The Biggest Mistake Made on Older Brick Homes When Tuckpointing
Older brick homes have endured years of exposure to the harshest conditions. After many temperature fluctuation cycles that cause bricks to expand and contract, aging mortar joints can quickly deteriorate. Tuckpointing, also called repointing, when done right by specialized tuckpointing contractors from Skokie to Northbrook and Evanston, restores the physical integrity of the brickwork as well as the visual appeal.
The number 1 mistake made when tuckpointing older brick structures, is poor mortar mixture, from one that is too loose to too firm. The reason is that homes that predate 1890 were built of weaker bricks with mortar that was not used as a glue to hold them together but as a joint that absorbed moisture and allowed the bricks to shift. The new mortar that tuckpointing contractors deal with is meant to be softer than the original so that it absorbs water and serves as an expansion joint that relieves the stress on the bricks.
A keen eye during a visual inspection by skilled tuckpointing contractors and beyond can assess the details needed to produce the proper mortar mixture. The strength and permeability of the existing mortar will be analyzed, but the new mortar does not necessarily need to contain the exact elements used in the original mixture. It would be impossible to replicate. The goal of the masonry contractors is to come as close as possible so that the new mortar matches the old visually and functionally.
Historically, masonry contractors used lime and sand to mix their mortar. The sand is what produces the right color and texture for the new masonry repair. Another important consideration is vapor permeability, which measures the amount of water vapor that passes through the mortar. When dealing with older bricks, the new mortar produced by the tuckpointing contractors should have the same level of vapor permeability and the same softness as the old mortar. This helps to prevent damage to the masonry over time by relieving undue stress in the wall. Masonry contractors give careful attention to the mortar attributes to help prevent premature cracking in the mortar and spalling bricks.
A narrow tuckpointing trowel may be the only tool needed to squeeze new mortar into the joints of an older brick building. But the experienced eye of tuckpointing contractors and surrounding areas, together with a spray mister, is what keeps the mortar moist to prevent it from drying too quickly.