Brick growth, what if you forget expansion joints?

Most people don’t know that bricks can actually grow over time and walls will expand. If appropriate allowance is not made for brick growth then wall damage will occur.

This historic brick facade is excellent example of serious damage:

Photos removed at owner’s request.

Correct placement of expansion joints is essential for prevention of serious damage to brickwork or other elements such as windows.

When we do a pre final inspection for you, this is one of the things we look for to make sure all your brickwork articulation joints are installed, in the right place and functional.

You would be surprised how many defects in new homes we find!




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4 Responses to Brick growth, what if you forget expansion joints?

  1. Luke says:

    Dear Building Expert,
    Can you confirm the period of the building in the photos, in particular if lime based mortar was used – refer “”. It looks like it may be a building constructed pre-1900 – if so, it s likely that lime based mortar (as opposed to cement based mortar) was used. My understanding of using lime based mortars is that the need for vertical expansion joints are less likely to be needed. This is evidenced by many/most Victorian era buildings having no visible expansion joints. Refer also to the NHBC Foundation publication “The use of lime-based mortars in new build” 2008. (I believe there may be other publications stating same, although I only had the aforementioned one handy.) If lime mortar was used, it would appear to me that the cause of the cracking, therefore, is possibly due to other factors (e.g. foundation heave, etc.) rather than “appropriate allowance …[not being]… made for brick growth”.


    • Luke says:

      Dear Building Expert,

      For the specific reference in the NHBC Foundation publication “The use of lime-based mortars in new build” 2008, see Page 4, dot point 2 “Movement within masonry walls built with lime-based mortars can be accommodated in the individual bedjoints between the masonry units, reducing the need for vertical movement joints.”


      • Building Expert says:

        irrespective of any publications, BCA requires brickwork articulation joints unless soil classification is A or S

    • Building Expert says:

      Hi Luke
      Yes it is likely lime mortar was used but that does not change the fact that the wall has grown over doorways causing horizontal shear and the end wall is pushed out of vertical.

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