Revealing the Pros and Cons of Exposed Brick and How to Take Care of It
The first fired bricks appeared sometime around 5,000 B.C., and they've remained one of the longest-lasting, strongest, and most aesthetically-pleasing materials around.
And since the development of brick, it's been covered with marble or other stone, layered with plaster and lath, coated with whitewash, and most recently in interior renovations of existing buildings, revealed and left exposed.
Exposed brick brings a sense of warmth, character, and texture to a space. It also speaks to the history of a building, of the hand that carefully laid down each brick, and of a craft that's quickly becoming less and less common.
At the same time, however, renovation experts often bemoan the removal of old plaster to expose brick, citing the myriad of moisture and deterioration issues that can arise—and they're not wrong.
Most existing brick buildings, unless they were constructed for manufacturing or other industrial uses, would have covered their brick surfaces with plaster and lath to create a smooth, seamless wall. In fact, these interior wythes, or layers, of brick were usually not of high enough quality to produce a presentable, dry, and solid finish.
So, how do you appease both the renovation expert and your heart's desire for the warmth and character of exposed brick? A few simple, but necessary steps should be taken.