Sealing Bricks-is it necessary?

Old 08-11-12, 10:08 AM
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Sealing Bricks-is it necessary?

We live in southern california. We have some decorative brick planters as well as door steps and bordering on the drive way, all facing the southern sun.

Questions I have are

-Is it really necessary to 'seal' them as the manufacturers claim? (I have not seen any home owners in the neighborhood doing that)
-is the purpose of sealing to preserve from wear and tear or to preserve the
original finish?

I am thinking of using BEHR low lustre concrete and masonry coat which is ethylene glycol based product.

Thanks much!
Old 08-11-12, 10:37 AM
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I would never seal brick & certainly never paint it. According to a chimney guy whom I know, the brick has to breathe.
Old 08-11-12, 11:25 AM
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You don't want your neighborhood dogs and cats licking ethylene glycol, either. It is basically antifreeze. As Pulpo said, bricks should breathe.
Old 08-11-12, 11:58 AM
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In SoCal....I don't think it's a big deal. Sealing may preserve the color for a while I seem to remember.

In extreme climates...I think brick is indeed sealed to prevent the rain that came down during the day from freezing at night and causing spalling.

There may be better products than Behr...there normally is.
Old 08-11-12, 03:13 PM
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Sealing bricks with anything is not generally adviseable, for 2 main reasons;

1. in temperate or cool/cold climates, the sealant retains moisture within the brick. When it freezes in winter, the water in the brick turns to ice, expanding by around 10% in volume, and shaling the surface off the brick in the process.

2. Even in warm climes, where frost may not be a problem, sealing can still cause damage through trapping salts in the brickwork. This is particularly the case for free-standing or retaining walls, where the salts can migrate from the earth. Sulphates are the worst culprit in this case.

As another poster has said, let the bricks b r e a t h.
Old 08-11-12, 04:18 PM
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Sealing will not appreciably affect fading, if any, since fading comes from UV rays plus the brick is naturally colored that is caused by the chemical composition of the clay and the firing effects at almost 2000F in a kiln.

Old 08-13-12, 10:23 AM
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Thanks everyone for the comments.

I should have said a few more things:
-the bricks we have are the 'used bricks' look.
-I have noticed that the bricks laid flat like at entry way and around the concrete drive way have over the years faded or weathered more than the vertical bricks around the planter. May be due to direct exposure to sun and the traffic they get.

I gather from all the feedback, it is not necessary to seal the bricks for structural integrity; however I may coat the bricks laid flat that get the traffic and the direct sun just to preserve the fresh look.


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