Structures made of brick are among the strongest and sturdiest buildings, but it wears over time. Sidewalks, walkways, stairs, and patios are beautiful, but when one brick breaks or the mortar starts coming loose, it can turn into an eyesore and a hazard. When you need some brick work done, take some of these factors into consideration to calculate cost.
As with all home repairs, where the damage is located determines to some extent the time and cost of repair.
Brick sidewalks may need repair because of broken, sunken, or sagging bricks. These problems may be caused by heavy tree limbs falling on sidewalks, erosion of the sand beneath the sidewalk, or root growth under the sidewalk. Additionally, improper installation of the sidewalk may exacerbate these problems.Repairs to sidewalks can be a DIY job if the damage is not extensive. For instance, in the case of broken brickwork, it may be possible to remove the broken brick, smooth out the surface beneath it, and insert a new brick with minimal trouble. In this case, the only real cost incurred would be the cost of a new brick, typically somewhere between $0.35 and $0.75 per brick.
In the case of sunken or sagging areas in your sidewalk, the repair may be a little more extensive. In many cases, it is possible to remove the sunken bricks, taking care to avoid breaking them. Then, using a level, build up the surface on which your bricks will rest until the surface is level. Replace your bricks on the newly leveled surface and sprinkle sand liberally over the area. Sweep the sand away, allowing it to fill the spaces between your bricks to help hold them in place.
If, on the other hand, your sidewalk is warped because of root growth of nearby bushes or trees, the best course of action is to re-route your sidewalk to avoid the root system or build up your walkway to accommodate the growth of the tree. Alternately, you might consider removing the tree and keeping your sidewalk in the same place after some repairs. This may involve hiring a landscaper or tree service to remove the root system of your tree.Because this is a much more labor-intensive bit of work, you might want to hire a professional to handle the job. A pro can advise you about the best way to handle the situation with the least amount of disruption to your landscaping. For a small sidewalk, a mason may charge anywhere from $300 to $600 for the time it takes to repair the sidewalk. For larger jobs, the average rate is $750 to $1,000per day.
Patios and Stairs
For the most part, the problems which may affect your sidewalks are the same problems patios may have. However, for patios with mortar between the bricks, additional problems can develop when the mortar begins to crumble over the course of time.
In this case, replacing the mortar is required. First, you must clean out the crumbling mortar from the joints. Then, matching mortar colors as closely as possible, you can apply new mortar to the damaged area. Repoint the mortar with a joint tool. After allowing some time for the mortar to set, knock away excess mortar and clean the area carefully.
Stairs, on the other hand, are more difficult as a DIY project. Because stairs are high traffic areas, it is very important for brickwork to be level to prevent tripping hazards. When a broken brick on stairs must be replaced, call in a professional if you cannot get the new brick level on your stair.
Because of where chimneys are located, many homeowners feel uneasy about doing brick repair while standing on a roof. If that is true in your case, it is best to hire a professional to get the job done. Nationally, the cost of chimney repairs ranges from $750 to $1,000.
If you feel comfortable working on your roof, you may choose to repair your chimney as a DIY project. Here are some steps to follow to get the job done:
Inspect the chimney carefully to ascertain which bricks are in need of replacement.
Carefully chisel out the mortar, removing debris with a wire brush as you go.
Pull each brick as it loosens and set it aside carefully. Do not remove all damaged bricks at once, as this can destabilize the chimney and make it unsafe. Instead, replace bricks in stages, allowing time for each course to set before continuing your project.
When replacing, trowel a layer of mortar onto the top and ends of each brick. Slip it into place and remove any excess mortar. Shape the wet mortar with your trowel to look like the other mortar joints on the chimney.
Continue in the same manner until all damaged bricks have been replaced. Allow mortar to dry for about an hour. Then, wipe any excess mortar off your brickwork with a damp sponge.
If your bricks are in good shape, but your mortar is crumbling, mortar can be repaired using the following steps:
Remove crumbling mortar with a hammer and chisel. Clean out joints with a wire brush to completely remove debris.
Mix your mortar and pour it into a mortar bag or, alternately, an old pastry bag. Place the nozzle of the bag into the cleaned out joints, and squeeze the mortar out like pastry or toothpaste until the joint is filled.
Scrape off any excess mortar, and shape the mortar to look like the joints around it. Allow the mortar to dry for an hour, and wipe any excess mortar away with a damp cloth.
