Brick paving can need to be repaired for numerous reasons. Cracks can appear in the paving as a result of water damage or the actual shifting of the ground the pavers sit on, the mortar joints in between the pavers can erode away with time, or the faces of the brick pavers may become loose and pop off just like a brick wall or brick chimney on your home. These damages occur for a number of reasons, primarily due to poor construction or poor materials used during construction.
Generally, brick pavers are laid over a sand base which in this article will be referred to as a substrate. Water that is able to get through large mortar joints will sit directly underneath the brick and freeze and thaw over time, working the bricks loose and causing cracking to occur. An improperly sized substrate will cause problems as well; a good mason will take exact measurements and work hard to make sure that everything is squared away after the project is finished in order to prevent water from being able to pool in any particular area. Brick paving that is laid improperly in terms of the substrate is not fixable without replacing both the substrate and the pavers in most cases.
Ideally, brick pavers should all be exactly the same size. If they are not exact, your mortar joints are likely very large in some places and very small in others. Large or wide mortar joints are the cause of a lot of damage to brick paving because the mortar joints let more water into the system than the pavers do which ultimately causes cracking or spalling because the water that has entered the system expands and contracts as it freezes and thaws. A bad design is not really fixable without replacing the entire brick paved area. One step you can take to prevent such cracking from happening or prevent existing cracking from worsening would be to apply a water repellent specially formulated for pavers (which lay horizontally as opposed to vertically and therefore take a stronger repellent) in order to bar more water from entering.
All of these factors and more stress the fact of finding a mason who is going to really put time and effort into making sure that the job is done right because more often than not repair of the pavers is going to be outrageously expensive. Unless damage occurs on the edge of the paved area, you are usually looking at replacing a large chunk of the paving as well as the substrate it sits on with each repair. Remember that properly and promptly filling and sealing cracks can help prevent a bad job from getting worse, but diligence in terms of selecting an experienced mason who knows the tools and processes of the trade will save you a headache and hidden expenses later on.
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Cincinnati Chimney Sweep, Clay Lamb owner of American Chimney Sweep. Executive Producer of Ask the Chimney Sweep Podcasts and YouTube channel.
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH