1 When caring for a brick exterior keep it clean. Mould can permanently change the surface colour of brick over time. Use a stiff (not wire) brush. Apply TSP (trisodium phosphate) according to the directions on the box.
2 If efflorescence (white salt residue) is present, scrub it with a brush. Do not use liquid cleaners or water because they will dissolve and soak into the brick.
3 When the brick is clean, apply a sealer or paint the bricks using waterproof paint. Be sure the brick is dry before applying either paint or sealer.
4 To remedy paint stains on brick, spray the brick with a hose. Mix a solution of two pounds TSP or a strong detergent, apply, allow it to soak in and then scrub with a stiff nylon-bristle brush (don’t use a wire brush). For resistant spots, repeat several times. If scrubbing with this solution doesn’t work, try applying a water-base paint stripper (test on an inconspicuous area first).
5 To replace a damaged brick begin by putting on eye protection and heavy-duty gloves. Use a cold chisel and heavy hammer to break apart the damaged brick.
Tip: If you are removing several bricks, then start at the top and work down. As an alternative, use a power drill and masonry-cutting wheel to score the old bricks before cutting them out with a chisel. Be very careful not to damage surrounding bricks. Once the brick pieces are removed, chisel out any old mortar, and clean the joints of any loose mortar with a brush and vacuum. Rinse the cleaned area. 6 Stucco is a great material. If you have it installed correctly, it will very likely outlast you. The key is to choose the material that suits your tastes. Make sure you install it so that water (which will invariably get behind the stucco) can get out before it damages the wood framing of your home.
7 To give stucco a fresh look, clean it with a garden hose and sprayer filled with a very dilute solution of TSP. Be sure to thoroughly rinse off the mixture.
8 Fix very small cracks in stucco by filling them with a high-quality caulk, preferably one that can be painted over. Use your fingers to press it and a damp cloth to clean up excess.
9 Deal with wider movement cracks by calling for professional repair that may include raking the cracks and filling them with a urethane sealant system or other treatment. Movement cracks and other serious problems, such as loose framing, cannot be cured by patches and paint.
10 If aluminum siding is dented, use a flat finish to help hide the damage.
11 If you have vinyl siding, don’t choose a dark paint colour. Dark colours absorb more heat from the sun and can cause vinyl siding panels to buckle.
12 Relatively new exterior finishes include brick and stone veneer. This includes thin bricks or stones or cultured synthetic masonry materials (1/2 inch to 4 inches thick). These products are very durable, fireproof and solid. Hose off annually. The disadvantage is installation is costly.
13 Be careful when choosing siding. Many inexpensive brands do not offer enough pure vinyl to prevent cracking or lack the key elements needed to prevent fading. A high-quality vinyl siding offers a superior underlay system and resists peeling, cracking, waving, fading and high winds. When quality siding starts looking dull, just clean it with a little soap and water to restore it to like-new condition.
14 Protect wood siding with paint, stain or two coats of water-repellent preservatives. Reapply every three years.
Tip: When water stops beading and rolling off the wall, it is time for a fresh coat.
Tip: Use rust-resistant screws on warped boards to hold them against the house.
Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and the soon-to-be-released book Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives available online and in stores across Canada. She graduated as a home economist from the University of Manitoba and speaks professionally on the subject of fixing life’s messes by using products behind everyone’s cupboard doors. As well as being a columnist, Reena can be heard on radio and TV programs across Canada and the U. S.