Taking Care of Your Masonry Steps

Though brick and mortar steps are built to last, sometimes they need maintenance to ensure their longevity. After all, they have a hard job in a challenging environment. They deal with every change in temperature, all the inclement weather that comes with the changing seasons and we use them every day. Your masonry steps can handle a lot — with a little maintenance and early repair you’ll be able to count on them for years to come. 

What should you do to take care of your masonry steps? There’s a couple easy tasks you can take care of yourself, as well as some minor repair work that you should hand off to a professional. Here’s what you need to know to keep those steps in good working order for years to come.

Keep them clean

It sounds silly, but keeping brick steps clean can absolutely help them last longer. Any kind of mud, debris or chemicals on the brick and mortar can discolor your steps, as well as introduce slightly acidic moisture. This can slowly eat away at the mortar, or even be absorbed into the brick. Avoid this by keeping your steps clean. Sweep them off regularly, and give them a good spray down with the hose on occasion. 

During the winter months, remove snow and ice to the best of your ability. Avoid using rock salt or ice melter if possible — it will speed up the freezing-thawing cycle, leading to faster deterioration of the mortar, and may even cause cracks to form in the brick. If you do opt to use any kind of ice melter, make sure that you thoroughly clean your steps when the temperatures rise in the spring. 

Perform a general inspection

It’s a good idea to inspect your steps periodically, to see if you find any small problems that could use repair. You might think that since you use your steps daily that you will spot any problems right away, but you might be surprised — when we look at the same things every day, we can often overlook small changes for a considerable amount of time. 

Instead of counting on daily observation, set aside a little time every month or two to look more closely at your steps. Are there any cracked or broken bricks? Do the steps still appear level and even? Has any of the mortar crumbled, become loose or fallen out?

If you find any problems, you should consider calling a professional to assess the damage. It’s often easy and inexpensive to fix a problem before it becomes a more significant issue. You can save yourself time, money and hassle by not waiting to have someone take a look.

If you find a small issue and want to deal with it before it becomes a big problem, give Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting a call at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote.

Remove plants

While it may look attractive to have plants such as ivy growing up the side of your masonry steps, these plants can increase moisture intrusion, and may even send small shoots into the mortar, causing it to crack and crumble. 

If you notice ivy starting to grow up your masonry steps and you decide to remove it, cut the vines away from the wall as opposed to pulling them off. This will prevent the shoots from pulling out mortar with them. Allow the shoots to dry up and crumble still attached to the masonry, and then brush them off.

Waterproofing

If you have problems that need repaired, effective waterproofing can help prevent further damage. To protect your steps, professional waterproofing with Siloxane P.D. will prevent water from seeping into your masonry, while still allowing moisture to breathe out. 

Many DIY waterproofing solutions will trap moisture in the brick and mortar, which will actually speed up the deterioration of your masonry. That’s why we recommend professional waterproofing. Proper application will protect your steps for years to come. 

Mortar repair

Since deteriorated or broken mortar increases moisture penetration and can lead to more damage, it’s a good idea to have a professional look at any spots where you discover cracked or missing mortar. Having these joints repaired or repointed will strengthen the exterior face of the masonry, and prevent water intrusion.

Small cracks may only require minimal work while larger, more serious damage may require repointing — where we remove any of the deteriorated or damaged mortar, replacing it with new mortar. Again, catching the problem early can greatly reduce the expense of repair, so don’t overlook the importance of routine inspections.

Replace broken bricks

If you find any broken or severely cracked bricks in your inspection, you should call a professional right away. Broken bricks will allow moisture to spread quickly, rapidly creating additional problems. Further, broken bricks can be dangerous to walk on, as they can crumble, fracture or fall out of place as you step upon them. Don’t risk safety by putting off repair — call for help right away!

Get help from professionals you can trust

At Ray Arnold Masonry & General Contracting, we’ve been in the business for almost 70 years. Whatever problems you may have with your steps, we can solve them. We’ve built, repaired and replaced masonry steps that see use every day of the year, and we want to ensure that yours last just as long. Ready to take care of your masonry steps? Give us a call at 440-834-8252 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free quote.