Efflorescence Wall? 5 Effective Steps to Remove and Prevent

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19 March 2023 - 18:14, by , in Basement Waterproofing, No comments

What Is efflorescence and how causes efflorescence

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Efflorescence wall is the white or greyish powdery substance that appears on the surface of bricks, concrete, and other building materials.

Efflorescence on wall is a common phenomenon that occurs on walls and other masonry surfaces. It is a problem that can occur on basement and other surfaces when there is a combination of three factors. The efflorescence wall or efflorescence basement what causes because of 

  1. soluble salts in cementitious mortars, 
  2. water, and 
  3. a water path (passage for water to travel) 

This issue can be caused by excessive humidity, use of too much or not enough water while cleaning tile joints, outdoor exposed areas not being protected, long delays in drying after completion of tiling work, and grout mortar not properly filling up narrow joints.

How To Get Rid Of Efflorescence

How to treat efflorescence you will need to follow these steps:

Step 1- Identify the source of moisture: Is efflorescence wall or efflorescence basement a sign of damp? Before attempting to remove it, it is important to identify the source of moisture. If the moisture issue is not addressed, will continue to reappear even after it has been removed.

Step 2 – Clean the surface: Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove as much as possible. You can also use a solution of warm water and vinegar or a commercial cleaner to help dissolve the salts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning solution.

efflorescence wall on staircase

There are several sustainable and eco-friendly cleaning solutions that can be used to remove it from masonry surfaces. It is the same way on internal walls to clean. Here are a few examples:

Baking soda: Mix baking soda with warm water to create a paste, then apply the paste to the affected area with a stiff-bristled brush. Allow the paste to sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse the surface with clean water.

White vinegar: Mix white vinegar with warm water in a 1:1 ratio, then apply the solution to the affected area with a stiff-bristled brush. Allow the solution to sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse the surface with clean water.

Lemon juice: Mix fresh lemon juice with warm water in a 1:1 ratio, then apply the solution to the affected area with a stiff-bristled brush. Allow the solution to sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse the surface with clean water.

Hydrogen peroxide: Mix hydrogen peroxide with warm water in a 1:1 ratio, then apply the solution to the affected area with a stiff-bristled brush. Allow the solution to sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse the surface with clean water.

Using these eco-friendly and sustainable cleaning solutions can help to reduce the environmental impact while also providing an effective solution for removing the white powdery residue from masonry surfaces.

Step 3- Rinse the surface: After cleaning the surface, rinse it thoroughly with clean water to remove any remaining cleaning solution or loose debris.

Step 4 – Allow the surface to dry: Allow the surface to dry completely before applying any sealers or coatings.

Step 5- Apply a sealer: Once the surface is dry, you can apply a sealer or paint that stops efflorescence wall or water repellent to help prevent moisture from penetrating the surface and causing further efflorescence. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the sealer.

It is important to note that removing efflorescence can be a difficult and time-consuming process, especially if the source of moisture is not properly addressed. In some cases, it may be necessary to consult with a professional (Le Fong Building Services) on Whatsapp message below to properly diagnose and address the underlying moisture issue.

How to Prevent Efflorescence?

It is a white salt deposit which appears on efflorescence on internal walls and other masonry surfaces due to an imbalance of moisture, minerals, and water pressure. To prevent efflorescence wall, it’s important to take some preventative measures. 

  • For external flooring applications, ensure that the tile joints are filled quickly during works in progress and provide “shelter” to protect the joints from rainwater. 
  • Incorporate waterproofing barriers or HDPE waterproofing sheets  like flexible cementitious waterproofing mortar over the levelling beds before laying tiles with tile adhesive. 
  • Epoxy or polyurethane-based adhesives are also recommended for installing tiles or stones instead of cement-based adhesives. 
  • When not possible, use fast-setting cementitious adhesives containing lower content of Portland-cement in its formulation. 
  • Additionally, allowing the substrate to completely cure and dry out before tile installation 
  • Incorporating wider joint gaps between tiles so that joints can be properly grouted to sufficient depth. 

Is efflorescence common in basements and outdoor staircases?

It a common problem in basements and outdoor staircases, as these areas are often subjected to high levels of moisture. Is efflorescence a sign of damp? In basements, efflorescence can occur when water seeps through the foundation walls and concrete floors, carrying with it the soluble salts that cause the white powdery residue. In outdoor staircases, efflorescence can occur when water gets trapped in the masonry or concrete, such as in the joints between the steps or in the spaces between the stones.

 Is Efflorescence Harmful to Health?

It does not pose any immediate health risks, its presence indicates the presence of moisture or water in walls or other areas, creating a damp environment that can lead to mold and mildew growth. It is important to identify the source of the moisture and take corrective action to prevent further efflorescence wall as well airborne contamination from mold and mildew.

Related sustainable Green Building Products mentioned in the article

By preventing efflorescence on painted walls can help to improve the overall appearance of a building and reduce the need for harsh chemical cleaning agents, which can have negative environmental impacts. Additionally, many efflorescence sealers are water-based and low VOC (volatile organic compounds), which means that they release fewer harmful chemicals into the environment during application that certified green building products which can score points for Green Building Certification as well.

About author:
Nelson is a renowned author and construction engineering expert, specializing in waterproofing and roofing solutions. Graduating with a Master’s degree in construction engineering from the National University of Singapore (NUS), he applies his extensive practical experience and deep theoretical knowledge to author comprehensive guides on effective flooring practices. When he’s not writing or consulting, Nelson enjoys exploring new architectural designs and spending time with his family in Singapore.

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