–thaw periods.

bulging brick

How to prevent bulging brick

A brick or stone wall should be able to breathe, but it shouldn’t let water in without allowing it to evaporate in dry weather. If you’re noticing a lot of cracks or gaps in your mortar, consider having it repointed to prevent water accumulation and ice formation in winter.

Painting your stone or brick wall to waterproof it

This is a terrible idea! While painting your wall can prevent water from getting in, it’ll also prevent moisture from getting out. Sooner or later, your mortar joints will completely deteriorate, and the anchors will break due to corrosion. Not only can it cause further damage to the building’s structure, but it can also force you to rebuild your entire wall prematurely.

new brick wall

How to solve bowed brick issues

In some cases, depending on the size of the swelling, redoing the façade won’t be necessary. Rather, injecting grout behind the wall would be sufficient. The grout increases the wall’s strength, filling the voids caused by mortar decomposition, and therefore preventing any bulging. There are also special screws that can be installed to support the wall and, in some cases, metal plates can be put in to enhance support. However, these are only temporary solutions.

If the size of the swelling isn’t too bad, you won’t have to redo the entire façade. Instead, your mason will inject grout behind the wall to increase its strength and fill the gaps caused by mortar decomposition. There are also temporary fixes available, like special screws and/or metal plates that can be installed to support the wall.

If the wall is too far gone, you’ll need to replace it to prevent it from happening again. Unfortunately, bulging brick weakens the structural integrity of the wall, so a quick fix won’t really work here. In fact, it may just delay the worse case scenario: a collapse.

Be sure to get a professional’s opinion on what route makes the most sense for you. After all, if you can avoid replacing your entire wall, it’ll save you a substantial sum!

masons

Don’t wait until next year

Given our extreme temperature fluctuations, it’s not a good idea to delay getting bowed brick fixed. The trapped water will just end up freezing and thawing repeatedly, causing more damage to your wall. To keep repair costs to a minimum, reach out to a masonry expert as soon as possible.

How long does it take to repair a bulging wall?

Depending on the height and extent of the bulge, it can take several days for such a repair. Installing scaffolding, removing problematic bricks or stones, cleaning them or replacing them, putting back anchors, and reinstalling the pieces are all necessary tasks for the entire process.

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Reinforcing your walls

Masonry work can be a big investment, but it’s worth it to protect your home and the structural integrity of the building. It can be tough to determine if your wall needs work, but thankfully there are some signs to look out for. And, if you know you need a complete overhaul, you might want to take the opportunity to switch up your home’s façade – it’ll add style, protection, and curbside appeal! You can also browse our completed projects to get a feel for what your home exterior could look like.

If you’re ready to get your project started, reach out to one of our Renovation Advisors. They’ll help you navigate your project and find you up to 3 Verified Contractors at no cost and no obligation. Because you deserve a fair price.