Yes, brick pavers tend to break down faster in Michigan and other Midwest states due to humid climatic conditions, wet weather patterns, long periods of cold temperatures, and repetitive freezing and thawing cycles.

These climatic conditions mean brick pavers are often overexposed to water and moisture, the top cause of brick deterioration. 

If you live in an area that is often rainy in the spring and snowy and cold in the winter, keep reading this article to learn more about how to protect your brick surfaces and prevent future deterioration. 

Prevention Tip #1: Avoid Using Salt & Ice Melters Not Designed for Brick

A brick surface on the ground is covered in rock salt

In the winter, you’ll likely throw salt or another deicer on your brick driveways, walkways, patios, and other outdoor surfaces to prevent ice and melt snow. However, most store-bought deicers and salt can damage brick surfaces for several reasons:

  1. Salt and deicers can lower the water’s freezing point, allowing the bricks to absorb more water than usual. Any moisture in the bricks will expand or contract based on temperature fluctuations, eventually resulting in cracking and spalling.
  2. The chemicals in salts and deicers can react with the materials in the bricks and mortar, causing deterioration to occur faster. 
  3. Salt and deicers can also leave a gray/white powdery substance on the surface, sometimes called efflorescence. While efflorescence is not harmful and only affects the appearance of your brick pavers, the salt itself can weaken the surface of your brick. 

In the future, choose ice melters that don’t contain salt or chloride. Usually, the deicers labeled pet-friendly are free of chloride but double-check to ensure the deicers you’re purchasing are chloride- and salt-free.

Prevention Tip #2: Replace & Repair Damaged Bricks & Mortar

If your pavers have noticeable cracks or other damage, it will increase the chances of water infiltration, which speeds up brick deterioration. When water gets into cracks in the pavers or joints with missing mortar and freezes, it expands, causing the gaps to swell.

Then, when the ice melts, the cracks remain larger than before. Be aware that brick repairs should not be put off. Have them addressed quickly because the damage will only worsen with time.

Prevention Tip #3: Clean Brick Pavers, But Avoid Constant Power Washing

Keeping your bricks free of debris, weeds, and moss is important. However, power washing brick pavers, especially if they have extreme cracks or gaps, can cause unnecessary water damage that can contribute to faster brick degradation. That doesn’t necessarily mean that power washing bricks is bad to do—it’s just not recommended for significantly aged or damaged bricks. 

If your bricks are in relatively good condition, remove small debris with a soft-bristled broom and deep clean them with a power washer on a low-pressure setting. We also recommend working with a cleaning professional to ensure safety and higher-quality results. 

Prevention Tip #4: Ensure You Replace Joint Sand

pavers with joint sand on top of them

Paver joint sand is essential for multiple reasons—it helps prevent weed growth, keeps the interlocked pattern of the pavers securely intact, prevents water damage, reduces brick shifting and stability, and decreases risks of ants and other pest infestations.

If weeds, moss, or other vegetation are growing between your pavers, remove them from their roots. Then, use a stiff-bristled push broom to sweep fresh polymeric sand into the joints— ensure the sand is well-compacted in the joints.

Prolong the Lifespan of Your Brick Pavers With Help From All Brick

All Brick specializes in helping Michigan homeowners repair, restore, and maintain their brick patios, driveways, chimneys, walls, and more. 

Visit our blog for more helpful resources and tips, or contact us today to get help with preventing or repairing brick deterioration in your home.

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