Problem with brick/bluestone steps
The bricks on my 5 year old steps look terrible. No matter how much I spray them, the white comes through and they look like the contractor used 'old' bricks, not new ones. The bluestone is O.K., but the grout is breaking up. Can I put porcelain tiles over the bricks? Will they hold? What kind of glue can I use? Thank you in advance for your help.
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Nothing is wrong with the bricks. Your builder did not use old bricks or substandard materials. This is efflorescence, a natural occurrence. See if this helps.
Have you tried scrubbing them with CLR? It looks like it could be hard water stains. If that doesn't work, you can always scrub with muriatic acid. Make sure you wear thick gloves, eye protection, and a mask.
Water penetrating the brick and mortar forces the "salts" to surface causing efflorescence. Power washing your introducing water and aggravating the situation.
If you’re in a pinch, using household diluted white vinegar can be used on efflorescence. It’s less harmful than industrial chemicals and you most likely already have vinegar in your kitchen.
With a strong brush, you can remove efflorescence with ease.
Removing efflorescence can be quick and simple. In fact, efflorescing salts are water-soluble, which means efflorescence may disappear on its own due to normal weathering.
To clean efflorescence off brick, it is crucial to complete this task in warm, dry weather. At this point, moisture may bring additional salts to the surface of brick, and the salts can be removed by dry brushing.
Applying an impregnating hydrophobic sealant to a building material surface can prevent the absorption of water. The sealant also will stop water from traveling within a building material.