What are the Different Styles of Brick Pointing?

Brick-pointing is an essential aspect of constructing and maintaining brick structures. It involves the art of finishing mortar joints between bricks to enhance the appearance and longevity of the structure.

There are various pointing styles used in the UK, each offering its unique aesthetic and practical benefits. By selecting the appropriate pointing style for a specific project, architects and homeowners can achieve the desired look while ensuring the durability of the brickwork.

Some common brick pointing styles include raked pointing, recessed pointing, tuck pointing, and V-joint pointing. These techniques allow for the creation of diverse visual effects, varying from traditional, historical designs to contemporary, bold styles. Whichever method is chosen, it is crucial to apply the mortar with care and precision to achieve lasting and attractive results.

In the following article, we will explore different types of pointing styles and their characteristics to help you make an informed decision for your brickwork project. This knowledge ensures that the mortar joints complement the brickwork, creating a harmonious and appealing appearance while maintaining the structure’s longevity.

pointing styles 2

Flush Pointing

Flush pointing is a commonly used style in brickwork, which involves filling the mortar joints between bricks to create a smooth surface. This technique is considered both practical and visually appealing for its sleek appearance.

To achieve flush pointing, the mortar is pressed firmly into the raked joints between the bricks. The edges are then neatly trimmed with a trowel and straight edge, ensuring that the mortar is flush with the brick surface. The result is a compact and smooth finish that provides good protection against the ingress of dust and water by removing any spaces for them to enter.

The main advantages of flush pointing are its simplicity and relatively low maintenance requirements. As the mortar is pressed hard into the joints and aligned with the brick surface, it creates a sturdy structure that can withstand the elements effectively.

However, it should be noted that flush pointing might not be the best option for every situation, as it may not provide the same visual appeal or character as other pointing styles, such as weather-struck or tuckpointing. Nonetheless, for projects where a clean and contemporary look is desired, flush pointing proves to be a reliable and efficient choice.

flush pointing

Recessed Pointing

Recessed pointing is a popular style of brick pointing that adds both texture and protection to the masonry. This technique utilises a concave groove in the mortar joint, resulting in a visually appealing and robust finish. Recessed pointing can be seen in various brickwork structures and is considered a preferred choice for many due to its enhanced durability and aesthetic appearance.

The process of creating recessed pointing involves removing surface mortar to a depth of approximately 5mm to create a channel between the bricks. The gap is then filled with fresh mortar and finished with an appropriate tool to achieve a compact and flat appearance. This technique helps to resist water ingress and preserve the longevity of the masonry. Raked joints are comparatively similar; however, they generally involve a narrower depth and are often used in traditional or historical masonry work.

It is important to note that recessed pointing is not suitable for all types of brickwork. For example, struck pointing, an alternative method, offers a raised and angled mortar joint that may be more appropriate for certain exposed masonry that requires additional weather protection. Ultimately, the choice between recessed and struck pointing will depend on factors such as location, exposure, and historical relevance of the structure.

Recessed Pointing

Beaded Pointing

Beaded pointing is a unique and visually appealing technique used to enhance the appearance of brickwork. Skilfully applied using the right mortar and tools like a small trowel or pointing trowel, beaded pointing creates a curved, protruding shape along the mortar joint, giving a distinct and attractive finish to the brickwork.

To achieve the desired beaded shape, you’ll need the right mortar mix and consistency. This ensures that the mortar can hold its shape and be applied smoothly. The beaded joint is formed by using a tool with a curved edge, such as a beaded jointer or small trowel, to shape the mortar into a convex curve.

One of the main challenges of beaded pointing is that the mortar protrudes slightly from the face of the brick, making it more susceptible to damage compared to other techniques, such as V pointing. However, the aesthetic appeal of beaded pointing often makes this trade-off worthwhile.

Beaded Pointing

Struck Pointing

Struck pointing is a distinctive brick pointing technique where you strike a line in the mortar joint at an angle. With this method, a line is struck into the fresh mortar at a slight inward incline, typically around 10mm deep. This leaves the mortar face with an angled channel rather than being flush with the bricks.

Striking a line in the mortar joint serves an important functional purpose by allowing for effective water drainage. The small slanted groove that is created helps direct water away from the brickwork efficiently, protecting the masonry from potential damage caused by water infiltration over time.

Aesthetically, struck pointing also offers an appealing look. The sloped mortar profile adds subtle shadows that enhance the intricate detailing of brick projects. This unique visual makes struck pointing a suitable choice for both traditional and modern building designs.

