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Masonry Finishes for Brick and Concrete | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House mason Mark McCullough teaches us everything we need to know about sealing, protecting, and beautifying masonry surfaces.

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Mason Mark McCullough discusses masonry finishes. After Mark explains when and the reasons why such a durable material needs sealing, he walks Kevin O’Connor through the process. He states it’s crucial to repair the masonry first, then he wets the walls and applies a detergent. Finally, he applies the sealer.

Concrete needs protection too
Concrete is a tough, durable material, but it also needs protection. After 30 or 40 years of exposure to the elements, it can wear down, become brittle, or absorb moisture. This includes brick, block, concrete, stucco, and similar materials. Protecting those surfaces with a product designed to seal the masonry is best.

The process is key
There is a process to sealing a masonry surface:
• It’s important to make any repairs necessary, including repairing or replacing blocks or bricks and mortar joints.
• Wet the wall and scrub it with a detergent.
• Apply the stain or sealer with a sprayer or brush.

Don’t seal patios or walkways
Sealing horizontal surfaces isn’t the best idea, especially if folks will walk on them. When water can’t penetrate the masonry surface, it sits on top and makes the surface slippery. In colder climates, the water will freeze and create a serious safety hazard.

Don’t use paint to change the look
Paint isn’t always the best option. Paint creates a barrier on the surface of the masonry surface, preventing any trapped moisture from escaping. This can cause the paint to chip, moisture to freeze and expand in the winter, and other situations that don’t bode well for masonry surfaces.

Use a stain or sealer
Instead of paint, use a stain or sealer to protect or change the look of the surface. These products will penetrate the brick and protect it while still allowing the surface to breathe. For folks who enjoy the look of their masonry surface, clear sealer will do the trick. For folks who want a fresh look, go with a stain. Paint dealers can match any color sample so finding a stain to match should be a breeze.

Where to find it?
Mark and Kevin discuss masonry finishes for brick, stucco, stone, concrete, and cinder block. Mark doesn’t recommend painting masonry. He explains that paint creates a barrier that doesn’t allow the masonry work to breathe, resulting in a build-up of damage causing moisture. Instead of paint, Mark recommends using masonry stains which are available in a variety of colors.

Masonry stains [] can be sourced online and in your local home center.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Masonry Finishes for Brick and Concrete | Ask This Old House


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