Facades and Foundations
When cracks occur in your brick walls or your foundation, it is important to check for any underlying structural damage which would account for the cracks. Foundation cracks, in particular, are troubling, as they could spell potentially serious problems.Foundation repair work is quite costly, but failing to repair foundation damage can be catastrophic. Minor foundation cracks may cost as little as $500, whereas major foundation repairs can be $10,000 or more. The sooner you have cracks repaired, the less expensive the repair will likely be.
Cracks in exterior brick walls can be repaired for $450 to $600 for a one-story home with small cracks. Two-story homes are a little more expensive to repair, at about $650 to $800. The general rule of thumb is that the higher off the ground the work is done, the more costly it will be. Expect to pay at least 10 to 20 percent extra for repairs done above 10 feet.
For a solid day of work around your home, a brick mason will charge, on average, $900 to $1,200.
Exposure to harsh weather conditions and the constant erosive qualities of water may cause damage to brickwork. Additionally, allowing it to become overly soiled can cause damage over time. Proper maintenance with regular pressure washing can extend its life considerably.
Brickwork can also be damaged by improper foundation work or installation processes. For instance, failure to provide a good foundation mix under a sidewalk or patio can lead to eventual sinking or sagging of the bricks, creating a fall hazard.
Failure to lay a weed prevention barrier may cause grass and weeds to grow between bricks, causing the surface to buckle.
For chimneys, allowing the chimney cap to deteriorate leads to problems with the brickwork beneath the cap. Regular inspection and repair of your chimney cap can make your chimney last longer before brick replacement is needed.
In a perfect world, when it was time to replace a brick or an entire section of brickwork, it would be an easy matter of just popping out the damaged part and replacing it with an identical new piece. However, in the real world, this is not always possible. Matching new bricks to existing ones is difficult at best, and impossible at worst.Subtle changes in pigmentation between bricks mean that no new piece will be a perfect match. Additionally, it is important to remember that a new brick has not been exposed to the weather over the course of years, as has the brickwork on your home now. So, an identical match is not possible.
However, a skilled brick mason can often find a close match that will suffice. For a small area of 12 to 24 bricks, replacement by a professional can cost $250 to $350 for labor, in addition to the cost of the bricks themselves. However, if the area is larger than that, the cost of replacement will be larger as well.Brick prices vary based on the type and the quantity needed. On average, bricks cost $350 to $500 per 1,000 sq ft.
Mortar is the thick mixture of sand, water, and cement used to hold bricks in place. Over time, exposure to the elements can cause the mortar to deteriorate. For spot repairs to your mortar, it is easy to patch small places with a bit of new mortar and a mortar bag to aim it into the cracks.However, for extensive mortar repairs, you may want to contact a brick mason. Crumbling mortar, if left unattended, can cause structural damage if it is not confined to one spot in your brickwork. And since proper mortar repair is done by first removing the crumbly mortar, an amateur can easily remove too much mortar, further destabilizing the brickwork.
A professional, however, understands how much mortar to remove at one time, and how to gradually remove and replace the mortar without destabilizing the structure entirely. Also, professional brick masons are quite good at matching the color and appearance of new mortar to the surrounding joints. This attention to detail distinguishes a professionally done job, and ensures that your home continues to look its best once the repairs are completed.Removing and repairing mortar can be a painstaking process, as it involves chiseling the old mortar out, clearing the area of debris, and replacing the mortar seamlessly into your brickwork design.
For the average homeowner, some brickwork repair jobs may be more doable than others. For instance, repairing brick walkways and patios that are not mortared may be time-consuming, but it is a fairly easy process if you have the time to do it yourself.
Repairing small areas where mortar has crumbled from walls is also possible as a DIY project, especially if you are handy with a hammer, chisel, and mortar bag.Stairs, on the other hand, may be a challenge for the average homeowner with little masonry experience. Additionally, repairs on chimneys, while minor, are often a challenge to homeowners who may be uncomfortable working on the roof.
For extensive brickwork repair or repair in hard-to-access places, it may be best to hire a professional to do the job. This ensures that the repair work will be structurally sound as well as attractive to the eye.Professional brick masons put effort into matching repair materials as closely as possible with existing brickwork and, where possible, reclaim existing materials for re-use.
Well done brickwork is an investment that lasts for a long time, and provides a great return on investment if you should ever sell your home. Since that is the case, it is important to get the job done right the first time. When hiring a brick mason, be sure to find a fully licensed, insured, and bonded pro to do the job. This protects your property and ensures your safety.