There are good reasons why brick homes have a history of being in demand with home buyers. Unlike wooden surfaces, a brick home can maintain its strength and attractive appearance without undergoing the cost and expense of a new coat of paint or stain every few years.

Good examples of this longevity are evident in historical brick homes, such as Bacon’s Castle, located in Surry, Virginia, which celebrated its 350th birthday in 2015. Even though brick homes are capable of lasting generations, homeowners who want to keep them looking their best, especially when preparing to sell, should consider the following tips to boost curb appeal and get the best possible price for their brick home.

Repair or Replace the Mortar

On most brick homes, the mortar used to hold the bricks together will show signs of wear or degradation much sooner than the bricks themselves. This can result in the appearance of holes or gaps between the bricks. Left alone these gaps allow water to make its way behind the brick surface, which can lead to moisture issues inside the home.

Even worse, when moisture seeps behind the brick surface and then freezes in winter, the pressure can cause heaving and cracking in the brick wall. Since this type of problem is expensive to repair, keeping the mortar in good condition is the best way to prevent this from happening.

Proceed Carefully When Making Repairs

While repairing minor holes in the mortar can be done relatively easily, widespread issues or signs of potentially serious damage should be evaluated and repaired by a qualified masonry professional to ensure that the appearance and structural strength of the wall is preserved.

Call a Professional

Because of the way brick walls are constructed, they can provide early warning signs of serious condition issues, such as settlement or structural damage. These often appear as bulges or cracks in the wall or changes in the surface of the bricks and may not be easy to see from a distance. Homeowners who find any signs of cracking, bulging or those that see very degraded mortar joints or missing or damaged bricks should consider having these issues professionally evaluated and appropriately repaired by a masonry professional to help enhance curb appeal and get the best possible offers for their home.

Improve the Appearance Through Cleaning

While many brick homes exhibit a beautifully aged patina as they grow older, others simply look worn and dirty. Homeowners who feel their home’s exterior brick walls are unattractive due to years of grime, discoloration or weathering may want to consider cleaning it to restore its appearance before placing it on the market.

If the brick has not been cleaned for years, or is extremely discolored, using a pressure washer will likely clean the surface more easily than a garden hose. Areas that are particularly dirty, discolored or covered with mold, mildew or mossy growth usually respond well to the use of a mild vinegar and water solution applied carefully with a soft brush and then rinsed thoroughly.

When cleaning brick walls, however, homeowners must always remember that mortar can be damaged easily. To avoid this problem, make sure to never use full pressure spray directly on the surface and never use harsh detergents, wire brushes or other abrasive materials to clean these walls.

Ryan Tollefsen is the founder and team leader of Unity Home Group. Ryan specializes in negotiating offers, marketing, managing the team, setting goals and achieving them.