Way back when I first started my career in the Home Improvement industry, I heard the term ‘efflorescence’ and it immediately intrigued me.
I don’t know if it is because I enjoy the way the word rolled off my tongue (say it – ‘efflorescence’ – pretty fun, no?.
I don’t know if it is because when I learned what it was, started pointing it out in meetings with Clients when I happened to notice it, and then felt pretty fancy knowing something of this particular nature.
Or perhaps there is no real rhyme or reason for it, I simply magnetically gravitated toward this specific issue.
If you have ever noticed a white, powdery substance on any masonry (brick, cinderblock, cement, etc.) on the inside or outside of your home or business, it could be on bare masonry or it could be on masonry that has been painted in the past, chances are that it is efflorescence.
So what EXACTLY is efflorescence??
Efflorescence is something that occurs when soluble salts and other water dispersible materials come to the surface of concrete and mortars.
Efflorescence is prompted by low temperatures & moist conditions (think condensation, rain, dew, and water).
Efflorescence is something that gradually builds up over a period of time.
I have seen it in the form of a light coating and I have seen it super chunky.
Efflorescence by itself is not a harmful situation, but it can be an indicator that there is some issue with moisture developing behind or within the areas it is stemming from.
How does one get rid of efflorescence?
Well, assuming that you are convinced that there is not an ongoing moisture challenge behind where the efflorescence is congregating, there are a number of methods that could be used.
Though if there is the possibility of a moisture problem causing the efflorescence, my recommendation is to remedy the moisture challenge prior to removing the efflorescence or you may be spinning your tires as the efflorescence may soon return.
Once you have determined the approach from a dealing with the moisture challenge standpoint, the efflorescence can be addressed by a variety of different means.
You can try washing it off with a mild detergent and a stiff scrub brush.
You can also attempt carefully powerwashing it off.
If it is deeply embedded within the masonry however, your only real option may be to glassblast (or some other type of media blast) it off, at which point you should probably have a professional come out to evaluate it.
If it is a painted surface or even if it is not, you may prefer to prep & paint the surface after the efflorescence has been removed.
For me, certainly a fun word to say, although the process of addressing the phenomena itself, obviously may not be as enjoyable!
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