Anyone cleaned the exterior of their brick house using chemicals?

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  • Anyone cleaned the exterior of their brick house using chemicals?
  • packer
    Member

    I have a victorian house on a busy road which has about 100 years of road dirt on it. It’s built from traditional yellow bricks (London stock).
    I’ve seen some houses locally have had their bricks professionally cleaned and they look amazing. It’s expensive though (around £600 for the front of a small house) so I am thinking I could do it myself.
    Having read a bit online it seems like you use an acid based chemical which you brush on and then rinse off with water.
    Was wondering if anyone here had done it and what your experiences were?
    I am concerned about choosing the best chemical for the job and also don’t want to damage the bricks which seem pretty fragile.

    Premier Icon sandwicheater
    Subscriber

    Did it ourselves but on the internal chimney. Blooming hard work, though believe that was due to the lack of space. If the bricks can take some metal brush action would say it’s worth it. I’d spend a few minutes scrubbing a few bricks to make sure they are still in good knick. Ours crumbled pretty badly so gave up in the end.

    Premier Icon alfabus
    Subscriber

    if it is road grime, then a pressure washer might do it… worth a go first, before you move on to brick acid.

    try not to spray the mortar joints directly.

    stupot
    Member

    Be careful if you use brick acid.
    I was working on a building site. Got given some brick acid and told to clean a wall. Was wearing paper overalls, but the acid managed to get on my tracky bottoms, these then melted!
    Only noticed when my legs started to itch, took the overalls off and the trousers were just ribbons!

    warton
    Member

    I think that’s one of those jobs where you want to pay the money and let the pros take over.

    scrubbing the front of a house with a wire brush will take a loooooooooooooooooooooooooong time…

    packer
    Member

    Thanks for the replies.
    Don’t want to use a pressure washer or wire brush as I am concerned about damaging the bricks and mortar (house probably needs to be re-pointed really but that’s another story).
    Hence I was thinking of using brick acid or similar and a soft brush and rinsing off with a watering can.
    I suppose I should just give it a go and see if it works.
    Thanks for the safety tip though – will be sure to get suited up!

    bay1472
    Member

    We’ve recently had an extension built and left one of the old exterior walls which is now on the inside exposed. The builder gave us some brick acid which you can dilute down and wash the walls with. Its good stuff but as above you can see the mortar between the joints bubbling when the acid touches it. Took us 2 days just to get the finish we wanted but it does work.

    Look in adecent DIY shop and you can buy it but the decent stuff according to my mate is expensive. Its bloody hard work and for the sake fo £600 I’d pay that as those guys will have all the tools to do a decent job.

    Hope that helps

    Premier Icon tthew
    Subscriber

    Brick acid may be a fairly quick process, and it’s cheap enough to try though it is really used to get off, (alkaline) morter smears after pointing or building so it may not work. Certainly didn’t when I tried to clean old paint off our house recently.

    @ Stupot. That’s criminally poor health and safety management on so many levels, (and I mean literally criminal!)

    globalti
    Member

    That yellow Laaandon brick is pretty soft and clayey, isn’t it? I wouldn’t use acid on it.

    stupot
    Member

    I know, hence they were very keen to buy me new trousers, send me home early, etc basically be really nice. At the time I was only a kid straight out of school so did not think much about it. Now I look back so many unsafe thinks happened on that site it was un-real!

    packer
    Member

    Yes the yellow bricks do seem quite fragile. Perhaps I am better off with a strong detergent rather than anything acid based…?

    stratobiker
    Member

    Use a 10% – 15% mix of household bleach in water.

    Spray it on with a garden sprayer. Leave it for an hour. Wash of with plenty of clean water.

    Try it on a test patch first.
    Becareful for any pets, or water run-off into the clean water source.

    It’s what lots of people use in France to wash their ‘crepi’ before repainting.

    You might have to do it more than once.

    SB

    Premier Icon sandwicheater
    Subscriber

    Are there any sections you could test it on ie in your attic?

    IHN
    Member

    I think that’s one of those jobs where you want to pay the money and let the pros take over.

    What he said.

    packer
    Member

    Yeah I think I will test it on a small area first.
    If it doesn’t go well I will get the pros in (or live with the dirt).
    Thanks for all the replies.

    slowoldgit
    Member

    As people have said, acid would eat old mortar, even more so if it’s lime mortar. Don’t builders use the stuff to remove mortar splashes?

    MrNutt
    Member

    I recall my youth, being up a ladder on an old brick cottage, a crop sprayer on my back filled with acid and wire brush in hand. A god awful chore. Pay some other poor bugger to do it!!

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