Masonry can suddenly crack or crumble, and while most homeowners are content to ignore this situation, it can be the beginning of a serious problem. While masonry cracks can seem mostly cosmetic, they can also damage the building during cold weather by allowing water to enter and then expand into the brickwork as it freezes. While it seems a lot of effort for a few little cracks, taking care over repairs now can save your building from more serious damage. Depending upon the size of the cracks, there are a range of things that you can do to quickly repair masonry.
Small Cracks in Walls
For small or hairline cracks, it is a difficult task to find something that can fit into the space to fill it. At your local hardware store, look for creams and gels which contain silicone rubber, or even butyl rubber. These gels will usually appear in tubes, and are described as caulking compounds. Apply the gels using a stiff brush with small bristles: clean out the crack first, and then squeeze the tube into the crack, until the rubber gel is tightly packed. Only use this kind of treatment for very small cracks, where more traditional caulking methods would not work: for cracks which are more than a sixteenth of an inch wide, you will need to use other solutions.
Medium Cracks in Walls and Driveway Cracks
For cracks in driveways and patios, it is not always possible to use caulking: walking on the surfaces can disrupt the caulking, making it useless. Medium sized cracks in walls may also be resistant to caulking processes. Instead, use a patching cement, which is a mixture of sand and cement: those which have been reinforced with vinyl, and described as vinyl patching cement, are the best for this purpose. Patching cements are usually found in powders, and are used after mixing with water. The best use for this cement is in patching narrow cracks: applying the cement in layers can also help it to be used on medium cracks in walls.
Large Cracks in Walls
If you have found a large crack in your masonry, then the best solution is to use sand-patching cement, although you should be aware that it must be used in layers of over half an inch thick, and the crack must be a significant size for the patching to adhere firmly. Before applying the patch, you will need to dig out the crack with a chisel: remove all crumbling masonry around the crack, and make the crack wider inside than it is on the face. This will help the patch to grip to the surface better. Brush away dirt, and make the inside of the crack damp before applying the patch.
Large Cracks in Pavements
For large cracks in pavements, steps or driveways, you should use a concrete mix. This can be bought in powdered form from home improvement stores, or can be mixed by yourself as sand, cement and gravel. Add water to the mixed ingredients, until you have formed a concrete-like paste. You will need to create something to keep the concrete in place while it hardens.