What Kinds of Brick Are Waterproof?

Written by simon slayford
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Bricks and other masonry building materials have been trusted for centuries, but the problem with them is that they are porous. This means that bricks and other stonework absorb water and other liquids or substances and will degrade over a period of years. Using waterproof bricks (bricks treated with waterproof coatings) is a solution to degradation by water, and there are several types of waterproof brick available -- each a product of a different kind of waterproof treatment.

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Glazed Bricks

Glazed bricks are essentially ceramic or porcelain bricks that have undergone an enamelling process in order to develop an exterior that is waterproof and corrosion-free. Given that the ceramic finish of glazed bricks is impervious to water, the design of walls or other structures constructed with such bricks should include water drainage features that allow proper flow of collected water within the wall's cross section. Otherwise, trapped moisture inside the bricks can cause cracking and crumbling, a problem known as spalling.

Bricks with Waterproof Coating

Bricks that have waterproof coating are ordinary bricks treated with sealers such as acrylics, epoxies and urethanes. Like glazed bricks, the surface of a brick treated with waterproof coating is impervious to water. This means that moisture entering the bricks through another route cannot evaporate through the coated exterior. Just as with glazed bricks, designs using waterproofed bricks should incorporate accommodating drainage systems to prevent spalling.

Bricks with Water-repellent Coating

Bricks with water-repellent coatings are different from glazed bricks and bricks with waterproof coating in that they can "breathe," meaning that water can still escape through the brick's coated exterior. In this regard, silane- and siloxane-based water-repellent coatings are used. These coatings penetrate deep into the pores of the brick and form a water-repellent resin when the coatings come in contact with the brick's alkaline components. Bricks that have undergone water-repellent treatment do not have the same risk of spalling that is found in glazed bricks and bricks treated with acrylics, epoxies and urethanes.

Bricks Treated with Silicone Rubber

Bricks treated with silicone rubber are long lasting, weatherproof masonry materials. Silicone rubber is also a water repellent, meaning that the bricks can still "breathe" and that, consequently, water can escape from the pores of the bricks. Bricks with silicone rubber treatment also tend to retain elastic properties. Retention of elastic properties enables the brick to automatically bridge minor structural flaws such as hairline cracks thus eliminating the need for repointing and caulking of every major flaw.

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