Keeping Your Brickwork Safe with Tuck-pointing

St. Louis is overflowing with beautiful brick homes.  The wonderful thing about a brick home is that there is practically no maintenance required.

brick-houseBricks, stones, and blocks can last over a 100 years. The only flaw in its durability are the mortar joints, which can take a beating during a Missouri winter. Repairing the joints involves an easy process known as tuck-pointing, but requires the skill of a home repair expert to do it safely and correctly.

What Is Tuck-Pointing?

To put it simply, tuck-pointing is reinforcing the mortar joints in brickwork. The existing mortar needs to be removed by either grinding it or raking it out. This can only be done to a certain depth to avoid damage to the structure. This is a labor intensive job that requires a lot of skill and patience to be done properly.

Applying the Key Test

In order to determine if your home is a candidate, apply the key test. A key should not be able to scratch good and sturdy mortar. If running yours over the joint brings up any powdered material, then it is time to call in a professional to take a look. Cracks or pieces crumbling out is also a very good indicator that a repair is imminent. If you see chunks of mortar missing from your brickwork, a professional remodeling company should be called immediately.

When a Small Problem Becomes a Large Problem

Do not wait to call in a professional. If the mortar deteriorates past a certain point, the entire brick wall can be compromised. Rain and snow will drive moisture behind the bricks causing them to start to come loose. If it gets to that point, tuck-pointing could be fruitless since you will in essence be covering up the moisture and allowing it to continue to do its damage from the inside out.

Once you notice that the bricks or stones have started to loosen, it is too late. The only solution at that point is to tear it down and start from scratch. That is why it is important to check the mortar joints closely every few months, especially after a harsh wet season, to ensure that you can remedy the small problem before it becomes a large costly one.

Not a DIY Project

Is tuck-pointing a do it yourself job? No. It may sound easy at first, but requires skill to make sure that no damage is done to the brickwork. The grinder can discolor the bricks if you hit them. Scraping out too much mortar can also compromise the integrity of the wall itself. Plus, without prior experience you could actually knock a brick out of place. Mixing the mortar itself is also dangerous. The dust created is harmful to the lungs and skin if there is direct contact.

The best way to keep the beautiful brickwork of your home free from damage is to do periodic inspections and call in AAA Remodeling Company at (636) 349-5777 if you notice that the mortar has begun to deteriorate. If you haven’t done so in a long time, make sure an inspection is first on your to-do list as soon as the snow thaws.

Photo credit:  pasa 47

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