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Dealing With Efflorescence

It is always nice to have a completed landscape project in your yard. If it was a do-it-yourself project, you have a feeling of pride and accomplishment. If it was completed by contractors, you have a new landscape to enjoy and are glad the construction is finished.

After a few weeks you might notice white stuff in patches on the surface of your new brick or concrete unit retaining wall, patio or walkway. What is that white stuff, and where did it come from? Can I get rid of it? Will it hurt the bricks or concrete blocks? Here are some answers about the white powder known as efflorescence.

What is Efflorescence?

Efflorescence is a naturally occurring process. It is due to soluble salts that are found in the materials used to manufacture brick and concrete products. The salts may come from sand, gravel, limestone or other natural materials. When walls, structures or pavement made from these materials become wet, the salts dissolve and move to the surface as water evaporates. This results in the whitish powder, which are actually the salts that you often see on brick buildings, masonry walls and similar structures.

Will Efflorescence Damage my Wall or Walk?

Efflorescence is essentially harmless. Its presence causes no structural damage to the components or integrity of walls or paved surfaces. More than anything, it is unsightly. Who wants to see their new landscape construction project marred by white patches and powder? You should be able to have a clean, beautiful brick wall or concrete paver patio to enjoy.

How to Get Rid of Efflorescence

There are a number of commercial efflorescence remover products available. They are typically acidic solutions that cause the efflorescence to dissipate. The easiest ones to use come with a sprayer bottle that you attach to a garden hose. You may want to ask your landscape contractor or local garden center for a recommendation. Though you may be in a hurry to put your efflorescence remover to work, it is probably best to wait awhile. With new construction, it often takes about two months for most of the soluble salts to work their way to the surface. It will not hurt your wall to treat it before that, but you will probably have to repeat the process again a few weeks later. It is worth noting that efflorescence will often go away on its own. Acidity in rainwater can break down efflorescence and cause it to wash away. This is not a quick process and may actually take several years. You probably do not want to wait that long. If your brick or concrete construction project has efflorescence, it is worth getting a removal product. Then you can enjoy your new landscape and have it looking its very best.

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