Adelaide is rightly proud of its beaches and their easy accessibility from just about anywhere in the city. Unsurprisingly, its many beachside suburbs have always been extremely popular places to live, and so this means there are houses and properties along the coast in a wide variety of building styles, from classic Adelaide sandstone and bluestone villas from the nineteenth century in and around Semaphore and Tennyson, to the high-rise apartment blocks along the beachfront at Glenelg, to modern, contemporary townhouses that can be found at Henley Beach or Grange. These very different housing styles can often be found side by side, and this variety is for many part of the attraction of living in Adelaide beachside suburbs.
However, there is one thing that all of these very different styles of property have in common – the potential damage that can be caused to building structures by being so close to the sea as a result of salt deterioration.
Particularly in older properties (including those built up until the 1970s), exposure to salt can lead to a gradual disintegration of soft lime mortar, which can over time become a powder and which leads to decreased efficacy. This form of salt deterioration can, in extreme cases, extend throughout the entire brickwork and can have serious implications for structural integrity. This is naturally more of a problem for properties right by the sea, but can also affect buildings and houses up to a couple of kilometres away.
The surface of exposed brick can also be affected as result of exposure to salt. Crystals are absorbed into the pores of the bricks, and these then expand (in a process known as surface delamination), and this affects the overall strength and integrity of the brick surface as the outer hardness is diminished. Once this is lost, any further deterioration of the brickwork will be accelerated.
Wall ties are the means by which the external brickwork is secured to the frame of the building. Exposure to sea air can lead to rusting, which means that the brickwork becomes less secure and can bow outwards, undermining its strength and integrity and this, in extreme cases, can lead to a partial collapse of exterior walls. This problem can be further exacerbated if mortar has likewise deteriorated.
Different types of roof tiles have varying degrees of tolerance to salt, and in the case of terracotta tiles, this can also depend on when they were manufactured, with more modern tiles generally being stronger but at the same time less salt resistant. It is the underside of roof tiles where the effects of salt deterioration are largely seen, with holes being formed which can then let in water.
Concrete is affected by salt deterioration when the reinforcing steel frame inside a structure begins to rust, a process often accelerated in environments with salt in the air. Known as spalling, cracks that are then formed below the surface mean that fragments of the surface concrete begin to fall off. This is particularly relevant to apartment block and other multi-storey structures that have balconies or other exterior additions made from concrete.
Wooden structures on seaside properties, such as car ports, verandahs and pergolas, can suffer from what is known as delignification. Producing a fuzzy layer of salt crystals on the surface, this is the result of saltwater penetrating the wood which then breaks down the lignin (part of the cell wall) so that the salt gradually begins to eat away at it. This can lead to a weakening of the structure as the solidity of the wood begins to deteriorate from within. Not only harmful to structural integrity, delignification can also affect the appearance of wooden structures through the layer of salt crystals that develops on the surface.
Adelaide Renovations and Extensions by the Beach
Builders At Your Service have over thirty years experience as home extension builders across Adelaide beachside suburbs like Glenelg, Semaphore, West Lakes, Seaton and Largs Bay. This means we understand that there are special requirements in undertaking a renovation or adding an extension at properties located by the beach, and so all of our work is carried out using building materials and techniques that can mitigate the worst effects of salt deterioration.
We are also experienced at working on properties of all vintages, so whether you want to modernise an Adelaide sandstone cottage, renovate a brick 1960s or 1970s beachside house, or you want to add an extension or an upper storey to a more contemporary home, our knowledge and expertise means that we understand what is required to meet your building needs. Contact Builders At Your Service to find out more about renovating or extending your Adelaide beachside home.