Sunday, October 29, 2006

Tuckpointing and its merits

Prior to purchasing our home, I had never heard of the term "tuckpointing" before. As we ascended the steps of this house for the first time, our realtor said, "You might need to do some tuckpointing if you bought this place..." Little did we know how ominous those words would be. Tuckpointing is grinding out old mortar between bricks to a depth of 1/2" to 3/4" and then filling in with new mortar. Because brick and mortar are basically the water seal around a brick house, it's important for preventing water damage to the interior walls. Think of it as the "penance" a brick house owner pays for not having to side or paint for 75 years. Visually it makes quite a difference too. Before:
After:
Only a professional mason should do tuckpointing because of the skill needed and labor intensity of the process. If done wrong, the joints could fail and your brick house could look like a patchwork experiment in "cheapery". Naturally, tuckpointing is one of the more expensive yet non-value adding home improvements you can do (dollar for dollar). It's not that it isn't valued so much as it's just expected that the bricks & mortar "work". You would never know how messy it can be until you live through it. As they grind out all the old mortar and sand, a thick layer of dust settles on everything in a 25 foot radius and it gets tracked everywhere. Add rain and you get a gray paste that dries into a barnacle-like cement. To a passer-by, it appears our house survived the eruption of Mt. St. Helens all over again. The other exciting thing to come from this experience is the discovery that the chimney (for a fireplace we don't use) is slightly wobbly. This is due to a 2-foot by 2-foot patch at the roofline on the house side where all the mortar has fallen out. We intend to shore that up with new mortar and strengthen the chimney overall. But really, how secure can you make a 14-foot tower of bricks in a seismic zone?

6 comments:

Seamus Lowe said...

Thank you for this information. I've just recently learned what tuckpointing was and I'm actually quite interested in it. I'm currently looking into companies that do tuckpointing in Chicago, IL and would love some advice. I've found one I'm looking into and I'm looking to find as much information about it as possible. http://www.aaa1masonry.com/services/

Taylor Reaveley said...

I too recently purchased a home and need to do some tuck pointing. I found a company to do the tuck pointing and they are coming out tomorrow. Do you know of any ways to stop tracking the dust everywhere? I do not want to track it all inside my house!

Taylor Reaveley | Tuck pointing

Taylor Reaveley said...

I too recently purchased a home and need to do some tuck pointing. I found a company to do the tuck pointing and they are coming out tomorrow. Do you know of any ways to stop tracking the dust everywhere? I do not want to track it all inside my house!

Taylor Reaveley | Tuck pointing

Kali said...

I would say, leave the shoes at the door and don't wear them in the house while the work is going on.

Karina Beazer said...

It was actually really interesting and useful for me to read about tuck-pointing and see the pictures that you posted. The after picture looks strikingly more attractive, and I can see how this would make a big difference to the aesthetic of any home. I have seen so many houses outside of the country that are made of brick and have problems with the mortar crumbling. I believe that only a professional can do this, and I would only trust someone with substantial experience because of the delicacy of the project. I am glad to know that this service exists.

http://www.aaa1masonry.com/services/

Zach Thalman said...

I have also noticed that tuck pointing is a way to contrast colors of the brick as well. In a way it serves two purposes, one is a color coordination, the other is to make sure that things stay together. I have a few places that I need to touch up. http://www.aaa1masonry.com/services/grinding-and-tuckpointing/