Brickwork pointing is the process of sealing the joints between bricks to protect them from weathering and deterioration. Repointing, on the other hand, is the process of removing existing mortar or loose mortar that may be damaged and using a new replacement mortar mix to re-point and reseal bricks.
Both brickwork and repointing are important services for maintaining the structural integrity of brick buildings and preventing water damage.
Brick pointing and repointing are especially important for older buildings where original mortar and existing pointing are starting to decay.
Typically, good-quality bricks and stone can last decades, and some buildings can stand for hundreds of years. The weakness in buildings often comes from the damaged mortar which becomes weak over time and causes buildings to deteriorate and become unsafe, which is why they need repointing to maintain structural integrity between bricks.
This is why sealing the joints between bricks is the best way to prevent things like water damage and weathering, especially for old buildings. Old mortar can form small cracks over time which allows heavy rain to trap moisture between bricks and cause damage over time.
As pointing and repointing services are a time-consuming task, it’s important to hire a professional brickwork contractor like RR Limited, who can provide high-quality workmanship to bricks and stones of any kind. The other benefit to hiring a professional brickwork contractor is that they offer a range of other brickwork services, such as brick wall construction and repairs which may be of use during pointing services.
What are mortar joints?
When repointing mortar, a ‘mortar joint’ is the space between damaged bricks, stones or glass blocks, that are filled with new mortar or grout. There are lots of different styles of mortar and there are lots of different ways of pointing brickwork. New mortar joints can take on different styles such as:
The above styles are just a few that are commonly applied to brick faces, and there are even more mortar joints that can be applied to stone buildings during stonework or structural alterations.
The benefits of proper brickwork pointing
The goal of brickwork pointing is to remove old mortar and prevent further damage to buildings where old pointing is starting to become damaged. If a building receives regular maintenance, then any damage to mortar would be spotted before irreparable damage is caused.
Are there different types of mortar?
There are different types of mortar that can be used for brickwork pointing and repointing, including lime-based mortars, cement-based mortars, and plastic mortars. It’s important to choose the right type of mortar for the job to ensure a lasting repair.
Traditional lime mortar (sometimes known as lime putty) is made from a mixture of lime, sand, and water. It’s a softer mortar that’s typically used for old houses and buildings because it allows the bricks to breathe. Older mortar mixes like lime mortars are prone to damage over time as a result of harsh weather that can trap moisture within a wall.
Lime mortar is usually a cheaper option if you need to cover a large surface area, as more can be mixed and used for less.
Cement-based mortar is a stronger type of mortar that’s made from a mixture of cement, sand, and water. It’s often used for newer buildings and is a very hard mortar which is less prone to damage from harsh weather conditions.
Hydraulic Lime Mortar
This type of lime mortar is made from impure limestone and sets through a process called hydrolysis, which is a reaction caused by water. This type of mortar provides a faster initial set and much greater compressive strength when compared to traditional or non-hydraulic lime. Fascinatingly, it’s possible for this type of mortar to set in more extreme conditions including underwater.
What is mortar mix made of?
Most types of mixing mortar are made from a combination of water, cement and sand. The ratios are often different depending on the type of mortar being mixed. For example, a 1:3 cement to the sand mix is often used for bricklaying. This means that for every 1 part cement, there are 3 parts sand.
A 1:6 ratio is sometimes used for a soft stone or where a weaker mix is required such as when working with lime mortar or speciality brick. The location of mortar mix can also play a part in how it is mixed, as in areas with harsh weather conditions probably require a tougher cement or mortar for a building.
How to tell if your brickwork needs repointing
There are a few different ways to check whether or not brickwork needs repointing. For example, signs such as crumbling plaster, white deposits on walls, clear penetrating damp on the inside of your home, rising damp levels in the house or even strange water shifts across the property are all indications that your property might require repointing brickwork.
Some signs might not seem as bad as others, or might not really seem like a problem at all initially. Penetrating damp can cause rising damp levels inside the property which can quickly become problematic for the property structure, as well as potentially begin to cause health issues within the property.
If you start to see any of the above signs, it might be time to consider repointing your brickwork.
What colour can pointing mortar be?
A mortar joint doesn’t just need to take on the colour of cement. When repointing brickwork, a variety of types can be used such as portland cement to match brick faces or traditional cement mortar for traditional stone. Depending on where mortar is used, it might be a design requirement for the colour to be a good match, such as around a fireplace, specially designed brick wall or other bricked areas.
The good news is that there are two basic ways that the colour of mortar can be changed; applying a muriatic acid to the surface of the brick or re-applying a new cement mortar to the brickwork. Using different types of sand can make a very apparent difference to the colour of the mortar.
How long does brick repointing take?
Trying to repair or repoint brickwork yourself can be a big job and take a lot of time. It’s often better to get a professional in to do the work for you so that it’s done properly and to avoid any further damage to your property.
The time it takes to repoint brickwork will depend on the size of the property or the wall that is being repaired. Generally, the process involves firstly evaluating and inspecting the wall and brickwork that is going to be repointed.
Then, it’s important to remove mortar and unsuitable pointing and in some cases, replace damaged bricks to prevent further problems.
Such work can take days to weeks and for larger projects, months.
Tips for maintaining your brickwork mortar
When treated appropriately, mortar can last for centuries. However, without proper maintenance, the life expectancy of brickwork plummets.
There are a few things that can be done to make sure that your brickwork lasts as long as possible:
- Check regularly for cracks or damaged areas and get them repaired as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
- Make sure that any new pointing is the same mix as the existing mortar so that it adheres properly and doesn’t cause any issues.
- If you’re repointing yourself, use a good quality cement and sand mix as well as take the time to clean off any old mortar before the area before applying new mortar to help it adhere better.
- Be sure to use a plasticiser in the mix which will help to avoid any cracks forming in the future.
- Avoid using too much water when mixing the mortar as this can make it weaker and more susceptible to damage.
- Wet the area before applying new mortar to help it adhere better.
What tools are used for brick repointing?
There is a range of tools that are used in brick repointing, such as
- Power tools
- Hammer and chisel
- Mortar rake
- Wire brush
How to find a qualified contractor for your brickwork pointing and repointing needs
If you are looking for qualified contractors for your brickwork, contact RR Contracting Limited, a professional company with years of experience in the building and brickwork industry. We offer a comprehensive range of services to help you maintain your property, both internally and externally for domestic and commercial customers.