Two micromechanical models are developed to simulate the expansion of cementitious composites exposed to external sulphate attack. The difference between the two models lies in the form of chemical reaction of the ettringite formation (through-solution vs. topochemical). In both models the Fick's second law with reaction term is assumed to govern the transport of the sulphate ions. The Eshelby solution and the equivalent inclusion method are used to determine the eigenstrain of the expanding ettringite crystals in microcracked hardened cement paste. The degradation of transport properties is studied in the effective medium and the percolation regime. An initial-boundary value problem (2D) of expansion of a mortar specimen immersed in a sodium sulphate solution is solved and compared with available test data. The obtained results indicate that the topochemical mechanism is the one capable of producing the experimentally observed amount of expansion.