Why do you need to do brick repair? Bricks and stones last for a long time. However, the mortar used to hold them together does not. The average lifespan of mortar is about 25 years. When the mortar starts to breakdown, it is very important to replace it in order to avoid damaging the stones or bricks that it is holding and also to maintain the integrity of the structure. If you don't repair it you may have more expensive repairs down the road. Click here to learn more about when you should repoint. If you would like to have a professional do the repointing for you, contact the expert stone masons at Royal Masonry.
How To Repair Brick By Replacing The Mortar
When the mortar holding your brick or stone begins to deteriorate, it needs to be replaced. This process is called repointing. The following is a step by step guide that outlines how to repoint. Even though repointing is a relatively simple job, it still needs to be done carefully and with the right tools and materials to make sure that you don't damage your brick or compromise the integrity or look of the structure you're repairing. If you are not sure that you can do it properly, it is probably best to contact a professional to do it for you.
The following video give you a great overview of the repointing steps. Read on for more detailed instructions.
Step 1: Choose the Correct Mortar
If your brick is less than 50 years old, you can use modern portland cement-based mortar according to ThisOldHouse.com. If your brick is older, you should try to match the mortar mix originally used. A restoration mason can analyze the type of mortar that was used and can make a similar mixture for you to use.
Step 2: Scrape Out The Horizontal Joints (Bed Joints)
- For 1/2 inch joints scrape to a depth of at least 3/4 inch using carbide-tipped grout saw.
- For joints wider that 1/2 inch scrape to a depth 2 1/2 times the joint's width using a cold chisel and an engineer's hammer.
Step 3: Dig Out The Vertical Joints (Head Joints)
You can start to dig out the vertical joints by carefully tapping a 5-in-1 painter's tool with a hammer once you have scraped out 3 or 4 of the bed joints. Be sure to avoid hitting the edges of the bricks above and below.
Step 4: Clean The Bricks
Using a stiff brush, clear away any leftover mortar debris. Thoroughly dampen the bricks with a mist of water until they begin to drip. According to ThisOldHouse.com, this is a vital step because any leftover, dry material will take the moisture out of the new mortar and stop it from curing properly. You need to wait to fill the joints the next day.
Step 5: Mix the Mortar
The following video will help you to see the correct consistency of the mortar and also shows you how to fill the joints. Read below for more detailed instructions.
Apply more mist to the brick. Follow the mixing directions on your bag of mortar. You will want to add enough water to get you mortar to resemble the thickness of peanut butter. It should also cling to your trowel without falling off. Let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes. A thin layer of water should form on the top. At this point, stir the water back in. You should be able to use the mortar now for about 8 hours. If it gets a bit too dry you can add in a bit more water.
Step 6: Fill The Joints
Place a small amount of mortar on a brick trowel and hold it level with one of the horizontal joints. Using a tuck-pointing trowel, push the mortar into the open joint to the back. Make a few slicing passes with the trowels edge to make sure there are no spaces. Continue adding more mortar until the joint is filled. Once you have filled a few horizontal joints, go back and fill the corresponding vertical joints.
Step 7: Smooth and Scrape
Using the trowel's flat face, smooth and compact all of the mortar. Scrape off all of the excess mortar on the bricks.
Step 8: Brush the Bricks
Once the mortar is firm, make diagonal brush strokes across the surface of the brick to remove any dry mortar.
Step 9: Sponge The Mortar
Using a sponge, carefully wipe the excess mortar of the faces of the brick. The video below demonstrates the finishing and cleaning techniques we have just describe.
Step 10: Protect The New Mortar
Cover the new mortar with a tarp to protect it from the elements such as sunlight, wind and heavy rain for three day. Also give it a daily misting of water to keep the brick and mortar moist.
Want To Hire A Professional Stone Mason?
In the Kitchener/Waterloo area there are many homes, 25 years or older, that may be starting to show signs that they need some brick repair done. It's nice to learn new skills and try things yourself, but there are times when you really want to have a professional do the job for you. The expert stonemasons at Royal Masonry are highly trained and have years of experience repairing and installing any kind of brick or stone structure. If you want it done right, contact Royal Masonry today.