While the drainage benefits and appearance make struck pointing desirable, it does require more precision during application compared to flush pointing. Achieving an even angle and depth across all joints can take additional time and skill from masons. However, the extra effort results in mortar lines that distinctly catch the light to highlight the brickwork texture.

Struck Pointing

Rubbed, Keyed or Grooved Pointing

Rubbed, keyed, or grooved pointing is a style of brick pointing that combines various techniques to create unique patterns and textures in the mortar joints. This type of pointing requires a high level of attention to detail and skill, as it combines aspects of flush pointing with additional finishes to achieve a more decorative outcome.

To create the rubbed, keyed or grooved finish, additional grooves or patterns are made within the flush pointing using a specific pointing tool or a small piece of metal. These patterns can be straight, curved, or angled, depending on the desired look. Some options include V-grooved pointing, which features deep V-shaped grooves, and keyed pointing, which creates a ridged, textured appearance.

The main purpose of using rubbed, keyed or grooved pointing is to enhance the overall aesthetic of the brickwork while providing a solid, weather-resistant finish. This type of pointing is suitable for both residential and commercial buildings, adding a unique touch that can help bring brick-and-mortar structures to life.

Tuck Pointing

Tuck pointing is a well-regarded and timeless brick pointing style that creates the illusion of thinner mortar joints, enhancing the overall elegance of the brickwork. In this process, mortar is carefully applied and shaped in order to achieve a polished and visually appealing finish.

This technique is often used to restore the appearance of aging or damaged brickwork, as well as for new constructions seeking to achieve a classic and refined look.

The process of tuck pointing requires great attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship. To begin, old or damaged mortar is removed from the brick joints and replaced with mortar that closely matches the colour of the bricks. Then, thin lines of contrasting putty or mortar are embedded in the joints to create a striking, well-defined appearance. This careful combination of colours and lines produces the desired “tuck pointed” effect.

There are several advantages to using tuck pointing in brickwork. Firstly, it preserves the structural integrity of the brickwork, as well as its aesthetic appeal. Moreover, tuck pointing can extend the lifespan of a building by preventing water ingress and deterioration caused by exposure to the elements. Lastly, this style is versatile and can be adapted to various types of bricks and architectural designs.

It is worth noting that tuck pointing is a labour-intensive procedure, and it can be expensive compared to other pointing styles. However, the end result is a polished and timeless look that adds a touch of elegance to any structure.

V Pointing

V pointing, also known as V-grooved pointing, is a popular style of brick pointing that offers a distinctive look to masonry structures. It involves carving deep, V-shaped grooves into the mortar joint, providing a textured and pronounced appearance. This style adds character and depth to the architecture while serving a functional purpose.

To create V pointing, the mortar mix needs to be carefully prepared and should have a consistent and workable consistency. This facilitates precise shaping of the grooves and ensures longevity of the structure. A pointing trowel or a jointer tool with a V-shaped profile is used to form the V-grooves in the mortar, and the excess mortar is removed using a straight-edge trowel.

The V pointing technique offers several advantages. Not only does it help enhance the aesthetics of the brickwork, but it also provides better weather protection as the V-shaped grooves facilitate water runoff, reducing the chances of moisture infiltration. This characteristic makes V pointing particularly suitable for structures in areas with substantial rain or damp climates.

V Pointing

Bucket handle

Bucket handle or half round brick pointing refers to a profile where the mortar joints are tooled into a curved semi-circular shape. Specialised jointing irons are used to shape the fresh mortar into consistent bucket handle or half round profiles that recess slightly into the brick face.

This style offers functional and aesthetic benefits. Functionally, the bucket handle or half round mortar joints allow for effective water drainage away from the bricks. Any moisture is directed out of the recessed joints rather than being absorbed. Aesthetically, the curved profile adds visual interest with subtle shadows. It accentuates the texture of the bricks more than flush or struck straight joints.

Perfecting the bucket handle profile across an entire wall or structure requires skill. The jointing iron must be applied with even pressure to tool each mortar joint into a true semi-circular bucket handle or half round shape of an exact depth and thickness. Additional time is spent finishing the edges and ends of each joint so they are sharp and well-defined. While more labor intensive than other methods, the end result is highly attractive brickwork with durability. The bucket handle or half round joints enhance both the visual appearance and water resistance of the masonry for decades.