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Friday, July 24, 2009

How To: Repair Masonry Walks

The walk to the front door of my house is a lovely, curving masonry walkway with two semicircular steps before you end at the concrete porch.



Let's take a closer look at the steps shall we:



Hmm....I see some problems but let's take an even closer look:

Missing sand and plants growing in the cracks - definitely not something you want people to see when they approach your home. In less time than it took to paint my front door, I was able to remedy this problem. Wanna know how? Of course you do.
  1. Use a power washer to remove ALL of the old sand and weeds from between the bricks.

  2. Spread a thin layer of fine sand (usually called patio sand - not the play sand you put in sand boxes) over the surface and gently sweep it back and forth so the sand fills the joints.

  3. Once the joints are full of the sand, hose off the entire surface with a fine spray to wash away the remaining sand particles. This compacts the sand and forces it into the joints.

  4. Repeat, sweeping in more sand and spraying until the sand is level with the top of the bricks.
Easy right?!? I thought so too until the first rainfall. While almost all of my joints stayed intact after our first storm the top step didn't fare so well since heavy rain was beating down on the stairs from the porch roof. You can kind of see what I'm talking about here:

See how the roof hangs over the steps? So back to Lowes I went to get another solution. You can make your patio (or stairs/walk) more permanent by using a dry mortar mix rather than just plain sand in the joints. You apply it the same way you do the sand - sweep it into the joints, remove excess mortar and sprinkle with water until the mix is wet. The only difference is that you repeat the sprinkling process twice at 15-minutes intervals to ensure you have enough water in the mortar. The mortar will harden in a few hours and fully cure in a week.

No more cracks! No more weeds! The only thing I wasn't 1000% thrilled with is the mortar lightened the bricks a little but they still look great!



It was impossible to get the sand or mortar to stay in cracks that were on the edges of the steps if the cracks were too wide. No biggie though - those bricks are still solid and not moving anytime soon.

My walk/stairs have held up through some strong storms in the past month so I know I did something right!

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