Brick detailing ruined by cement

Lovely brick arch revealed on front of house

If it weren’t for the addition of cement render over the years I think that this detail would have been recoverable, however the cement has pulled off the surface of the bricks and also caused them to break over time.

This detail would have been nice to re-instate on an otherwise bland looking terrace house, but without replacing all of the bricks it is just not possible.

The use of inappropriate materials therefore has an aesthetic effect on older properties as well as the fundamental damage that they cause by changing the way in which they work.

The damage is caused by the cement being too hard and strong. Basically the mortar and / or render should be weaker than the underpinning structure. Having a harder material means that it is the structure that is damaged when the outer coating is removed. Mortars should just be there to keep the main structural blocks apart and the render is there as their protective external wearing layer. Instead cement changes this to a system where the render is the dominant player and the main structure becomes it servant. Surely we can see that this is fundamentally wrong.

Anyway, my wall will just be a plain render finish (as planned), but seeing that lovely level of detail that was in the original house just illustrates to me what has been lost through the use of modern building materials on an old property. Shame.