What is Efflorescence?

Supreme Exterior Clean - Property Cleaners in Newcastle

Have you ever looked at the outside walls of your house, and wondered why the brickwork looks off-colour? Are you disappointed that your new build home should be fresh and clean, but the walls are stained with what looks like white powder? No matter how old or new the building is, this is likely to be signs of efflorescence.

With a new build home, it’s known as ‘new building bloom,’ as in French, efflorescence means “to flower out.” In straightforward terms, it’s a white powdery substance (salt) on or underneath the surface of external walls, particularly bricks, stone, rock, mortar, or cement.

What causes efflorescence?

The cause is simple but requires a bit of science to explain!

It is formed when water is present within brick, stone, rock, cement, or other building materials. Water can be absorbed into these materials at any point, and as many materials also contain soluble salts, as the water comes to the surface and evaporates, it leaves behind the salts it has collected along the way.

The salt that is left on the surface then forms the powdery crystalline deposit, or what looks like staining, on the surface.

The reason you will often see efflorescence on newer properties is because the building materials still contain a relatively high salt content, which will take time to be washed out. During the build stages, materials and brickwork can become wet if left without cover, which is often the case. However, it won’t last too long on new build properties if tended to early on.

Older homes tend to show it because the owners will probably have tried to clean it up several times over the years (more than likely with the wrong products and cleaning techniques) and have simply given up trying!

Here at Supreme Exterior Clean, we are often asked to clear efflorescence from both newly built properties and those which have been left for some time without maintenance and attention. It’s generally because they just don’t know how to remove it themselves. But that’s why you should call for a professional exterior cleaning company to help you out.

Harsh weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow and frost can increase the chances of efflorescence. So it’s worth keeping an eye on your exterior brickwork for any signs.

Is efflorescence harmful?

It causes no real danger to your property but looks unsightly. And it is particularly frustrating if you are in a new build that you want to look especially clean and fresh.

Once you know the cause though, it needn’t be too much of a challenge. But it’s worth noting that it’s not the efflorescence (or salt substance) that could be potentially harmful for your property, it’s the presence of the water.

So, although you may think that pressure washing or scrubbing the walls with water and cleaning solution will solve the problem, this could lead to more serious structural problems.

The more water you introduce, the deeper it will go into the porous materials. And the more salts will be brought to the surface in the evaporation process. This will start to cause issues with the mortar or cement, as well as the brickwork and other structural materials.

The reason many homeowners despair at being unable to remove all traces of efflorescence, is that it could take hundreds of rinses to remove all the salts within the building materials. It will eventually happen, but in the multiple attempts to do so, more water has been added which could then also lead to damp, mould, and other staining.

If you notice larger areas of white powdery residue on your walls, which is thick enough to wipe or pick up with your fingers, it could be a sign of an internal leak or breach of damp proof membrane.

Whilst we can clean and clear it, we would always recommend bringing in a qualified builder who can check it out for you and carry out any necessary repairs first.

We don’t want to just ‘paper over the cracks’ in cases where there could be something more sinister underneath the surface.

How can Supreme Exterior Clean remove efflorescence?

We are the exterior cleaning professionals in the North East and West Midlands areas, for all your cleaning needs.

Using only environmentally friendly and state of the art cleaning products and techniques, we can eradicate efflorescence from the exterior of your building safely, effectively, and efficiently.

Once we have thoroughly assessed the building and areas to be treated, we carefully wash the surface with pressurized water, and allow to dry completely.

We then apply our specialist chemical treatment and leave to settle to achieve the best results. After one final wash, we leave the surface to dry again. We may need to go through the whole process more than once, depending on how extreme the damage is. But we will keep you up to date throughout.

When we know you are satisfied with the immediate results, we will leave, safe in the knowledge that efflorescence will no longer be a problem for you.

We can talk to you about roof cleaning, graffiti removal, stone cleaning and removing efflorescence all at the same time to give your property a complete top to bottom makeover! If you have any questions or would like to arrange for a no-obligation free of charge quotation, for any of our exterior cleaning services, please do not hesitate to contact us today.