Keeping Masonry Strong: A Brick Matching Case Study

Words: Don Foster

Words and Photos: Don Foster

Finding a well-matched brick for a repair, window fill-in, or addition can be challenging. Available brick colors change over time, and sometimes the brick you are searching for has been discontinued. You want a brick that, ideally, is as close to the size, texture, and color of the original brick that you can find. What do you do, however, when it is still not enough? Who wants to be stuck with an unsightly, mismatched, repair that is embarrassingly obvious? This is where masonry staining comes into play for a better match. Aesthetics plays an important role in #MasonryStrong. Using a stain that matches the existing brick as closely as possible, is long-lasting, and will not compromise or damage the brick it is applied to is our time-proven remedy.

Case Studies have been around for some time and serve several purposes. In this case study, we want to research a Proven Masonry Stain for Brick and Mortar by exploring two major issues. First, we must examine the quality of its performance on brick, and on mortar as well. The three questions we will be considering concerning performance are as follows: Does this Proven Masonry Stain for Brick and Mortar compromise or damage the brick or mortar it is applied to? Secondly, does it cause a maintenance-free brick to become one that requires never-ending maintenance? Lastly, does the product stand up to #MasonryStrong’s claims about it?

The second issue we are considering is longevity. Institutions, businesses, and homeowners alike want a stain that stands the test of time. The field performance of a stain is one of the best measures there are for testing the sustainability of a product. One of brick’s greatest advantages is that it is made to be a maintenance-free product. Care, therefore, must be taken when we apply a stain to ensure it does not damage the brick’s maintenance-free properties. Care also must be taken that the application of our stains does not affect the long-term sustainability of the brick in any way.

This takes us back 21 years to a University in the St. Louis area. Their building addition and restoration project required many fill-ins and a few repairs in several different areas of the exterior, all of which needed brick and mortar stained/color enhancement. Brick is a maintenance-free product, but occasionally maintenance of the brick and mortar wall is necessary. This is especially true when architects and designers make changes to an existing building.

So many players who were involved in this University Project have come and gone over the years. But the building is still standing and looks great. Rick Conner, President of Masonry Cosmetics, warmly remembers that this project had a few challenges. He noted that “staining was an afterthought, and we made several different trips to this job as they completed different areas, and the University wanted a better color match.” Rick continued, “They did try to find a brick that was close, but it was just not close enough; the repairs and window fill-ins stood out. Overall, it still worked for us to stain/color enhance the brick, and in many areas, the mortar as well, getting the University an acceptable, and much better-looking match.”

The Proprietary Proven Masonry Stain was custom created on-site using color theory. Because the stain is transparent or translucent in nature, the background color of the brick plays a role in color development. In this case, multiple color recipes were created to represent the overall range in the brick we were trying to closely match for this project. Our stain does not create a layer on the brick as a paint-like stain does, and it cannot crack, blister, peel, or flake like a paint would. It is also a penetrating stain; absorption is key for the stain to embed itself in the pore structure of the brick or mortar it is applied to. This process is important. Our Proven Masonry Stain will not hurt or compromise the brick it is applied to, and at the same time, it is a long-lasting solution for mismatched brick and mortar. Proven Masonry Stain performs naturally, allowing the stained brick to breathe and to retain its color in the rain, looking just like the newer, unstained brick right next to it. This is a very important aesthetic in considering and comparing the performance of the stain.

Attention is in the details for any successful project, and it is important in this Case Study that we were able to document what the newly stained brick looked like 21 years ago. The Masonry Cosmetics Team’s photography was not as advanced then as it is today, but it did capture the results of our extensive work at that time. We went back in 2019/2020 to retake pictures showing how our project still looks today. Examples are given here illustrate the before, during, and after stages of the project 21 years ago, along with current photos of that building today, proof positive of the longevity success of the Proven Masonry Stain.

Universities provide wonderful and sometimes magnificent examples of the beauty, elegance, strength, and design that architects and all the building trades create. In many ways, these towering edifices can also play an important role in, and support the character of what and who we are. There is a real and deep connection in this masonry-strong industry that we all are a part of. This Case Study shows that 21 years later, the repairs and the fill-ins still look great and are functioning well. The color flow is unchanged, and there are no unsightly matches of brick or mortar on this building. A successful outcome, and one that we can all be proud of in keeping it #MasonryStrong.

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