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Brick sluffing

Brick sluffing

Brick sluffing

I am a structural engineer that works for a firm that specializes in restoration and preservation of historical and non-historical structures.

Many of you have probably experienced older brick that was typically not kiln dried to today's standards (probably in your own homes); therefore, the brick is more likely to suffer from sluffing.  For those that don't know what I mean, sluffing is when the outer layer of the brick deteriorates due to moisture changes on the surface of the brick.  One indication of sluffing is the piles of dust that collect when it falls off of the brick.

We are constantly dealing with brick in these older structures and would like to find a product and/or procedure for eliminating (in a perfect world) or atleast reducing/slowing the sluffing process.  If anyone has any information or insite, please respond.

Thanks in advance,


RE: Brick sluffing

I would suggest contacting the Brick Institute, they should have the latest info. on this.

RE: Brick sluffing


"Sluffing" is caused by moisture soaking into the brick, then freezing. This is particularly prevelant in porous brick (such as sun dried, or unfired).

To limit this action a quality masonry sealer is applied on the brick surface and the mortar joints (to stop moisture intrusion) at the exterior (or any) areas prone to moisture.

RE: Brick sluffing

You can use a masonry sealer, however, moisturte that is already in the brick will be trapped which will further cause the brick to deteriorate.  

I agree with jheidt2543 contact the BIA.  They may be able to help direct you to the proper source.

If it isn't to much trouble, let me know what they say.


RE: Brick sluffing

We have called it spalling and ERV is correct as to the ultimate cause and CSEIIc is correct as to avoiding the trapping of moisture within brick.

In many cases, I've seen this in old basement walls.  It is difficult sometimes to excavate the exterior to remove the source of moisture, but this is difficult in some cases.  Any alternative that would either eliminate the moisture entering the brick from the outside, or at least reducing it is the goal.

Some have tried drilling holes into the brick, through the wall, and injecting grout or other substances to waterproof the wall but this is not always very successful.

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