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Why do Bricks Turn Black? - Brick Cleaning

Have you got black stains on your Brick?

Black stains on bricks can be caused by natural discolouration like algae and lichen growth or the stains can be linked to human-prompted discolouration like carbon staining, vehicle pollution or unwanted paint staining.

Although staining on brickwork is common, especially on older buildings, there is a simple solution to restore buildings to their original beauty. In our latest blog, we’re going to share some of the most common black stains that can be found on the exterior of brick and stone facades and the best practices to effectively remove these stains. 


Lichen black stains on brick

Often property managers find one side of their building is damper than the other, this is usually the side that receives the least sunlight, but it can also be in locations near drainage pipes. These damp conditions provide a fertile breeding ground for black spot growth stains – otherwise known as lichen.

Lichen breeds within the porous, uneven brick surface. If left untreated, the lichen will continue to grow, which not only becomes harder to remove but will also cause damage to the wall by loosening mortar and brickwork, all of which will eventually result in costly repairs.



 Carbon black stains on bricks

Decades of carbon emissions from factories and industrial plants fill the air in cities with invisible particles which settle onto our brickwork and cause carbon stains. 

If you look around any major town or city, you’re likely to find black stains on the brick exterior of old buildings, monuments, and statues. These black stains, which will vary in dark/light shade of colour, will be carbon stains.

Rainwater helps to wash away the carbon particles, but the build-up over time will create black crust-like stains, which if left untreated, will lead to erosion and staining. 

Pollution black stains on bricks

Similar to carbon stains, black, oily stains on bricks, especially on the lower levels of an exterior wall, can be caused by vehicle pollution. If your building is on a busy road, at a junction where vehicles will be idling, or nearby any construction work for example, the emissions from the petrol fumes will cause discolouration and darkening of the brickwork


Unwanted paint stains on bricks

Black paint stains on bricks are likely to be the work of graffiti artists. Though if you have recently had work done to the roof of the property, then it could be tar stains or similar material staining. Either way, these black stains need to be treated immediately to avoid permanent damage to brickwork and your company’s reputation!


Why Do You Need to Clean These Stains?

Bricks are a porous substrate which needs to be able to release any liquid within their pores. The black stains we have discussed in this blog can block the pores and reduce the breathability of the stone. Having moisture trapped within the bricks will cause damage to the exterior by loosening mortar, eroding brickwork, and causing long-term stains. 

How to Remove Carbon Stains from Brick 

We are experienced contractors who know exactly how to determine which staining is present and clean the brickwork without causing further damage. We strongly advise against using pressure washers to remove stains from brickwork, as the pressure can sometimes cause splitting at the surface and erosion of the top layer of the brick. Damaged brickwork will lead to more water penetrating the brickwork, which will expand during the cold winter months, causing frost weathering. 

This is why it’s always best to go for a professional brick cleaning service like ours. In addition, much of the cleaning work takes place at height, and our specially trained team can operate using access equipment to give them the best possible cleaning position on any building.

Spectrum’s pioneering brick cleaning and rope access service allows us to restore brickwork to its former glory up to 8 floors, without a scaffold pole in sight.

We advise regular brick cleaning servicing to be undertaken on your property’s exterior as a preventative measure. This is especially recommended for old buildings to remove the first signs of black spots on bricks, caused by lichen or carbon pollution. Property managers should also contract a professional brick cleaning servicer, such as ourselves, to tidy up the brickwork after renovation works, as the brick is likely to be scuffed, marked, or stained with cement for example. See our Ultimate Guide To Professional Brick Restoration for more details about our services.


Spectrum’s Stone Cleaning Service

At Spectrum, we understand how important it is to keep your stonework clean and to preserve the building's natural beauty. Our DOFF cleaning process heats steam to 150 degrees Celsius which is an incredibly effective temperature to remove stains, discolouration, organic matter (such as algae) and paint/graffiti. The DOFF cleaning system can easily be transported to different locations, creating a quick and efficient stain removal service.

Our highly experienced team are experts in stone cleaning and masonry repairs, and we pride ourselves on our in-depth approach and scaffold-free cleaning. We provide our customers with a bespoke and fully flexible professional stone cleaning service, so if you are looking to transform your property, get in touch with our team today.



Back to Blog Posts

Read Our Major Building Works Blog

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18th February 2021

What is Brick Repointing?

10th March 2021

What Are the Stains On My Brick?

3rd June 2021

Rope Access in London

8th November 2022

Major Building Refurbishment Projects

10th February 2021

A Property Manager’s Guide to a Stone Cleaning Service

17th March 2021

Planned Maintenance Contractors

25th February 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Softwashing

26th August 2021

Maintaining Render to Meet Property Regulations

8th July 2021

How Can Rendered Walls Be Accessed?

4th August 2021

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