Tuckpointing vs Repointing: The Ultimate Guide

Tuckpointing and repointing are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. Both processes involve adding new mortar joints to a brick structure, but each is slightly different.

Tuckpointing is a process of removing old mortar from joints, replacing it with mortar that closely matches the colour of the bricks, and then embedding narrow lines of putty in a contrasting colour between the new mortar joints. This process is mainly done for aesthetic purposes and is used to make the brickwork look more appealing.

Repointing, on the other hand, is a process of sealing mortar joints that are exposed to the elements. This process is more of a preventative and functional fix and is used to keep water out to prevent further cracking or much larger repairs from taking place. Repointing is necessary when the mortar joints are damaged, eroded, or cracked, and it helps to maintain the structural integrity of the brickwork.

Understanding Tuckpointing and Repointing

Understanding Tuckpointing and Repointing

Tuckpointing and repointing are two common terms used in the world of masonry. Both processes involve the repair of mortar joints, so let’s have a look at both of them in more detail:

Tuckpointing

Tuckpointing is a process that involves the application of two different colours of mortar to a brick wall. The first layer of mortar is applied to the brickwork, and then a second layer is applied on top of it. The second layer is usually thinner than the first layer, and it is applied in a contrasting colour. The purpose of tuckpointing is to give the appearance of a well-maintained brick wall, even if the mortar joints are damaged.

Repointing

Repointing is the process of removing damaged mortar joints and replacing them with new mortar. This process is necessary when the mortar joints have deteriorated due to weathering, age, or other factors. The damaged mortar is removed using a chisel or grinder, and then new mortar is applied to the joint. The new mortar should match the colour and texture of the existing mortar to ensure a seamless repair.

The Process

The Process of Tuckpointing

Tools Required

Tuckpointing requires a few essential tools to get the job done. These include an angle grinder equipped with a diamond blade, a trowel, a joint raker, a wire brush, and a pointing trowel. The angle grinder is used to remove the old mortar from the brickwork, while the joint raker is used to dig out any remaining mortar. The wire brush is used to clean out any loose debris from the joint, and the pointing trowel is used to apply the new mortar.

Step by Step Guide

The first step in tuckpointing is to remove the old mortar from the brickwork using an angle grinder. The mason should be careful not to damage the bricks themselves while grinding out the joints. Once the old mortar has been removed, the joint should be cleaned out with a wire brush to remove any loose debris.

Next, you’ll need to mix up a batch of lime putty and new mortar to match the colour of the existing mortar. The lime putty will help to ensure that the new mortar has a similar texture and consistency to the old mortar. The new mortar should be mixed to a consistency that is easy to work with, but not too wet.

Using a pointing trowel, you’ll need to apply the new mortar to the joint, making sure that it is packed in tightly. The joint should be filled to the same level as the surrounding brickwork. Once the joint has been filled, the mason should use a jointing tool to create a neat finish.

tuckpointing

The Process of Repointing

Identifying the Need

Repointing is the process of removing damaged mortar joints and replacing them with new mortar. It is important to identify the need for repointing to avoid further damage to the brickwork. Signs that repointing may be necessary include cracks in the mortar, loose or missing mortar, or water damage.

A professional repointing company should be consulted to assess the extent of the damage and determine whether repointing is necessary. They will use tools such as an angle grinder and a trowel to carefully remove the damaged mortar without damaging the surrounding bricks.

Professional Approach

Once the damaged mortar has been removed, the mason will prepare the area for new mortar. This involves cleaning the joints and ensuring they are free of debris. The new mortar is then mixed to match the existing mortar in colour and consistency.

The mason will then carefully fill the joints with the new mortar, using a trowel to ensure the mortar is evenly distributed. They will then use a jointing tool to create a smooth, professional finish.

It is important to note that repointing should always be carried out by a professional mason. Attempting to repoint brickwork without the proper tools and knowledge can lead to further damage and costly repairs.

Different types of pointing

Pointing is a crucial step in constructing a masonry wall, as it involves filling the gaps between masonry units with mortar. There are eight distinct types of pointing finishes available, each with a specific function and aesthetic appeal.

Flush pointing is a simple technique that creates an even surface, while tuck pointing is a decorative technique using two different coloured mortars to create the illusion of fine joints. Beaded pointing involves using a rounded tool to create a bead-like finish on the mortar.

