Tuck pointing is a term used in the repair of masonry walls and veneers on houses – specifically referring to the mortar in the masonry of your house. It is basically a method of removing the old mortar and replacing it with new mortar. So why would you want, or need, to repair the mortar in the masonry?
For starters, brick veneer cracks create unsightly appearances in the exterior wall of your house and is the most common purpose of tuck pointing. Who wants family and friends looking at cracks in the brick of their house? No one! It is important to know that the cracks in the brick do not necessarily mean the brick is going to fall off your house. It won’t because brick ties hold the brick veneer onto the house wall. You should question the cause of the brick cracks and research other articles in HOUSETIPS to understand why the brick cracks may occur. Secondly, brick cracks can allow water intrusion and insect passages through the brick veneer.
On true masonry walls, such as concrete block walls, tuck pointing cracks in the wall may help restore structural integrity and mitigate water intrusion through the wall. On brick masonry piers of raised foundations, tuck pointing old mortar between the brick actually restores structural integrity of the pier, and consequently, the foundation of the house.
The tuck pointing process is relatively simple but can be a bit sloppy. Some artistic ability in placing the material and cleaning the mortar mix is helpful for a clean, good-looking finish.
The Tuck Pointing Process
Removal of the broken and/or cracked mortar between the bricks is important to prepare the joint to receive the new mortar. The first step in the process is usually accomplished with the use of a hand grinder or hammer and chisel. The broken mortar is removed creating a cavity between the bricks, which only needs to be about ¾” deep. After the cavity is cleaned, mortar is installed either with small hand tools pushing the mortar into the cavity or with the use of a masonry grout bag. Think of a masonry grout bag as an icing bag used by bakeries to place icing on cakes.
Once the mortar has been installed, small hand tools are used to press or compact the mortar into the cavity between the bricks and “shape” the outer edge the mortar. It is the outer edge of the mortar where your artistic talents are needed! As the mortar hardens, it can be molded or shaped for appearance providing the finished look in the brick veneer you desire. As the mortar begins to set and harden, washing and/or rubbing of the brick veneer is required to remove spilled mortar from the exterior face of the brick. Again, the process is not difficult but may be considered time consuming in revitalizing the brick veneer on your house.
If the tuck-pointing process in needed or wanted at your house, competent brick masons are your best source for accomplishing the task. Check with your local home building association or local contractor board for references.