It is good to note that repointing and tuckpointing are not the same thing but unfortunately are used interchangeably sometimes. Repointing is the process that involves removing damaged mortar joints and renewing them. Tuckpointing is actually a style that uses two different colors of mortar to renew the joints, and it is not always used for damage control. They both can also be lumped under the term brick masonry. Whenever you hire a mason to do tuckpointing or repointing, make sure they are able to explain you the difference! At Davis Masonry, we make sure to spell everything out for our clients as clearly as possible in order to avoid confusion.
Tuckpointing repairs the worn out mortar between the bricks of your house. It is the restoration aspect of the masonry trade. Beware!! Not every masonry company is specialized in tuckpointing so you need to make sure you hire someone (like Davis Masonry) who is an expert so you get the best results! Some of the reasons you will need tuckpointing will be when you have recess joints. These areas where the mortar is crumbling or turning into dust and the joints are recessed. This may not be a structural issue yet however, you are going to want to fill those as preventative maintenance so you do not have water sitting in the recesses. The other things you want to note are stress cracks. These are very common above windows, below windows, and above doors. They look like steps going up the wall. Normally, these stress cracks go through the mortar but occasionally it does go through the brick. In this case, you will have to get the bricks removed and replaced.
The main steps of tuckpointing are first, the joint is removed, this is the line of mortar between the bricks. It is removed with either a grinder, saw, or hammer and chisel. We remove roughly an inch of the joint. Then a tuckpointing bag, similar to an icing bag that bakers would use on a cake, is used to fill the mortar joint. The next thing to do is wait for the mortar to set. The wait time varies depending on what type of brick it is such as clay or concrete, it also depends on the weather and how much water the bricks have absorbed over the years. In order to shape the joint, a finishing tool is used. Most joints get a concave finish but other common finishes are V shape or flushed joint. Finally, the bricks are brushed off with a masons brush. One of the trickiest parts of tuckpointing is matching the color of the new mortar to the color of the original mortar on the house. Within a couple of weeks, you should be able to see the final mortar color and it should not stand out from the color of the rest of the wall. Before hiring any masonry company for tuckpointing, you should ask to see their portfolio to see if their ability to color match is as good as they say it is. You can also ask the company if they have done any houses or properties close by that you can go look at. The majority of the cost of tuckpointing is directly related to the skill of the mason and the labor involved because the material costs itself is actually relatively low. Pricing is not based off of square footage because there could actually be a lot wrong with a small section of the wall. The main factor in determining price is access. For example, if we have to put up scaffolding on a three-story house to access a small patch on the chimney, it will cost more than a bigger patch on the ground level.