Weathered pointing creates a sloped or angled joint to direct rainwater away from the wall, and keyed pointing uses grooves to enhance the mortar’s bonding ability. V-grooved pointing creates a V-shaped groove in the mortar, while struck pointing creates a straight line along the joint. Finally, recessed pointing creates a shadow effect and gives the wall a textured appearance by creating a recessed joint between the masonry units.

These different pointing finishes offer a range of options for builders to achieve their desired look and functionality for their masonry walls.

process of repointing

Key Differences and Similarities

Tuckpointing and repointing are two techniques used to repair and restore masonry structures. While they share some similarities, there are also key differences between the two methods.

Similarities

Both tuckpointing and repointing involve the repair of mortar joints in masonry structures. In both cases, the damaged mortar is removed and replaced with new mortar. The new mortar must match the original mortar in terms of strength, colour, and texture to ensure a seamless repair.

Differences

The main difference between tuckpointing and repointing is the purpose of the repair. Tuckpointing is primarily a cosmetic technique used to improve the appearance of a masonry structure.

Repointing, on the other hand, is a structural repair technique used to restore the integrity of a masonry structure. It involves removing damaged mortar joints and replacing them with new mortar.

Another key difference between tuckpointing and repointing is the depth of the repair. Tuckpointing involves only the outermost layer of mortar, while repointing involves removing and replacing the entire joint. Tuckpointing is therefore a less invasive technique that can be used to improve the appearance of a masonry structure without compromising its structural integrity.

repointing repair work

Signs That Your Structure Needs Tuckpointing or Repointing

Over time, brick and mortar structures can begin to show signs of wear and tear. If you notice any of the following signs, it may be time to consider tuckpointing or repointing:

Cracks in the Mortar

One of the most obvious signs that your structure needs tuckpointing or repointing is the appearance of cracks in the mortar. These cracks can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, weathering, and settling.

Gaps in the Mortar

Another sign that your structure may need tuckpointing or repointing is the appearance of gaps in the mortar.

Crumbling or Missing Mortar

If you notice that the mortar between your bricks is crumbling or missing, it is a sign that your structure needs tuckpointing or repointing.

Hairline Cracks in the Bricks

Hairline cracks in the bricks can also be a sign that your structure needs tuckpointing or repointing. These cracks can be caused by a variety of factors, including age, weathering, and settling.

Moisture in the Structure

If you notice moisture in your structure, it is a sign that your structure may need tuckpointing or repointing. Moisture can cause damage to your structure over time, so it is important to address this issue as soon as possible.

Weakness in the Structure

If you notice that your structure is weak or unstable, it is a sign that your structure needs tuckpointing or repointing.

Problems with the Chimney

If you notice that your chimney is leaning or has cracks, it is a sign that your structure needs tuckpointing or repointing.

cracked bricks

Cost Implications

Tuckpointing and repointing are both necessary maintenance tasks that can help maintain the structural integrity of a building. However, there are cost implications associated with both of these processes.

The cost of tuckpointing or repointing a brick house depends on several factors, including the size of the area that needs to be repaired, the type of brick used, and the extent of the damage. Tuckpointing can cost anywhere between £3 and £55 per square foot, while repointing brick costs slightly less, ranging from £5 to £75 per square foot. The cost of professional labour is the largest factor when calculating the cost of repointing a house.

It is important to note that the cost of tuckpointing or repointing can vary significantly depending on the location. For example, labour costs in London may be higher than in other parts of the country. Additionally, the cost of materials can also vary depending on the location.

Conclusion

In summary, tuckpointing and repointing are two distinct techniques used for repairing or restoring brickwork. Tuckpointing is a decorative technique that involves filling in pre-cleaned mortar joints with putty in contrasting colours to create the illusion of fine joints. On the other hand, repointing is a more functional technique that involves removing old or damaged mortar joints and replacing them with new ones.

When it comes to cost, repointing is generally more expensive than tuckpointing due to the labour-intensive nature of the work. However, spot tuckpointing can be a cost-effective alternative to full-scale tuckpointing, especially if only a few spots need fixing.

In conclusion, whether you choose tuckpointing or repointing, it is important to use a professional with the necessary skills and experience to ensure that the work is done to a high standard. Properly executed tuckpointing or repointing can help protect your building from water damage, improve its appearance, and prolong its lifespan.