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In the few times I have replaced bricks in my home, I always feel the end result is a little messy. Specifically, despite my best efforts, the brick face ends up a little "smeared" with mortar. What is the best way to avoid this problem?

I thought this would be a common issue and searched online. Maybe I searched the wrong terms, because I mostly found references on how to clean up cured mortar (Muriatic acid).

In my case, I am talking about fresh mortar as the brick is laid. I am curious how Masons end with a nice, clean finished wall. Is it just experience and ability to keep the bricks clean in the first place? Or is there a washing / finishing step?

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Both of those things. Skilled masons drop fairly little mud, and they manage to keep from smearing it. There's often a cleanup phase involving acid, though.

You can keep a nylon brush and a bucket of water nearby and scrub periodically, before the mortar cures. If you give the joints a few minutes to firm up and work carefully you won't damage them.

  • wow, I had no idea acid wash was a standard step. Sounds a little involved for anything more than a couple of bricks. I guess that's why they high fresh grads, like @Lee Sam. For me and my one-or-two brick repairs, I think I'll just try the nylon brush with water, and live with any mortar that doesn't take off. – Roberto Jul 13 '18 at 1:57
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Ahhh...one of my first jobs after high school graduation. It’s hard work, but any brick can be cleaned. Follow this site:

https://www.doityourself.com/stry/bucketbrushcleaning

Dilute the acid according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. BTW, keep the wall surface wet or the acid will burn (discolor) the surface.

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