Brick & morter & How to clean off morter???

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by dgold, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. dgold

    dgold Product R&D for a powertool manufacturer

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    Hi there. This forum has been an invaluable resource to me and I'm hoping someone here will know the solution to my problem...

    I recently built a brick mailbox. This was my first ever attempt at brick-laying and overall, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, with one major exception... I'm a lousy brick-mason and I've got mortar stains all over the thing as seen in the "drips" in the picture below, especially noticeable under the pier cap

    [​IMG]

    Any thoughts on how to clean this up? I don't want to use a wire brush or a wire cup wheel because I'm afraid I'll damage the surface finish on the bricks. Does anyone know if muriatic or phosphoric acid would release the very thin layers of mortar that look like "drips" all over the mailbox?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    David
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    I'd start out with plain white vinegar and a stiff brissle brush. See what happens. The longer you wait, the harder it gets.
  3. dgold

    dgold Product R&D for a powertool manufacturer

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    Thanks Jad,
    It's been there for a few weeks now -- so I figure it's probably fully cured. Or is that "yesterday" in the world of masonry?
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    Most curing occurs in the first week, but if you read the specs, they say after 28-days...the longer you wait, the harder it is. It will continue to cure for decades.
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Muriatic acid is normaly used to clean brick but you need to know how to use it...

    don't apply it full strength

    don't apply it to dry brick and morter...

    you need to find someone who knows how to do it...

    BTW other than the cleaning it looks noce...
  6. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    Vinegar is a weak acid and is relatively safe to work with. Given enough time, it will eat the cement out of the mix leaving just the sand. But, it takes awhile. The mechanical brushing helps spread it around and breaks the cement out of the cement/sand matrix, loosening it to allow you to scrub it off.

    A stronger acid will do it quicker. Try the vinegar, if that either takes too long for you, or doesn't do it well enough, you'll have to switch to something stronger. Gloves may be desireable with vinegar, but are required (along with eye protection - dont' wear any clothes you don't want to trash when done) if you use something stronger.
  7. dgold

    dgold Product R&D for a powertool manufacturer

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    I will try treating with undiluted white vinegar first and giving it some time to work.

    Should I hose off afterwords w/ a garden hose, or would a pressure washer be a good idea to help "encourage" the mortar mix off the bricks?

    Thank you all for the help - very much appreciated.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2009
  8. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,055
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on the pressure washer, you could ruin the brick and mortar. It might do the job all on its own, but would take some finnese.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,684
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    mortar

    Muriatic acid is the material of choice by masons. If that cap is concrete/cement rather than mortar, it will take a more agressive treatment to remove it.
  10. dgold

    dgold Product R&D for a powertool manufacturer

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
    The cap is concrete. but all the stains are from the mortar. Definitely not trying to remove the cap - it was a _____ to lift in the first place!
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