Published on June 16th, 2013 | by Henri


Repairing mortar between bricks

Q.    I have concrete steps in the front of my house and between some of the bricks the concrete has rotted out. I believe they call this pointing. My house is also brick and the same thing is happening in spots.

I would like to attempt to fix both of these things myself. Is it easy for an inexperienced  person and if not, what exactly do I need to do the job and what is the specific process?

A.    If I understand you correctly, you have bricks steps and the mortar between the bricks is deteriorating. The same is happening between the bricks of your house. (Concrete is a mix of Portland cement, sand and crushed aggregate and is used for concrete foundations, slabs, driveways, roads, buildings, etc.)

Tuck-pointing is what needs to be done, but since you are inexperienced, it is best for you to have a mason or handy person familiar with tuck-pointing do the job, particularly if the mortar crumbling is extensive.

Tuck-pointing requires the removal of all loose mortar, but with care so as not to cause serious damage. Once the loose mortar is removed, the joints need to be washed clean with a garden hose. Next is mixing the right mortar consistent with the age of the bricks (old mortar is different from newer mortar) and getting the right color so the repairs won’t stand out like a sore thumb.

As you can see, an amateur job may really detract from the overall look of the house. However, if you decide to make the repairs yourself, get a bag of ready-mix mortar from hardware or building supply stores, mix it following directions on the bag. Apply it to the cleaned joints with a small trowel and strike the joints with a joint tool or a short piece of garden hose.

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