EfflorecenceWhat’s that white powdery stuff that can appear on brickwork?

Well the technical name is Efflorecence

It can also appear on concrete!

What Is Efflorescence, & How Is It Caused?

Basically it is caused by water soluble salts contained in either the mortar, or the bricks.

When any water in the wall (that has dissolved the salts) comes to the surface of these building materials the water evaporates, leaving the salts on the surface.

Although the salts sometimes come from the bricks, more commonly they originate from the mortar.

Although some efflorescence may be as a result of the initial construction water; walls that are regularly wetted can have more persistent  issues, for instance:

  • Uncapped garden walls.
  • Retaining walls.
  • Walls exposed to driving rain.

Efflorescence is more prevalent on South and East facing walls as these are colder so the moisture gets to the face of the wall. North and West facing walls are generally warmer so the water evaporates before it reaches the surface leaving the salts inside the walls.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Efflorescence?

There are several things that can be done to minimise efflorescence including:

  • Overall design to keep water out of the wall structure.
  • Specifying Mortar Joints to keep water off the wall.
  • Protecting bricks from weather before they are laid
  • Specifying low alkali cement.
  • Specifying Washed Sand
  • Using a mortar admixture to minimise the water cement ratio.

Dealing With An Existing Problem

Probably the first step when dealing with an existing problem is ensuring the wall can be kept dry.

As long as there is a path for water to get to the surface it will be very hard to deal to achieve a permanent solution as water will continue to evaporate on the surface bring out fresh salts.

When removing the actual efflorescence its best to try a stiff brush first.

If this doesn’t work you can try hand washing again using a stiff brush. (Although it is tempting to wash the soluble salts off with a pressure washer the water can penetrate into the wall and then as the brickwork dries bring further salts to the service)

The final suggestion is to use a special chemical efflorescence removal chemical. (These tend to be acid based and need to be used exactly as the manufacturers recommend)


See Bricks for more posts


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Why I Won’t Be Buying Anti-Bacterial Paint

anti bacterial paint

Or Any Other Home Anti-Bacterial Products!

The other night on the television I saw (at least 5 times) an advert for anti-bacterial paint.

Here are five reasons why I think this is marketing hype, and I won’t be buying it:

Personal Experience

It might have been the ‘Good Old Days’ but my children, my wife and I have all reached adulthood in good health without these ‘Wonder Products’.

Increasing Allergies

Since these products became common in the Western World the rate of allergies has boomed. . . . Coincidence? . . . Some people don’t think so!

One of the suspects  of the allergy boom is that reduced exposure to infections in early childhood can lead to an increased risk of allergy in later life.

Whats Wrong with Soap and Water

Various studies including the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have failed to show there is no real advantage in these sort of products for everyday products.

The Risks of Anti-Bacterial Products

 One of the most common antibacterial products is the chemical Triclosan. Studies have found that this can get into the environment which isn’t a good idea as it can harm plants and animals.

If it can harm animals what is it going to do to me long term?

Are We Creating Super Bugs?

Its interesting that Hospitals, the most enthusiastic users of Anti-Bacterial Products, seem to frequently have problems with so called Super Bugs like Golden Staph.


In case you are thinking I am coming over all ‘New Age’ I can tell you I am an enthusiastic supporter of immunisation, and anti-bacterial products in the right place. (e.g. Chlorine in public drinking water supplies has been proven to be a major health benefit)


Want to Save money by painting yourself ? . . . Check:  DIY Painting first



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50 Sheds of Grey?

As a bloke are you feeling left out if your wife has read 50 Shades of Grey?

When you move into your new house will you get back to blokey stuff at the bottom of the garden?

Perhaps you need to get find out about . . . .

50 sheds

An exerpt:

“I want it now against this wall!” she ordered,

“And keep it up as long as possible.” 

“Don’t worry,” I said,

“I know how to put up a shelf.”


For more visit 50 Shades of Grey on Twitter.



For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?



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Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings

IP rating fittingIf you have bought an outside electrical switch, light, power point, or child proof power point, you may have seen it described with an IP rating. . . . but what does the IP numbers mean?

