Salt Damp, Salt Attack & Rising Damp

One of our most requested services is repairing salt damaged walls and bathrooms. Salt attack and rising damp is an issue that is becoming more common as buildings get older and the soil becomes more saline. First, let’s clarify the terms.

Salt attack and rising damp are separate but interconnected processes. Rising damp is often used to cover both of them, but it is not an ideal term to use as it doesn’t stress the role of salt. The term salt damp is more appropriate as it emphasises the role of high salt concentrations associated with rising damp affecting buildings in South Australia and across the country.


In simple terms, salt damp occurs when a stone or concrete surface is regularly exposed to water (usually from rising damp) that contains salt. The water will likely evaporate but the salt crystallises and is left inside the porous masonry walls. As more salt gets left behind, the surface (stone, brick and mortar) is forced to expand eventually leading to major damage. Signs of a salt attack include:

  • Cracking, crumbling, and chipping
  • Cavities
  • An ‘exfoliated’ appearance


Treating salt damp isn’t simply a matter introducing a damp-proof course. Especially in heritage buildings, the approach to salt damp should be aimed at retaining the original materials. These seven steps identified by the South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage are considered best practice when dealing with salt damp.

  • Accurate diagnosis of the cause
  • Good housekeeping is fundamental
  • Treat mild damp sacrificially
  • Remove excessive salts
  • Review results before proceeding
  • Inserting damp-proof courses
  • Desalinating walls

For more information refer to the salt attack and rising damp technical guide.


J&W Brick & Stone is a leading salt damp specialist in Adelaide. We will come out to your salt damaged property and conduct a thorough assessment before advising on a treatment program. Our priority is always maintaining the integrity of the building and its heritage features. Contact us today.