This is a collaborative post.
Brick and stone masonry, as a general rule, are almost entirely maintenance free. Brick, stone, masonry units, and block can remain in good condition for as long as 100 years, and possibly even longer. On the other hand, typically, mortar joints will remain in good condition for perhaps 20 to 30 years. This is very much dependent on the exposure to prevailing weather conditions. The harsher the prevailing weather conditions and the more exposure there is, the less time that mortar joints will remain in good condition. When repairs are called for it is normally in the form of tuckpointing. If you do see crumbling mortar, water damage or cracks appearing in the mortar, you may be wondering if the mortar joints are in need of repair.
The following five points will help to provide an answer to your question.
1 Tuckpointing – What exactly is it?
In general, tuckpointing refers to the processes that are involved in making repairs to the mortar joints in brick or stone masonry walls. These repairs are made by raking or grinding out old mortar to a particular depth. New mortar is then used to replace the old mortar. It’s a labor-intensive process, and calls for an experienced and knowledgeable masonry contractor to make a determination about the work that is required.
2 When is tuckpointing needed?
Prior to calling on the services of a masonry contractor, if you do think that the mortar is badly deteriorating, and, as such, should be repaired, there’s a simplistic test you can do. Use a key or something similar and scrape it over the mortar joints. If the mortar turns to powder, you’ll then know that tuckpointing is necessary. On the other hand, if you’re still not sure, you can call on the services of a masonry contractor. The contractor will make an evaluation of the situation.
3 Is it really necessary to tuckpoint?
When mortar becomes weakened, normally over a period of many years, moisture can more easily get into the brick or stone. In turn, this starts to cause moisture-related problems. When thorough tuckpointing is carried out, the mortar joints regain a certain level of waterproofing, thereby ensuring that the wall lasts for many more years to come.
4 Any other reasons to tuckpoint?
If tuckpointing is carried out well in advance of any drastic damage occurring, it will save you a lot of money. On the other hand, if a brick or stone wall is not tuckpointed when required, it’s likely there will only be one remedy – the wall will need to be completely replaced.
5 How to tell when it is too late for tuckpointing?
If the masonry units (the stone or brick) become loose, you should realise that it’s too late for tuckpointing. What does that actually mean? It means that the stone or brick masonry wall will need to be completely re-laid. Obviously, this process will cost a whole lot more money than tuckpointing the mortar joints. So, it’s best policy to quite frequently check the condition of the masonry within your wall.