A few bricks shy - Repointing pointers

Allied Concrete

Q. After a long summer, our brick is wearing, and pieces are falling out. How do I repoint the weathered bricks?

A. The best way to repoint at home is with a trowel and a tuck-point blade. The trowel holds the mortar, and the tuck point pushes the mortar into the aging joint. Just push the mortar into that joint. If you want an example, go to quikrete.com and click on Do-It-Yourself projects.

To choose the right mortar, take a sample of your mortar to a concrete or brick shop. There are pre-mixed mortars or colored mortars. For the colorCXZs, just add sand to the solution. The most difficult task is to identify your color and then find the closest match– the matching process depends on the extent of brick weathering and aging.

Also, the age of the brick helps to determine the strength of the mortar you should use. If the brick is over 50 years old, you have to begin to use softer mortars– just buy mortar with higher lime content. With aging, the bricks may shrink, and stronger mortars may damage the brick even more.

When repointing with mortar, you usually have about two hours to work. Make sure you have above freezing temperatures and dry conditions. The mortar takes about three to four hours to dry after application.

Many homeowners will be dissatisfied when duplicating the mortar colors. But mortars age and weather– you'll never match mortar exactly, and the aging process makes it even more complicated. Even with professionals, you can usually distinguish new mortar from the original color.

Be sure to evaluate how much of the wall you want to repoint. Depending on the extent of the weathering, you may have to replace whole sections of the wall, but tuck-pointing the joint usually works for minor weather repairs.

Oftentimes you notice the different color mortars, but don't get discouraged ­ practice before you repoint, and as you do more, it gets easier and easier.

Bill Mack of Allied Concrete