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Jonathan Lecault

by Jonathan Lecault Renovation Advisor| Reno-Assistance

Reno Blog / Masonry / Bulging Brick: What is it & What to do
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Bulging Brick: What is it & What to do

Masonry

Bulging brick is a common masonry issue caused by water seeping through the mortar joints of a brick or stone wall. It happens when the infiltrated water swells – it’s essentially the same way potholes are formed on the road. It can also happen when the anchors holding the wall together rust and cause the wall the loosen.

This issue is typically noticed once the winter months are over. Repairs with a qualified mason should be planned out as soon as the bulging wall appears. They will ensure that your wall doesn’t detach from the structure and collapse.

Why is the brick bulging?

Ideally, this bowed brick issue would be dealt with quickly. Why? Just imagine parts of your wall breaking apart and then having water, snow, or ice accumulate behind the wall. Any humidity build up at the back of the wall will cause it to weaken at a faster pace and increase the risk that it collapses. 

Here are some reasons your building might have bulging brick:

  • Excess humidity in the wall cavities causing ice to form during the winter;
  • Deteriorating mortar joints allowing too much water to seep in;
  • Excess rust on anchors causing the wall to become loose;
  • Cracks in the wall.

mason contractor

How much does it cost to have deteriorating brick repaired?

The cost of repairing deteriorating brick may vary depending on the location on the wall, the extent of the damage, its accessibility and many other factors. That’s why our Renovation Advisors will gladly put up to 3 of the best masons in competition against one another to work on your bowed brick wall.

To give you an idea of what their work might cost you, here’s a little overview:

Brick wall repair Average cost
Labor & Materials
Bulging brick $23 to $25/ sq.ft.
Repointing $8 to $12/ sq.ft.
New brick installation $25 to $35/ 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 no simple feat, nor an inexpensive one. For instance, it can cost anywhere between $20,000 and $40,000 for a standard duplex or triplex wall.

Masonry costs will vary depending on what you get done. 

You won’t want to see your brick wall collapse

It must be said, bulging bricks 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 to rebuild part of the wall.

bulging brick

How to spot bulging brick

If you notice unusual swelling on your brick or stone wall, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with bulging brick. Also, if you feel as though your windows are no longer levelled with your brick and seem higher, it would be important to check the overall appearance of your facade. We advise you to call a professional mason as soon as these signs arise to prevent the problem from getting worse. Brick issues occur especially during temperature fluctuations, so it’s important to monitor your walls during freeze-thaw periods to avoid bricks or stones from falling.

deteriorating brick

Painting your stone or brick wall to waterproof it 

This is a terrible idea! Although painting your wall may be a way to prevent water from getting in, it will also prevent moisture from the inside to make it’s way out – essentially wiping out all your efforts trying to prevent humidity from entering the wall’s cavity. Sooner or later, your mortar joints will completely deteriorate, the anchors will break due to corrosion and you would have to rebuild your entire wall prematurely, besides potentially causing further damage to the building’s structure because of the excess moisture. 

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How to prevent a masonry wall from bulging

Pay attention to cracks in mortar joints or crumbling joints. A brick or stone wall should breathe, but it should not allow water to make its way through it. If it does, water able to evaporate in dry weather. Have the cracks or crevices repaired quickly so that water doesn’t get a chance to seep in and cause clumps of ice in the wall? For more information on how to repair damaged joints, read our article on brick or stone repointing.

new brick wall

How to solve bowed brick issues

In some cases, depending on the size of the swelling, redoing the facade 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.

In other cases, when the issue is more prominent, it would be imperative to reinstall the brick or stone. Our Advisors will recommend that you redo the entire wall to prevent this issue from persisting and occurring once again. In fact, bulging brick weakens the entirety of your wall structure, so targeting your renovation to only the few problem bricks may not be effective. Your swelling and collapsing issues may persist in the future if you do so. Getting the entire wall facade redone avoids having to deal with this snowball effect. 

Of course, you won’t want to get your entire wall redone if it isn’t necessary. That’s why we advise you to call upon real experts that can advise you accordingly. In any case, bulging brick is of great importance and should not be taken lightly! If you don’t react quickly, the issue will only get worse. 

masons

Waiting until next year is not the best idea

Considering our extreme temperature fluctuations, water in our walls going through a freeze-thaw cycle will only worsen the wall’s condition if you wait until next year to get it fixed. To reduce your repair costs to a minimum, we strongly advise you to act as quickly 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. 

Finding the best masons to repair bulging brick

If you’re looking for qualified masons to provide you with quotes to repair your brick or stone wall, we can refer you to up to 3 of the best masons in your area and have them compete against one another to win your business. Having our 360° Verified Contractors compete against one another ensures that you end up with a fair price. 

Here are the cities in which masonry contractors are in high demand:

masonry renovation

Renovation Advisors to the rescue! 

No matter your masonry problem, our Renovation Advisors are here to help! Call us or fill out our form to get in touch with the best masons in town. Our service is at no cost, no obligation to you. 

Happy renovations start here!

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