Brickwork: Tuck Pointing Brick Walls and Chimneys
Brick is one of the strongest and most durable types of material used to side homes and build chimneys, but contrary to popular belief, brickwork is not entirely maintenance free. The mortar that holds bricks together eventually wears away after many years of inclement weather. Tuck pointing is a way to restore the mortar that holds the bricks in place, and it is a necessary job that does not always have to be completed by a professional. Completing the job without professional assistance can save homeowners hundreds of dollars while keeping the brickwork
Mortar is caustic, and protective attire and eye protection should be worn before tuck pointing. If mortar comes in contact with the skin, the area should be washed immediately. In addition, do not attempt tuck pointing a brick chimney that is damaged. Tuck pointing is not complicated, however, tuck pointing is time consuming, and the job must be evaluated before beginning. Tuck pointing or repairing brickwork that is extremely high or severely damaged should be left to the professionals, but simple tuck pointing can be completed with the following easy steps.
For basic tuck pointing you will need a metal paint scraper, a cold chisel, a hammer, a wire brush, and a tuck pointing trowel. A tuck pointing trowel has a longer narrower blade than a typical trowel. You will also require dry mortar mix, a sturdy bucket, a spade for mixing the mortar, and a brick jointer that matches the shape of the joints between the bricks. Keep muriatic acid and a hose on hand in case it becomes necessary to clean excess mortar from the brick after drying. Also, the mortar joints between bricks are either concave, weathered, or in the shape of a V. A brick jointer will be required if the mortar is V-shaped or concave. A weathered joint is angled toward the top, and this can be accomplished with the blade of the tuck pointing trowel. Examine the existing brickwork to determine whether a brick jointer is needed before starting the job.
When tuck pointing a brick chimney or brick wall, begin by using a metal paint scraper to remove any loose or cracked mortar from between the bricks. Next, use a cold chisel and a hammer of appropriate size to tap away loose mortar between the joints to a depth ranging between one-half of an inch to one inch, but do not damage solid areas. Go over the joints firmly with a wire brush.
The next step is to mix the dry mortar in a bucket with the recommended amount of water according to product label instructions. It should be the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. Work from bottom to top, and begin by moistening the existing mortar with water. Use the tuck pointing trowel to pack freshly mixed mortar into the joints, one section at a time, and give it a smooth surface with the side of the blade. Occasionally blend the mortar to keep the consistency moist.
While working in a small section at a time, once the mortar is beginning to set but still workable, create the shape of the joint. The brick jointer is shaped differently at each end, and a concave impression can be made with the rounded end. A V-shaped impression can be made with the square end. As previously mentioned, use the blade of the tuck pointing trowel to create the weathered affect which is mortar that slants inward at the top of the joint.
Keep the bricks clean while tuck pointing with a wire brush and water. Use caution around the newly mortared bricks. Once the mortar dries, it can be removed from the face of the bricks with a mixture of ten parts water and one-half part of muriatic acid. Follow product label instructions regarding precautions. Carefully rinse away the mortar dust with a light spray of clean water.
After tuck pointing the brickwork on a chimney or a brick home it will look far better and the brickwork will be more solid and secure. Tuck pointing is not a task that needs to be done often, but after many years it is usually necessary. Examine brickwork annually, and look for loose and damaged mortar. Take the necessary steps to remove and replace worn mortar and the brickwork surrounding a home or fireplace chimney can last a lifetime.
An accomplished writer with extensive experience in interior design, Jessica Ackerman has written hundreds of articles on wall decor and other aspects of home decorating. Visit Wall Decor and Home Accents for additional tips and creative ideas on home decorating with hanging wall vases, wall art and wall wine racks .
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