What is Repointing
When it comes to housing, the vast majority of homes have one thing in common: mortar. Especially within masonry homes and Victorian houses, the exterior brick, stone or concrete work will have most likely been separated using mortar, due to this materials accessibility and strong structure. The main job of this filling is to provide a strong separation between the brickwork, as well as smoothing over any irregularities within the exterior frame, meaning it protects the home against any water damage or changes in structure.
However, over years of wear and tear brought on by the English weather, this brick work may start to produce signs of disintegration and become softer and more absorbent. In this case, it is of the utmost importance that you consider repointing your property, in order to prevent any water leakage and potential damage to the interior of your home.
It is not always the case that the entire exterior of your house will need repointing, however it is likely that the freshly repointed area will stand out and appear uneven in terms of the exterior aesthetics. Nevertheless, if one section of the outer walls is in need of repair, it is most likely that the weather damage has affected the remaining house exterior, therefore it is recommended when investing in repointing to cover the whole house.
Knowing What to Look for
It is crucial that you are well equipped with the knowledge and ability to identify when it is time to repoint, not only to save you money, but also to prevent any unnecessary alteration to the house exterior. The process is extremely simple. Below is an example of a brick that is in need of repointing:
Image Source: Angies List
When examining your brick work, a good guide to go by is to measure the depth of the disintegration against the height of the mortar. As soon as the depth matches the height of the mortar filling, it’s time to start repointing.
How to Repoint
Repointing isn’t the most complicated of jobs, but it does require time and physical effort to get the job done properly. There are an abundance of repointing contractors that will quote you on your home though, if this is more convenient for you. However, given the simplicity of the job, it may be best to get it done yourself. Below is a step by step guide on how to repoint your wall:
- Raking the Mortar
- Dampening the Mortar
- Creating the Mortar Mixture
- Applying the Mortar
- Finishing the Job
- Take Care
Raking the Original Mortar
First things first, make sure you adequately rake out all of the mortar joint within your wall. Usually, you should be aiming to rake out around twice the height of the mortar joining. It is best to use specifically designed tools for this to ensure there is no scratching to the brick work. After the raking is finished, make sure you use a stiff brush to get rid of the excess mortar. A little tip, throughout the whole process, start from the top of the wall in order to prevent any dust creeping into any refilled mortar.
Dampening the Mortar
Make sure you dampen the mortar before applying any sort of mixture to the wall. Using some form of spraying mechanism is recommended to ensure it is the mortar that is dampened rather than the whole wall itself.
Creating the Mortar Mixture
Mortar mixes are usually inexpensive and available from a range of DIY store such as B&Q and Wickes. When beginning the mixing process, it is important to create a mixture suitable to the job at hand. Rain Defence provides a great guide to follow for mixing the perfect mortar for your repointing. A good thing to remember is not to overload the mix with water, as this increases the likelihood of future cracking. The final mixture should be able to stand without slumping.
Applying the Mortar
Once the mixture is complete and the wall is raked, you are ready to apply the mortar. Tools required for this phase include a trowel and a pointing tool, again these are available at any local DIY store. Load a sufficient amount of mortar onto the trowel and apply to the joint, using your pointing tool to pat the mixture into the crease. You should fill the joint to roughly the height of your mortar joints.
Always try to push the new mixture toward the existing mortar in order to create a compact filling. Make sure you are using a thin enough pointing tool to ensure no spillage collects on the bricks, and do not towel off wet mortar, instead wait until slightly hardened to start shaping the mortar.
Finishing the Job
After three or four hours check on the mortar. You shouldn’t be able to make an impression in the mortar with your thumb, but should be able to with your nail. When this is the case, use a piece of wood or rubber angled at 45 degrees and slide the surface of the wood along the freshly made mortar, applying a good pressure throughout the whole process.
Last of all, to ensure a decent amount of time before needing a revamp, make sure you take care of your exterior walling. Occasionally spray the wall with water, to rid the effects of heat, rain or cold. If you have been repointing a garden wall, then if possible, throughout the winter months, hang tarpaulins or hessian on the wall, as this is a valid method of preventing further damage to the mortar.
Below is an example of a house in need of repointing and a house that has been freshly repointed. Your final piece should resemble the image to the right.
Image Source: Essex Brickwork and Repointing
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