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Everything You Need to Know About Tuckpointing

Bricks are a durable cladding material for exterior and interior walls, chimneys, fireplaces, and other areas. However, the mortar used to fill in joints can deteriorate over time, even though bricks themselves are still in great shape. This is where tuckpointing comes in.

The purpose of tuckpointing is to improve the appearance of masonry. It involves removing some of the mortar that has become damaged, filling the joints using new mortar that matches the brick’s color, and then applying a thin line with putty in a contrast color along the middle of the joint. A well-maintained appearance gives the impression of narrow joints. The joints of Chicago brick houses remain thin after tuckpointing. You can easily hire a tuckpointing contractor.

Do you want to protect your bricks from mortar decay and give them a fresh look? Continue reading to find out everything you need about tuckpointing and how to properly install it. It helps to understand the process of tuckpointing by learning the following terms from masonry:

  • Pointing: Filling mortar joints in new construction. A pointing joint or mortar joint is the joint between bricks on a finished wall.
  • Repointingis the process of removing mortar from joints and putting in new mortar.
  • Tuckpointing is the process of removing mortar from joints and replacing it with mortar that matches the bricks’ color.

Although the terms “tuckpointing”, “repointing” and are often used interchangeably, the end products are quite different. Repointing involves replacing the mortar that is deteriorating with new mortar. However, repointing doesn’t require the addition of contrasting lines at the center of the joints.

Because it creates a clearer visual illusion, some homeowners prefer tuckpointing and hire Chicago tuckpointing contractor. Because the mortar matches the bricks’ colors, it’s hard to see where bricks begin and end. Further, the fillets fool the eye into believing that the perfectly straight lines are actually mortar joints. This makes the whole wall appear like it was built with new masonry.

Repointing, on the other hand, results in a softened and wavey appearance at the mortar joints. Repointing mortar will highlight any irregularities in the edges of bricks.

If mortar Fails

It is important to understand the reasons mortar joints fail before you can repair them. There are many reasons why mortar joints can deteriorate, such as poor workmanship, extreme temperature and moisture erosion, and pressure due to the bricks’ weight. Bricks can last for a century but mortar has a 25-30 year lifespan. This means that mortar will need to be replaced or repointed more than once in the lifetime of a brick building.

Cracks can develop in mortar joints which are the weakest part of brick walls. A few small cracks are not indicative of a need to repoint. However, tuckpointing contractor in Chicago should fix any mortar that is beginning to fall out of cracks before it affects the structure.

7 Steps of The Tuckpointing Process

Here are the steps to tuckpointing, regardless of whether you hire someone professional or get your hands dirty.

Step 1: First, you need to remove mortar joints that are more than one inch deep. For the removal of mortar joints, Masons often use an angle grinder. This is messy work that requires a respirator mask. You can also use the traditional, yet still effective, hammer and/or chisel method, although this is slower.

Step 2: Use a masonry brush to remove any debris and mortar joints.

Step 3: The mortar should be mixed to match the brick color. It involves mixing mortar pigment with the new mortar. This can be tricky and requires some experimentation. To blend the next batch of the same color, make sure you record the exact proportion of mortar to pigment.

Step 4: Use the horizontal joints to fill the joints with mortar. You can observe a mason at work before you attempt the job. They use tricks of the trade to avoid mortar getting all over bricks.

Step 5: Apply the wet mortar to joints and smooth it out to form a flat surface.

Step 6: Use a straightedge or a tuckpointing instrument to make straight lines in the center of newly filled joints. As much as possible, make sure the lines are straight.

Step 7: Apply lime putty carefully to the lines scraped to create contrasting fillets. Then, remove any excess. This task is typically performed by a mason using a straightedge and small knives. The result is uniform contrast lines at the center of the larger mortar joints.

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