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A Brief Guide to Tuck-pointing

Posted on March 14, 2016 by Bill Skubik in Maintenance, Things to Consider

A Brief Guide to Tuck-pointing

When you see an older piece of brickwork with fresh looking joints, odds are you’re looking at successful tuck-pointing. A method developed across the pond in England, tuck-pointing is, according to Wikipedia, “a way of using two contrasting colors of mortar in the mortar joints of brickwork, one color matching the bricks themselves, to give an artificial impression that very fine joints have been made.” In other words, it’s the method of refurbishing old joints in masonry.

When is Tuck-pointing necessary?

If your masonry suffers from crumbling joints, you’re at risk for some serious problems. From water seepage to beehives, old mortar is no good. One way of knowing your church is in need of tuck-pointing is if you’re experiencing the issues mentioned above, or notice loose bricks – if you see cracks in your bricks, that’s a different issue that requires a different solution.

How labor intensive is tuck-pointing?

So your bricks are loose, and the nest of bees has overstayed their welcome, what now? Thankfully, tuck-pointing isn’t expensive if you use the proper tools. The real investment comes in the form of your time, since, depending on the size of the structure, it can get quite tedious. For this reason, many people choose to work on their tuck-pointing projects one section at a time; it doesn’t have to be finished in one session. As your project progresses, you’ll start to get the hang of it and become more efficient.

Tools of the tuck-pointing trade

Once you’ve determined your masonry requires tuck-pointing, it’s important to assemble the right tools. You’re going to want to make sure you pay close attention to specifics. For example, concave and flat joints require different tools (a masonry jointer for concave and a joint raker for flat).

Tools:

• Safety glasses (it’s a dusty job)
• rubber gloves
• hearing protection
• bucket
• hammer drill
• dust mask (make sure all the windows in the home, building, or church you are working on are closed before you start tuck-pointing)
• cold chisel
• masonry jointer or joint racker
• brick trowel
• bristle (make sure it’s a stiff one)
• a broom for cleanup

Don’t forget the mortar

When you’re shopping for tuck-pointing tools at your local hardware store, don’t forget to pick up a bag of mortar – once the dust settles, you’re going to want to replace the old, crumbling mortar with something new. Accurate color matching is a sign of competent tuck-pointing, which is why you should bring a piece of the old mortar along with you to the hardware store so you pick the right mix. What to expect As we mentioned, the job of tuck-pointing old masonry joints can be loud, dusty, and time-consuming, but it’s relatively inexpensive. Once you have the proper tools and know-how, you’ll be able to save time on future projects. According to the Masonry Advisory Council’s official website, “The longevity of mortar joints will vary with the exposure conditions and the mortar materials used, but a lifespan of more than 25 years is typical.”

If you’re in the business of purchasing or renovating old structures, mastering the method of tuck-pointing is essential. For a great step-by-step guide, check out Family Handyman’s “Masonry: How to Repair Mortar Joints.”


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