According to Atek Masonry, a new brick build project should last around 30 - 40 years. After that, tuckpointing will be required every 25 years or so depending on the climate conditions. Here in the Midwest, the weather is unpredictable with periods of extreme moisture followed by the occasional heat wave, which is brutal on masonry projects, requiring upkeep and maintenance regularly. It's a good idea to keep an eye on your brick and stone projects, and if you're in doubt as to their status, have a mason come out and look them over. Better safe than sorry. And again, a complete demo and rebuilt is much more expensive than a check up and tuckpoint job.
As we've stated earlier, it is important to use an experienced mason for repairs, including tuckpointing. If your mason uses a mortar that is stronger than the brick it's placed in, the brick won't be able to expand with the seasons and it can damage the brick. It can also affect the escape (or lack of it) of water, forcing it to travel through the brick itself, potentially damaging it beyond repair.
The Spruce recommends that if your mason isn't sure about the proper mix for the mortar that they contact a mortar supply company for a consultation in order to get the mix percentage and strength perfect. It is crucial that they tuckpoint correctly the first time as it is exponentially more expensive for a mason to do an entire demolition and rebuild than to just do things correctly on the first visit.
When it comes to the actual process of tuckpointing, there are only a few steps but they need to be done with precision in order to ensure that the tuckpointing lasts.
A.) The old mortar needs to be grounded or routed until a uniform depth is reached. Tim Stannard recommends 15 - 20 mms to ensure they're clean and square.
B.) Within your new gaps, apply your red mortar to restrengthen your bricks.
C.) In your red mortar, cut thin strips down the middle to form grooves for your putty.
D.) Apply your colored putty / mortar to match your design aesthetic. There are multiple colors for mortar.
E.) Once the mortar is set (in 3-4 days) gently wash the bricks to make your structure look clean and sharp.
Enjoy this video as an example of a mason tuckpointing a wall:
Plain and simple, old brick structures are beautiful. They have an elegance to them that is hard to match with modern material and design. But while brick exudes a classic beauty and durability, the mortar does not. According to Northeastern Chimney, while a sturdy brick can last a hundred years, mortar usually begins weakening and crumbling around the 25 year mark. Tuckpointing doesn't replace the brick (unless of course it's damaged), it just freshens up the mortar. But more than just a simple face lift, it restrengthens the entire structure.
Most masons feel that the best time to get those projects tuckpointed is right before, or right after the winter season. The folks over at Turn Bull Masonry think that the fall is an excellent time as the weather starts to cool off, making it easier on the mortar. Also, as a necessity if it's a chimney, the fall season gets the project in tip top shape for the cold winter.
Post-winter early spring is also a good time to get your projects tuckpointed before the heavy rains hit. Getting it finished before the wet season makes sure that the water doesn't get inside the mortar and bricks and causes more damage.
But, of course, any time there is serious structural damage, get a mason out immediately to investigate and bid no matter the season. If they can repair your structure, it'll save you a rebuild which will save you money in the long run.
Photo Credit to Delta Tuckpointing
Finding a good mason can be difficult, but once you establish one as your favorite, he or she will become your go-to mason for life for all of your masonry projects because you'll be able to trust that their pricing is fair and their work is perfect. We recommend two ways to find your new favorite mason:
a.) Word of Mouth - ask your friends this series of questions to see who they used and why they trust them. What made them great? Were they professional? Will you use them again?
b.) Check their website - these days it is easier than ever to build a website for services. We believe that a mason that truly cares about their craft will have a decent website set up to show off their work and make themselves available to customers. Some things to consider with their website: does it have pictures of their work? Does it have contact info easily available? Does it have a scope of services and specialties? If the answer is yes, give them a call and chat about your project. It costs nothing to talk about an estimated bid, when you should build your project, and what kind of future maintenance would go into it. Building this trusted relationship is important when it comes to finding a preferred mason that will be more than happy to continually upgrade your home or business over decades.
The folks over atFamilyHandyMan warn that tuckpointing can be a dirty business full of dust and debris. All the grinding out of the joints can create quite the mess, so spread a drop cloth beforehand if you have one and you can cut serious time off of cleaning the chunks of old mortar that fall from the brick joints. Also, you'll want to close the windows to your home (and tell your neighbors to do the same if you like them) to prevent the dust from floating indoors. And finally, you may want to wear facial protection to prevent the dust from irritating your eyes and mouth.
Angle Grinder - The angle grinder is used to grind out the old and decaying mortar between the bricks. The grinder often has a diamond blade and can be equipped with accessories to minimize dust, debris, and mess.
Masonry Brush - The brush is often made from synthetic hair-like materials so as not to damage the brick. They are made in several different sizes and shapes for different uses, but in tuckpointing they're used to clean out the post-grinding debris.
Hawk Board - Also known as a "mortar board," is a tool for holding mortar close by while applying mortar to the brick instead of having to constantly move back to the wheelbarrow, or container that's being used to hold the mixed material. They usually have a handle connected to the bottom for easy handling and use.
Trowel - Available in many shapes and sizes and used in all types of masonry (margin trowel, brick trowel, concrete trowel).The trowel is the standard mortar applying tool across the masonry trade. The mason often scoops the mortar on to the hawk board for the pointing process.
We hope this post of the Top 10 things you should know about Tuckpointing was helpful. It is a masonry repair technique that is often ignored but can repair your home or business not only structurally, but also aesthetically and make it look brand new again. Also, to end this post, we cannot stress enough, always pay for quality work. If you pay for the cheapest labor it's going to cost you more in the long run as you'll need to replace / redo it sooner and it won't look as great as if you hire someone with experience and a proven record.
The cost of tuckpointing is always tricky as there are several things to consider throughout the process. But generally, cost is accumulated through three areas: labor, materials, and repairs.
A) Labor - Different contractors will always charge different rates according to their expertise (we always recommend paying for quality masonry work because going cheap but with subpar work and materials will cost you more in the long run). But other things to consider are the height of the project (will they need a ladder or scaffolding which would slow them down?), the difficulty in getting to the work space (a high chimney will cost more than a basic wall), and the tools being used (does the mason have an electric grinder as opposed to a hammer and chisel?).
B.) Materials - Will your mason be using standard Portland Cement (cheaper) or using lime or caulk? Also, are there areas that need special colors or decorations?
C.) Repairs - Does your structure need brick replacements or entire sections rebuilt? This can be quite costly and is another important reason to make sure your brick structure is well-maintained throughout its long life.
It is our recommendation that you always ask for a cost breakdown. An honest mason with experience has no problem giving you a layout of what's expected to go into the project.
And for a great guide that includes things to watch out for with the cost breakdown, check outFixr.com'sTuckpointing Cost Guide.
We here at AAA Fast Construction, the best masonry contractors in Kansas City, get a lot of inquiries as to what is tuckpointing and when should it be performed. We thought that the best way to show off our masonry knowledge is to answer these two questions in as much detail here, in an in-depth Top 10 List using masonry and construction sources that we trust. This way you can be confident in recognizing the signs of wear and tear in your structure and contact a qualified mason immediately to repair your project without damaging it.
Reading this quick guide will not only give you information on the process of tuckpointing, but will also help you know what to expect so you don't get overcharged by dishonest masons. They do exist.
Let's dive in.
Angie's List describes "tuckpointing" as an important mortar repair technique for your home's masonry chimney and exterior bricks that involves filling the gaps between the mortar and bricks. The process creates the illusion of joints between the bricks within your project and also improves the function of the wall by preventing moisture and other substances entering and damaging the bricks and mortar.