Why on earth were houses covered in pebbledash? I can think of two reasons, first it was seen as a fashionable thing to do during the 1970s, and secondly to cover up damaged brickwork. For us I think that both applied to our house. When we moved in the front and back of the house were covered in a cream rendered pebbledash, that was old, dirty and very tired looking around the edges.
The house when we moved in.
One of the first jobs we did as part of our overall house renovation (before I took a real interest in renovations and interiors) was to have the pebbledash removed and the bricks restored on the front. My husband and I sat on this decision for a while as were slightly fearful about what was lying underneath it. We used a really lovely and knowledgeable company called Brick Clean London to do the work, who were confident that there was nothing too scary underneath, and the beautiful London stock bricks could be restored. We were reassured that it would be ok as there were no major cracks in the pebbledash, nor did the structure of the house reveal that there would be any major problems to having the pebbledash removed and the original bricks restored.
The pebbledash being removed.
The process of restoring the brickwork involved chipping (by hand) the old pebbledash off. I can still remember the constant tap, tap, tap and then thud. We did identify some problem areas, which could all be fixed, phew! It is likely that our house suffered damage from a bomb shockwave as there was a fair bit of damage to the brickwork above and below the office window, and above the front door, plus below the living room bay window. When you’re inside in our house, the way the landing slopes does kind of mirror where the damaged bricks were. I have no idea if the two are related, or if it’s because the old supporting wall between the old kitchen and dining room had sagged as it was only sat on the suspended timber floor above a 75cm void (something that we unmasked during the extension). Who knows? It doesn’t matter now.
Anyway I digress……
The pebbledash being removed, you can see the bricks underneath the window.
Once all of the pebbledash was removed the old pointing was scraped out, some new bricks were added, steel bars were placed in the gaps between the bricks where the most damage was to stop further cracks appearing, and some damaged bricks were taken out and put back in the other way round showing the less damaged side. This was to avoid adding new bricks to an Edwardian house which may have looked slightly odd.
The completed job with the scaffolding still in place.
The bricks were then sanded to remove any pebbledash adhesive and any smaller pieces of pebbledash that was still stuck to the bricks. As you can imagine this was so dusty, and to try to combat dust getting everywhere sheeting was placed around the scaffolding to try to contain as much as possible. However like with any renovation project dust really does get everywhere, and I am still finding dust from the sanding of the red bricks above the windows in the eaves today.
Once sanded the true colour of the bricks were revealed, and they are a beautiful golden yellow colour. It’s hard to believe that the whole road would have been this colour when the houses were built in 1910.
A close up of the brickwork and the red bricks forming the arch above the front door.
The beautifully restored London stock bricks.
The final part of the brick restoration process was the re-pointing. We choose a really light coloured pointing almost the colour of the brick themselves, which I am so pleased with. I love how the house looks now and I am so pleased that we chose to remove the pebbledash and to have the brickwork restored. Another small point but something to consider if you’re doing a similar project is that we had all of the disused wires removed, presumably from the days of dial-up broadboard when every room needed a phone point.
A close up of the restored bricks and the pointing.
At the time of doing these works we decided to leave the pebbledash on the back of the house as we knew that we would need to do something with it when extended. After the extension was built we had the first floor smooth rendered by our builder to match the extension. Our decision to leaving this rendered was because we have a huge bow in the back of the house and I really have no idea what could be hiding underneath that! As a side note you can read more about our kitchen extension here, how we did it and what the kitchen cost.
The back of the house before we extended.
The back of the house after the extension was built.
I hope that you have found this blog post useful? I do get a lot of questions about our pebbledash removal and brick restoration process on my Instagram mainly from others wanting reassurance, and I hope that this post has given you that. If the brickwork is beyond any sort of repair, you can revert to plan B to have it smooth rendered which would look amazing and help to bring your house up to the times.
Removal of the pebbledash and restoring the bricks on the front of the house was completed by Brick Clean London