Recognised for their practicality, varying shades and architectural styles, bricks add beauty to home exteriors and interiors. Brick structures and surfaces do not rot, tear or require paint. Nonetheless, mortar can splash or smear onto bricks during their installation, marring their appearance. Mortar consists of cement, which is composed of mixed aggregates and water that quickly bond and stick to bricks. Promptly address unwanted mortar on bricks because cement becomes stiffer and more difficult to remove the longer it cures. Remove cement from exterior bricks using diluted acid.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Safety glasses
- Garden hose
- Cold chisel
- Long, protective clothing
- Acid-resistant gloves
- 1 cup muriatic acid
- Wooden stir stick
- Plastic sheeting
- Fans (optional)
- Stiff-fibre brush
- Paper towels
Put on safety glasses. Flow water over the affected bricks while positioning a cold chisel's tip against the cement and then tapping the chisel's head with a hammer. Detach as much cement as possible.
Sweep the loosened cement fragments off the brick surface. Rinse the bricks with water.
Put on long, protective clothing and acid-resistant gloves in addition to the safety glasses. Add 1 cup muriatic acid to a bucket containing 10 cups of water. Slowly stir the acid and water with a wooden stir stick.
Move any patio furniture and/or objects away from the area. Lay plastic sheeting over vegetation and immovable objects for protection. Circulate fresh air using fans if the area is partially enclosed.
Flush the affected bricks with water. Carefully pour the diluted acid liberally onto the cement-splattered bricks. Wait five minutes for the acid to dissolve the cement.
Scrub the loosened cement off the bricks using a stiff-fibre brush. Detach as much cement as possible.
Rinse the bricks at least twice with water. Flush away all traces of the diluted muriatic acid. Wipe the acid runoff off the bricks with paper towels to prevent contaminating nearby soil, vegetation and animals.
Examine the bricks for cement. If stubborn cement remains, repeat the acid-application process.
Dispose of the diluted muriatic acid in accordance with your community's hazardous-waste regulations.
Tips and warnings
- Substitute a plastic scraper for the chisel and hammer.
- Test the diluted muriatic acid on the bricks to avoid irreparable discolouration or damage.
- Pouring water into acid creates a powerful reaction that causes the acid to splash up.
- Muriatic acid is a severely caustic chemical that emits toxic fumes. Abide by all instructions advised by the manufacturer.
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