Answers to Your Brick Questions #2

Q. I am removing a sunroom the previous owners installed. I have no idea what they were thinking, because the yard is way too small. The installer used liquid nail to the attach the plasterboard to the exterior brick wall. Does anyone know of a way to remove the liquid nail with minimal damage to the brick?


In general, Liquid Nails adhesives & caulks can be scraped off when they are softened either by:
1. Heating it above 140°F with an electric heat gun or a blow dryer.
2. Soaking the adhesive with petroleum jelly, mineral spirits or Liquid Nails Adhesive and Caulk Remover for several hours to several days. (Note that mineral spirits and/or our Remover are not recommended for tub surrounds, vinyl, and plastic, painted or varnished.)

Q. I've had less than great success when pointing the vertical area between the stone on the exterior of our house. In fact, I've made quite a mess, spilling more mortar than applied. I'm looking for tips on how to fill in vertical areas. Any ideas?

A. If handling the mortar is the problem, a mortar bag may be the ticket. It looks the same as a pastry bag, funnel-shaped to dispense mortar.

Q. I am trying to mount a flag holder into bricks. Is it safe to drill, and if so, is there a special drill bit, or is it OK to use concrete nails?

A. Use a masonry bit to drill the holes, plastic anchors inserted into the holes, and screws sized for the anchors. Concrete nails would be OK in the mortar, but will shatter the bricks. They won't hold nearly so well as the screws and anchors option.

Q. I am taking down a brick chimney, and the bricks are in excellent shape. Do used bricks have enough value to make them worth salvaging?

A. New brick without mortar smeared on them are about 20 or 30 cents each. If you can find someone that wants them to match their brick, they have value to that person. They may have value to you if you have the same brick used elsewhere and want to save them for future matching.

Q. I want to put in a sliding door in my home. The exterior is brick. Am I correct in using a masonry blade on my circular saw and slowly cutting the dimensions of the door? Is there anything I need to do to the opening after this is done or just install the door and put on the trim?

A. Make sure you put on flashing to keep the rain out. A brick wall is not the primary waterproofing - it is a veneer. The door manufacturers all have installation instructions. Make sure the opening is adequate to allow you to shim the door and put on the brick mold.

Q. I am thinking of replacing our retaining wall, which is currently some weird wood/bamboo type material, with brick. I have had a couple of estimates from some contractors but it is expensive. All I need to do is put up a 4 foot retaining wall in a semi circle on my front yard. Apparently, I don't even need to use concrete since I will not be breaking bricks in to smaller sizes (as done for a porch), and I can just glue them (probably a special brick glue). It seems to be simple enough: dig a little, level the ground and start placing the bricks, making sure to backfill it. My question is, am I being too ambitious? Do a lot of people do their own brickwork if it's for a small project? If so, how do you manage the curve when making a semi-circle?

A. If you glue or mortar the bricks together, you will need a footer to keep the wall from shifting and breaking apart. If you use the segmented retaining wall blocks that are stacked and offset from front to back, you won't need footer. These are intended to sit on the leveled ground. Since they are not mortared together, they can shift with the ground. I don't understand what you mean by bricks broken into smaller pieces such as for a porch. Four feet is about the limit for a segmented wall without some engineering design. Moreover, some locales require a building permit for walls over a certain height. You might check with your department to see if one is required. Laying a semi-circle with these blocks is as simple as describing the arc then scraping a place for the bricks.

Q. I'm planning on removing the old and cracked concrete on my patio and having it replaced with brick pavers, but I can't decide between a sand base and a concrete base installation. I'd like something more permanent and weather resistant without having to worry about weeds or heaving. I'm working on a budget and worry about the extra cost of the concrete installation.

A. You can use polymeric sand to fill in between the pavers instead of masons sand. This sand hardens like a mortar after you follow the steps to properly wet it down.

Q. I need to know how to remove spray paint from the brick outside wall of a house.

A. Try scrubbing it with detergent and a stiff brush. Products like 'goof-off' or 'oops' may help. If it is stubborn, use a wire brush.

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