What are the reasons for the defects in brick masonry?

Defective brickwork can have various causes, this could include poor design, workmanship and whilst bricks are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, they can at times succumb to them.

Let’s discuss some common brick defects:


Efflorescence can be spotted relatively easy as drying grey or white patches on the brickwork on the outer face of buildings.

This type of defect is visually unappealing to most owners or passers-by, although in my opinion, it can add some character to a building from a different perspective!

This defect does not cause any structural risk and is usually caused because of the presence of alkali in bricks.

This defect can be minimised by preventing brick to come into contact with excessive moisture. Waterproof coping and using water repellent materials within the mortar as well as damp proof course is all possible solutions.

Cracking in Brickwork

Various different types of cracking can at times appear within the brickwork. One of these cracks includes straight cracks which usually appear along the longer side of the brick.

The usual cause of this type of crack is predominantly rapid drying. Sometimes, there can be random cracks which initiate on the surface of the brick. This can be caused by differential drying or even presence of pebbles in the clay mix.

Brick Spalling

Spalling is a type of failure which is caused by excessive moisture within the brick.

Usually, you can identify this when a portion of a brick is flaking or breaking away. Especially in the UK, brickwork can succumb to spalling due to the freeze/thaw cycle.

For instance during harsh winters, water from rainfall or soil can freeze within the brickwork and when the temperatures drop they will tend to melt. This cycle can saturate the brickwork and cause spalling.

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