SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2002

Spalling of Brick


Brick is normally selected for use in exterior walls and paving by owners and designers because of its durability, appearance, and low maintenance. However, occasional spalling of the exposed surface of brick in service has occurred that has created concerns on the durability of brick and on the accuracy of the preconstruction indicators of brick durability established by the masonry industry. Investigations of spalled brick performed by the author have revealed that this spalling is primarily caused by water that gained access into the brick. Compressive forces in the wall can also cause spalling of brick. The water absorption preconstruction indicators of brick durability specified by C216 for Grade SW brick were found to be reliable for standard size brick in properly designed and constructed walls exposed to normal weather conditions. However, they may not be reliable for uncored special size brick that are larger than standard size brick, and for brick exposed to weather conditions that are more severe than the C67 freezing and thawing test conditions. Brick that are longer than 8 in. (203 mm) were found to be less durable due to under firing than brick in the same run that are 8 in. (203 mm) or less and that were properly fired. This paper presents information on the causes of spalling of brick as determined from the investigations and on recommendations to minimize spalling of brick on buildings and paving.

Author Information

Chin, IR
Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., Chicago, IL
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Developed by Committee: C15
Pages: 97–112
DOI: 10.1520/STP11036S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5470-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-3450-8