Episode 4 – Definition of Efflorescence

Definition of Efflorescence

What is efflorescence? Efflorescence occurs when salt migrates to the surface of a porous material like concrete, brick, stone or stucco and forms a coating on the exterior of the material. Salt that is dissolved in water or another liquid solution will move to the porous surface. When the water or liquid solution evaporates, a coating of salt is left behind. The salt sometimes travels through the masonry or other construction material and, occasionally, it’s already in the material and the water penetrates and moves it to the surface. This crystalline deposit of salts, known as efflorescence, may appear white or have a grayish tint and often has a sparkle to it.

The word efflorescence means “to flower out” in French and, in the cases displayed below, it’s salt flowering out of the surfaces of the porous building material. These are samples of primary efflorescence, which causes staining:

Image efflorescence on brick exterior wall that left a stain. efflorescence example in bricks, efflorescence meaning, efflorescence definition
Above, primary efflorescence has left stains on the surface of a brick exterior wall.
Image of  efflorescence on concrete exterior wall. efflorescence meaning in concrete, efflorescence examples and meaning, efflorescence definition
A concrete exterior wall is coated with a crystalline deposit of salts known as primary efflorescence.


Sub-efflorescence, also known as spalling, is much more expensive to fix and an issue that we covered in our guide to spalling.

When it comes to primary efflorescence, cleaning of the surface removes the crystalline salt deposits but is often temporary and doesn’t necessarily prevent future recurrence.

Alternatively, using a facade system like Ceramitex is a way of avoiding the issue of efflorescence altogether. The sintered ceramic used in these large-format, lightweight facade panels isn’t porous like many masonry materials and repels water from the surface. The extreme heat and pressure used in the process of sintering means that moisture is unable to penetrate the facade’s surface.

Code-compliant across North America, Ceramitex sintered ceramic cladding is ultra-strong and climate defiant, meaning the exterior wall panels are resistant to expansion and contraction in high temperature or freezing conditions, don’t deteriorate due to sun exposure, and are scratch, impact and graffiti resistant. The waterproof panels combined with a patented pressure-equalized rainscreen system provide the ultimate weather barrier.

In addition to extreme durability, Ceramitex is easy to install while offering limitless design possibilities thanks to Elemex’s proprietary Unity integrated attachment technology. Add in a substantial number of color and finishing options, and Ceramitex sintered ceramic panels offer lasting allure and the peace of mind that the facade system will hold up against the elements better than many masonry materials.

To find out more about Ceramitex and other Elemex architectural facade systems, visit elemex.com or contact us at info@elemex.com.

Elemex Architectural Facade Systems
530 Admiral Dr,
London, ON
N5V 0B2
+1 844-435-3639