If you’re wondering why bricks are soaked in water before building a house, then you’re in the right place. In the sections below, you’ll find several reasons builders might soak bricks before using them.
People soak bricks before using them to build a house for several reasons. First, washing the bricks helps ensure there isn’t any dust or particles that would interfere with the adhesion of the mortar. Second, if a porous brick is dry, it acts like a sponge, soaking all the moisture from the mortar and causing cracking and weak adhesion.
But how long should you soak bricks before using them to build? Do you need to soak all bricks before building with them? Also, what type of bricks need to be soaked with water?
Let’s talk more about this below. The sections below will shed light on why people soak bricks before building a house.
Why are Bricks Soaked in Water?
When doing masonry, there’s an art to everything. Below, we discuss several reasons people choose to wet their brick or stone – or why they don’t. As you know, there are many variables when it comes to building. So, if you’re planning to lay bricks for your own house, make sure you consult a professional so they can assess your specific situation.
If you’re just adding some bricks of stone or decorations, then you don’t need to worry as much (of course, if you make a mistake, you’ll still have a lot of clean-up). However, if you’re building the foundation to an important structure, you don’t want to take any chances, and it’s best to consult a professional.
Here are three reasons to soak bricks before building:
- To clean the bricks
- To make the bricks stick
- Help the bricks adhere
Let’s look at these reasons in more depth, and then we’ll answer some common questions.
Wetting Bricks to Clean Them UP
If you’ve ever been in any workshop, you know things can get dusty. However, when you’re laying bricks at a job site, you’re dealing with more than dust. Sometimes, there’s an abundance of dirt, mud, concrete particles, and who knows what else.
If the bricks are left dirty when you lay them, you get several problems. First, the dirt and grime might inhibit the brick and the mortar adhesion. This could lead to structural problems or cause you to go back and fix a whole section – not a fun time.
However, in addition to potential problems with adhesion, you’ll also need to clean the bricks off later. If you don’t, you’ll be dealing with dirty bricks on the side of your home. No one likes another eyesore!
Even if you’re using bricks that don’t need to be soaked before use, it’s smart to at least lightly clean them.
Soaking Bricks to Help them Stick
Sometimes, when you’re adding decorative bricks to your home or doing other types of stonework, you might need to stick the bricks to a vertical surface.
This can be frustrating. As you try to stick the bricks to the surface, you’ll find they slip down, or worse, they don’t stick at all. One trick some people use is to wet the bricks a little bit before sticking them to the mortar. The slight moisture creates a sort of suction between the brick and the mortar, holding it to the wall.
However, if you use too much moisture, you risk making the bricks slippery, causing them to slide down the surface. If you’re curious to learn a little more about these techniques, you can watch this video discussing when to wet bricks before building.
Now, let’s talk about soaking bricks to make them bond.
Soaking Bricks to Make them Bond
Some types of bricks are incredibly porous. Essentially, this means they are like a sponge. Even if it’s hard to see it visibly, bricks will have little pores that soak up water. Now, it’s worth noting that there are all sorts of bricks – some will absorb a lot more water than others. So, not every brick needs to be soaked before placement.
Builders soak the bricks because it inhibits them from sucking all the moisture from the mortar. If these porous bricks were left completely dry, they would essentially “steal” the water from the mortar, leaving the compound less effective.
The goal is to allow bricks and mortar to work together, creating a strong, durable structure. Not all bricks need to be soaked for the same amount of time. If you’re building with bricks, consult a professional in your area to determine how long you should leave them in water.
Note: there’s a difference between wetting bricks and soaking them. Wetting a brick is just cleaning or applying moisture to the surface. Soaking them requires placing the bricks in a water bath and allowing them to sit. If you just wet the bricks when they need to be soaked, the bricks won’t have enough water for good adhesion.
We’ll talk about several more things to know about soaking bricks in the next sections.
Things to Know about Soaking Bricks for Houses
Here are several things to know about soaking bricks before building a structure. When it comes to bricklaying, there are nuanced approaches to different situations.
Things to know about soaking bricks:
- Some bricks don’t need to be soaked
- Know the difference between soaking and saturation
- Downsides to soaking bricks
- Weather and its effect on bricklaying
Below, we’ll look at these subjects in more depth.
Some Bricks Don’t Need to Be Soaked
You might be wondering which bricks need to be soaked and which bricks don’t need to be soaked? Well, the answer comes down to the grade of the brick. Typically, higher grade bricks with more advanced engineering won’t need to be soaked like lower quality bricks.
The best bet is to double-check with the person who made the bricks and ask the dealer where you’re buying the bricks. Your next question is probably this: What happens if you soak bricks that don’t need to be soaked?
If you soak a brick that doesn’t need any water, you can end up with the bricks “swimming” in the mortar. The bricks have too much water, and now they won’t bind properly with the mortar. This is why it’s important to double-check the type of brick you have.
Know the Difference Between Soaking and Saturation
Just like it’s smart to know the type of brick, it’s also wise to know the difference between soaking the brick and saturating. Some bricks only need to take on a specific amount of water before they’re ready for laying. However, if they take on too much water, they won’t bind properly with the mortar.
In fact, if a brick is completely saturated, it might even transfer water back to the mortar, diluting it and reducing the project’s integrity. For this reason, it’s wise to learn how long your bricks need to soak. If you’re interested, read more about the difference between soaking and saturating bricks.
Even though sometimes you need to soak bricks before building, there are downsides you should keep in mind. We’ll talk about these issues in the next section.
Downsides to Soaking Bricks
When you need to apply moisture to bricks, you can run into several problems. If you’re aware of the issues, you’ll be ready to combat them.
First, applying water to bricks can be messy. Remember all that work cleaning the bricks? Well, when you use water to lay them, you’ll need to clean them again. Why? Because the water will inevitably run down the outside of the bricks. If you don’t clean these little rivers up, you’ll end up with drip marks on the side of your project.
Second, moisture can make it hard to keep the brick wall straight and plumb. One of the most important things, especially with bricks for a foundation, is ensuring the bricks stay level. Applying moisture makes the brick slippery, and it’s easier for them to move out of alignment.
Just make sure you stay vigilant about double-checking the bricks stay in line. Otherwise, things can go off track.
How Weather Can Impact Bricklaying
Finally, consider how the weather can affect soaking your bricks. If you’re in an environment with high humidity, you might not need to soak the bricks as long (or at all). However, this will depend on the type of bricks and whether you’re in a cold or hot environment.
Of course, watch out for rain, as this will drastically change the moisture in your bricks! For this reason, many bricklayers keep a close eye on the weather when planning their projects. Alright, it’s time for our key takeaway.
Key takeaway on Soaking Bricks before Building a House
Probably the best way to learn about soaking bricks before building a house is to talk to a brickmason. They will have all sorts of answers on when and how to soak bricks.
In general, bricks are soaked when building a house for several reasons: cleaning them, increasing stickiness, and improving adhesion. Not all bricks need to be soaked before using, so it’s important to double-check your materials, your mortar, and your local weather.