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Property Surveying Blog
May 4, 2020

Typical Brick Defects

Written by Bradley Mackenzie

In this week’s blog post, I will be discussing the typical defects that occur to brickwork and their common causes.

Defective brickwork can have various causes, this could include poor design, workmanship and whilst bricks are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, they can at times succumb to them.

Let’s discuss some common brick defects:



Efflorescence can be spotted relatively easy as drying grey or white patches on the brickwork on the outer face of buildings.

This type of defect is visually unappealing to most owners or passers-by, although in my opinion, it can add some character to a building from a different perspective!

This defect does not cause any structural risk and is usually caused because of the presence of alkali in bricks.

This defect can be minimised by preventing brick to come into contact with excessive moisture. Waterproof coping and using water repellent materials within the mortar as well as damp proof course is all possible solutions.

Cracking in Brickwork

Party Wall Movement


Various different types of cracking can at times appear within the brickwork. One of these cracks includes straight cracks which usually appear along the longer side of the brick.

The usual cause of this type of crack is predominantly rapid drying. Sometimes, there can be random cracks which initiate on the surface of the brick. This can be caused by differential drying or even presence of pebbles in the clay mix.

Brick Spalling

Spalling is a type of failure which is caused by excessive moisture within the brick.

Usually, you can identify this when a portion of a brick is flaking or breaking away. Especially in the UK, brickwork can succumb to spalling due to the freeze/thaw cycle.

For instance during harsh winters, water from rainfall or soil can freeze within the brickwork and when the temperatures drop they will tend to melt. This cycle can saturate the brickwork and cause spalling.

Defects in Brick Size

It is common to see bricks that are oversized in 3 dimensions, this includes the width, length and thickness of a brick.

The difference in length and width can be caused by squashing when the brick is still wet. This may occur when the brick is set down for drying.

The difference in thickness can be caused during the wiring process when the block of clay goes through a row of wires. This can sometimes change the dimension of a brick.

Interestingly, countries such as India regularly mould the bricks by hand. Whilst attending sites to conduct Schedule of Condition reports, I have noticed some of the older properties dating back to the 15th century have hand-moulded bricks which can sometimes have a difference in thickness. However, this adds great character to a property and perceived value.

Lastly, defective brickwork can cause various problems to a structure. A common issue often associated with defective brickwork is penetrating damp.

If your property has suffered damage and you would like to pinpoint the cause and remedial works, then I would suggest to contact us to discuss a Defect Analysis Report. This report comprehensively looks into the issues and suggests remedial works too as well as estimated repair amount.

To find out more about a defect analysis report I would suggest contacting one of our Surveyors or taking a look at our website.