Understanding The Numbers

Well the IP rating (Ingress Protection Rating or International Protection Rating,) consists of two digits. These are defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission(IEC) Standard 60529.

  • The first digit is the degree of protection against the intrusion of a solid object (fingers, needle, screwdriver, or dust)
  • The second digit is the degree of protection against water.

Common Protection Levels

The following are the more common IP ratings encountered.

Penetration by Solid Objects

    • IP 3# – An access probe of 2.5mm diameter shall not penetrate.
    • IP4# – An access probe of 1.0mm diameter shall not penetrate.
    • IP5# – Limited ingress of dust permitted (no harmful deposit)
    • IP6# – Totally protected against the ingress of dust

Penetration By Water

    • IP#0 – No protection against water damage.
    • IP#1 – Protection against vertical falling water
    • IP#2 – Protected against sprays to 15°
    • IP#3 – Protected against sprays to 60°
    • IP#4 – Protected against water splashed from all directions.
    • IP#5 – Protected against jets of water.
    • IP#6 – Protected against strong jets of water.
    • IP#7 – Protected against the effects of temporary immersion in water to depth of up to 1m.
    • IP#8 – Protected against prolonged immersion in water

Although fittings with high IP Ratings are expensive remember they are keeping you safe!


See Electrical for more posts


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What Are You Going To Do With Your Backyard?

Guest post by Hubert Dwight

The humble Aussie backyard can be home to so many different recreational activities for the family.

It is the hub for barbecues, parties, social events, birth days, and gatherings of neighbours.

When you think about it, so much can go on in the backyard that it make sense to plan it just as much as you plan your home!

During the planning, and the construction of your new house, you should have plenty of time to plan and sketch out some ideas.

You need to make sure that your backyard is a reflection of who you are and how you want to live.

So here are some thoughts:

Go Zenzen garden

I like an area where I can sit peacefully and have time for reflection.

You can go all the way with a traditional Japanese garden like this, but the key is try to have a natural look to the garden and keep it simple.

Go for shrubs and ground cover plants rather than flowerbeds . . . . It’s not relaxing to sit and think about weeding the garden beds!

Make sure you provide a seat that is protected from the sun and rain.

Getting Wet

If being active is high on your list of garden activities, than you might think about putting a pool in.

You only have to fly into most Australian cities to see how popular pools are!

IF you don’t have the space for a pool then you could think about something like a Spa.

Spas will fit into remarkably small spots, and if you go for a swim spa you’ll be able to swim for as long and as hard as you like!

Even if you aren’t interested in a pool the sound of running water can be relaxing so it might be worth thinking about a fountainn or a decorative pond.

Think About The Children

The two issues about gardens and children are keeping them safe, and having somewhere to play

Keeping them Safe

If you go for a pool remember that drowning is a real risk.

For all new pool installations you will be required to provide childproof fencing which is great.

It will be up to you however to make sure you don’t compromise the safety by placing furniture next to the fencing which will allow a child to climb the fence.

Somewhere To Play

Most young children love to run around so having an area of lawn is always good, as the occasional fall shouldn’t cause an injury.

Some play equipment or a cubby house are also things to consider.

Entertaining Areacleverdeck_23

If you like to entertain, a deck is an option well worth considering.

Futurewood composite decking supplies would be a great place to look at options for long life low maintenance decking materials!

You can take it to the extreme if you really want to, but just make sure you have the basics of shade, some comfortable furniture, good lighting and – of course – a barbecue

If it all sounds a bit too much for your budget then just buy a basic furniture and Barbeque and upgrade when you can!


Whatever you do, make sure your backyard will be fun, and involve the whole family.


See Gardening for more posts


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Sloping Site – Win

sloping block - win

In this blog and my ‘Guide to Building a Block‘ I have talked a lot about the problems about building on a sloping block.

That doesn’t seemed to have worried the builder of this house I saw on www.axewielderx.wordpress.com

But how did they get the car in the garage?


For more Unusual House Photos, Wins, and Fails, have a look at: What the………………….?


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