It's inevitable: brick patios and walls get exposed to the elements or something else creates a stain: mortar, mildew, rust, paint, even graffiti. Before you attack it with your power washer, find out the best remedies for your patio or wall's particular stain, or it will not-so-mysteriously find its way back onto your brick masterpiece. Remember: there's never a quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solution to anything.
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When using mortars, workers—do-it-yourselfers included—sometimes get sloppy. What results are mortar smears, which show up after the mortar has dried. To remove stains, use a muriatic acid solution:
- Dark bricks or stone: 1 part acid to 10 parts water
- Light: 1 part acid to 15 parts water.
- Caution: Pour acid slowly into water; never pour water into acid. Apply as directed, allow to stand for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
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Efflorescence is that white, or grayish white substance that shows up on brick, stone, paver and other outdoor construction projects in which mortar is used. It happens when mineral salts in the mortar are dissolved by water, and can also be referred to as calcium hydroxide or free lime.
It usually appears a few weeks after the project has been completed, creating a certain anxiety for the homeowners. Before complaining to your contractor though, why not tackle the cleaning project yourself?
Wear a ventilation mask, long sleeves, protective eyewear, and strong, synthetic gloves when applying acid. Use a long-handled, coarse-bristled brush.
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- Try scrubbing the rusty object with a household bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 1 part water and allow it to stand for 15 minutes, then rinse.
- If that doesn't do the trick, attack it with a solution of 1 pound of oxalic acid to 1 gallon of water.
- Allow this to stand for about five minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
- Test the oxalic mixture on a small, out-of-sight area first, to make sure it doesn't create another type of stain on the brick or stone.
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