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Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!

 
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Old 05-10-2019, 06:41 PM   #1
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Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Hello from Brooklyn.
Current project is a gut renovation of an 1850s ballon frame row house. At the cellar level the party walls are brick and the front and rear walls are stone. In certain areas the brick has been painted. The brick is soft and turns to dust if you scrape it. In certain areas the joints are completely dust. Would appreciate some opinions on how to properly treat these 150yr old walls. Ultimately the owner wants to stucco over the walls (no Sheetrock). I am not sure i can get a wire lathe in to these bricks. I was thinking to repoint the open joints with a soft brick mortar (type N ) and then parging the entire walls with type N mortar as a base coat, then adding an acrylic top coat so that the wall can flex. I have read cautionary tales about using Portland on old brick walls. Ive included pictures that illustrate the existing conditions. I would really appreciate some feedback as to best practices.... Ultimately the owner wants to restore and strengthen the wall and have a smooth matte finish as the cellar will be finished and used an an accessory living space. Thank you. Jaime.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:42 PM   #2
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


As you say,the brick are soft,hence,I would probably not go with a type N which is a 1 : 1 : 6 mix. I think I'd go with a 1: 2 : 7.5 or 8 mix.

As far as wire lath goes,try some tapcons with fender washers. With the paint on the walls I'd be Leary to parge directly over the bare brick. If dampness down there is a potential problem,go with a synthetic plastic rather than actual wire mesh.

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Old 05-10-2019, 08:51 PM   #3
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Thanks FJN

Could you tell me what materials your ratios represent? So you would point the missing Joints with this mix and parge the whole wall with it? There is practically no dampness. By synthetic do you mean an acrylic top coat?
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:50 AM   #4
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


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Thanks FJN

Could you tell me what materials your ratios represent? So you would point the missing Joints with this mix and parge the whole wall with it? There is practically no dampness. By synthetic do you mean an acrylic top coat?


In all mortars in the States the binders are always the first number. Also,if portland cement is one of the binders (lime also is a binder) the portland binder is always first. Hence,the ratio I gave you is 1 part portland, 2 parts hydrated mason lime and between 7.5 -8 parts mason sand. Please note in most applications,the sand is usually 3 times the volume of the sum of binders. With that said,you could go with 9 parts sand,however,the 7.5 or 8 will give you a slightly stronger and more "sticky" mix which is easier to work. Remember to clean all loose defective mortar prior to pointing and dampen the area so the substrate will not suck water from your mix to rapidly. By synthetic,I was thinking in terms of the mesh not the mix. If you say moisture is not problematic,the wire stucco mesh should be fine. I prefer the 3.4 lb. mesh over the 2.5 lb. but either should be fine for you.
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Old 05-12-2019, 04:30 PM   #5
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Thanks pal. Should I use the same mix to point new joints in the bricks as well as coating over the entire wall using mesh?

Have any experience in getting paint off the brick? How to best go about that?
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Old 05-12-2019, 04:36 PM   #6
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Yes,you can use the same mix for pointing and for the top coating,depends how smooth you want the finish to be. As far as paint removal,if you apply the mesh,you can leave the paint on. Paint removal is always a touch and go process. The paint remover that works on one coating will not necessarily work for another.

I have had pretty good luck with the removers made by a company called Prosoco.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:51 PM   #7
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


1850 means lime mortar. Be very careful you don't destroy the foundation walls. whatever you use it needs to be able to breathe and not hold moisture, and it doesn't take much to do damage. I would recommend lime mortar and a lime plaster to finish.

Types S lime, hydrated into lime putty and coarse sand (torpedo or concrete, rather than masonry sand) at a 1-3 ratio for the mortar. for the stucco, the same but with masonry sand and maybe a small amount of Portland, say, 1 lime-1/10 Portland-3 masonry sand.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:40 AM   #8
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


These are "back up brick" and are so underfired they can't take ANY frost action.

Next time secure the wall THEN under mine it.... see bottom of 2cd Photo.

the blown off paint and damaged mortar can most likely be explained by movement of water moisture through the wall, a long term solution would to excavate the wall, water proof and install a drain system...

Adding any type of less pervious materials will slow the flow of the water vapour, most likely causing unintended issues. Any treatment that Doesn't include installing Vapour barriers under and behind the walls will fail.

The masonry Trash from the wall on the floor can give a fair guess on the annual loss of material, if you have knowledge of the time the floor was swept clean....

Don't forget that the paint dust most likely has lead in it, when cleaning up or working around any walls that are suffering paint flaking from this era.

You might consider using a bonding agent to improve the trowel action of the type O or N mortar for plastering, I'd use stainless expanded lathe and fasteners for a few extra decades of service in surface bond coat, after a very, very low pressure washing. (I'd wash alternate zones < 50% for safety) But anything would improve the strength of the ca-ca you have now.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:14 PM   #9
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Bonding agent will reduce the permeability, and you do not want to use a cementious mortar anyway, it will, literally, destroy the wall.
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:27 AM   #10
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fouthgeneration View Post
These are "back up brick" and are so underfired they can't take ANY frost action.

a long term solution would to excavate the wall, water proof and install a drain system...

.

Exactly !

"
The base of the wall shows it suffered from moisture intrusion,to "camouflage" the wall with plaster whether it be cement,lime or a combo of both is just "masking" the real issue. Depending on the budget,the fix with the longest life cycle is like Fourthgen stated.

Correct details result in improved performance over " treatments" which try to band-aid the frailties of a weak battle plan.
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Old 05-17-2019, 03:45 PM   #11
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Re: Historic Home Masonry Help Needed!


AND, insulate the OUTSIDE of the masonry so the structural brick never freeze-thaw again.....

Applying water "proofing" materials on a porous masonry wall in contact with damp to flooded soil is like building levees on the Mississippi River, you just make the flood deeper upstream and longer down.....


Water vapour can travel vertically over 400'( see trees in Western USA) and miles horizontally......

What YOU have now is a semi-dry brick lined Well...


It isn't the higher moisture % that destroys the old soft brick (just the ones with some clay left to swell up and blow the fired part apart..) It is the freeze expansion that brings an early return to dust.

Cheap Energy = hard baked brick for the mass market....

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Last edited by Fouthgeneration; 05-17-2019 at 03:58 PM.
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