Tuckpointing: Fixing Your Mortar

Tuckpointing is a way of using two contrasting colours of mortar in the joints of brickwork to give the impression that very fine joints have been made. There is a lot of confusion regarding this word because the terms pointing, repointing, and tuckpointing are often used interchangeably despite being very different processes. Read on to learn more about tuckpointing and it's uses in the masonry industry. 

The Right Definitions

Point: To place plastic mortar into joints in order to correct defects or completely fill joints in newly laid masonry.

Repoint: To place plastic mortar into cut or raked joints to correct defective mortar joints in masonry.

Tuckpoint: To point masonry with a flush mortar joint that approximates the colour of the masonry units and a mortar contrasting colour that is shaped into a thin strip.

Based on these definitions (provided by the source listed below), it is clear that pointing and repointing are masonry related tasks, while tuckpointing is instead only one of many variations of these tasks. In other words, tuckpointing is a process that can be used when either pointing or repointing. 

A Brief History

Tuckpointing was originally developed in England in the late 18th Century as a way to imitate the fine brickwork using rubbed bricks (bricks with a fine, red finish that had to be individually cut by hand). The end product would show a neat finish of red brick contrasting fine white joints. Tuckpointing achieved a similar effect using cheap, unrubbed bricks laid in a mortar of a matching colour, with a fine white material (usually putty) pushed into the joints. Essentially, tuckpointing is a way to make brickwork look expensive without the actual cost and labour involved with using rubbed bricks. 

When to Repoint

Typically the life of a mortar joint varies with exposure to weather and the materials used to make it. However, the expected average life span of a properly constructed mortar joint is about 25 years, while a brick can easily last over 100. Thus, mortar joints will need the occasional repair before the structure loses its foundational integrity. One of the most common reasons to repoint is water penetration. Repointing deteriorated mortar joints is one of the most effective ways to stop water penetration, extending the life of your structure. 

Signs That Your Need to Fix Your Mortar

The following are fairly common signs that you need to repoint/tuckpoint your mortar:

  • Mortar erosion of more than 6 mm
  • Crumbling mortar
  • Hairline cracks in mortar
  • Cracks between the brick and the mortar
  • Spalling mortar

If you notice any of these issues then you need to contact a masonry specialist right away who knows how to repoint and tuckpoint so that your end product will look as good as new. 

Blackwell Masonry Ltd. – Masonry Specialists for Kitchener/Waterloo

Blackwell Masonry provides quality brick laying services, and has served the Kitchener/Waterloo region for over 25 years. Blackwell specializes in all areas of residential masonry. Visit our services page for a full list of the services that we provide.

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email: conradblackwell@blackwellmasonry.com 

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