Tuckpointing is a trade many people are unfamiliar with until they need it done on their house.
It involves repairing the worn out mortar between the bricks of your house and it is the restoration aspect of the masonry trade. Not every masonry company is specialized in tuckpointing, so you need to make sure you hire someone who is an expert at it in order to get the best results.
Joe Hill from A&A Masonry is a tuckpointing expert, and his speciality is colour matching, a key indicator of whether or not tuckpointing has been done right. In our latest video he shows us the tell-tale signs you need tuckpointing done and walks us through the steps of the process.
Some signs you need tuckpointing:
- Deeply recessed mortar joints, meaning 8 to 10 mm past the surface of the bricks
- Stress cracks are incredibly common — usually above doors and above and below windows
- Deeps holes, in the mortar
Not getting tuckpointing done on them can lead to:
- Water entering your home
- Insects getting inside the house
- Wasps building nests between the layers of the bricks
- The face of the brick can pop right off
- Water sits in the cracks of the bricks and will rot them, this could lead to needing the bricks replaced, which is a lot more costly down the road
1. First the joint is removed. This is the line of mortar between the bricks, it is removed either with a grinder, saw or hammer and chisel.
2. Then a tuckpointing bag (similar to an icing bag you’d use on a cake) is used to fill in the mortar joint.
3. You must then wait for the mortar to set, how long it takes depends on the weather, and how much water the bricks have absorbed over the years. Stone absorbs zero water and takes a lot longer to dry. Clay bricks absorb the moisture quicker unless they’ve been saturated with water for years, which means the setting process could take longer.
4. A finishing tool is then used to shape the joint. Most joints get a concave finish. Other common finishes are v-shaped or flush with the brick.
5. Finally, the bricks are brushed off with a mason’s brush.
The trickiest part of tuckpointing is matching the colour of the new mortar to the original mortar on the rest of the house. Many factors determine the colour: how deep the mortar is in the wall, how hot it is outside, how long it takes the colour to set (it tends to lighten up). Within a couple weeks you can see the final colour of the mortar and when tuckpointing is done properly it shouldn’t stand out from the rest of the wall. Ask to see the contractor’s portfolio in order to determine his ability to colour match and ask to see houses they’ve done in the neighbourhood – this will be the best indicator of the mason’s skill.
- Get multiple quotes and don’t go with the lowest one
- 90% of what you are paying for is the skill of the mason as the material cost itself is low
- The main factor in determining price is access, if you have to put up scaffolding on a three-storey house to get to a small patch on the chimney, it’s going to cost more than a bigger patch on ground level
- The cost doesn’t go by square footage because a lot can be wrong with one small area of a wall