Removing cement based render from brickwork:
One of our most frequently asked questions!
The answers depend upon many factors,such as the condition and type of brick, the reasons for the render in the first place, the type of render and how it was
applied ,etc ,etc.
Buildings are rendered for a reason- to hide ugly and failed brickwork, to keep out dampness,to ‘brighten up’ an area -cement based renders are and have been used as a ‘cheap’ solution to the problem-they turn out to be far more expensive in the long run due to the damage they cause.
In most cases we can do something about it,arriving at a cost effective solution that allows the wall to breathe again,thus helping considerably to reduce dampness and condensation issues.
Just as big a plus is the aesthetic consideration- the bricks,once restored will enhance the appearance of the building and in so doing add value too!
It takes experience and forethought to remove render effectively-just going at it with a hammer and chisel might get the render off, but in so doing a great number of the probably soft bricks, would also be damaged beyond restoration.
The key is to be able to remove the render with as little impact to the wall as possible-approach at a shallow angle to the wall and not too hard!This will lift the render away in sheets with luck and leave you with bricks hopefully whole, but if not ,then not completely shattered.
Keep a close eye out for those special features that may have been covered up -arches,doors etc are very common and once exposed they can be restored as part of the story of the building.
You may well come across timbers that were rendered over-they would have been set into the wall as lintels,plates etc and due to the cement render may well have rotted causing structural weaknesses that really must be addressed
So, the render is all off and you are faced with a patchy brick wall with holes here and there ,damaged bricks and hopefully a feature or two that you did not know existed-what now?
This is where our experience comes into play as we can advise you on the viability of restoration in terms of your budget and the condition of the bricks/stone etc.
restoration is not a cheap solution- that is probably why the wall was rendered in the first place, but look at the damage a cheap solution caused!!
There is no wall that cannot be restored, given it is structurally sound that is.
The issues are budget and function- these walls were meant to breathe- the guys that built them knew what they were up to and stopping the breathability by rendering over got you where you are!
Often there are three options :
1. full restoration of the brickwork,including a re point,replacement of damaged bricks with MATCHING ones of the period,restoration of features etc.
2. preparing the bricks and mortar for a lime washed finish.
The lime wash finish allows the wall to breathe, but the restoration process can be quicker as we are aiming to show the pattern of the bricks and mortar through the limewash,rather than the full colour of the brick.
Lime wash comes in a range of usually pastel shades and is relatively easy to apply, once you understand the way it works!
It can be cheaper than full restoration and can certainly brighten up a wall, but still allow it to function as it ought. Lime wash is reversible too,so restoration is possible at a later stage.
Lime render is a breathable solution,replacing the cement render with lime presents the same or very similar final finish,providing it is left as a lime render finish or a lime wash pigment is applied,rather than a modern masonry paint.
Do ensure that any angle beads,drip beads and mesh to hold the render is stainless steel as the lime will quickly attack the cheaper galvanised versions.
The render should be applied in two to three coats with time to part cure in between-a slower process, but worth doing it right!
Should you want more info on our approach to removing render, or for a site visit and quote, please do contact us via the website :