Problem with brick/bluestone steps

Arline Zatz
by Arline Zatz

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.

  5 answers
  • Oliva Oliva on Jul 08, 2018

    "" will explain this in detail (or "") but you most likely have new brick with efflorescence. It occurs when brick absorbs salt or water from the air, etc. This is why most contractors cover brick prior to installation. The "salts" will take some time to leach out, and yes, it is unsightly, particularly on darker brick, but if you drive around, you'l notice its occurance on driveway block walls, as well.

    • Arline Zatz Arline Zatz on Jul 08, 2018

      I've lived in this house for 43 years and none of the bricks on the house ever put out that white stuff. What do contractors cover bricks with prior to installation? My neighbor had his steps redone around the same time I did but with a different contractor - and hers are still lovely with no white efforescense. I'm really upset about the appearance of mine. It cheapens the house look since the siding is really pretty and the grass and plantings are beautiful. Thank you for the web site you mentioned. I'll look into it. Arline

  • Lynn Goins Lynn Goins on Jul 08, 2018

    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.

    • Arline Zatz Arline Zatz on Jul 08, 2018

      I used a strong power washing machine and nothing has helped. I even coated the bricks when it first happened but it didn't do any good. I do appreciate your suggestion, however. I'm wondering if I can put tile over the bricks but have to know the glue to use and if it will stick to the bricks.

  • William William on Jul 08, 2018

    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.

  • Arline Zatz Arline Zatz on Jul 09, 2018

    Thank you for your advice. I shall try this within the next few days and appreciate your help. Best, Arline