How to repoint a wall with a tuck pointer
The main use of a tuck pointer is to press mortar into brick joints during repointing. Tuck pointers are useful for this because they are narrow enough to fit lengthways into most brick joints.
Repointing a wall needs to be done right, or brickwork can deteriorate into a very poor condition. It's more than just slapping on some mortar with a tuck pointer!
When repointing a wall, you will need:
It is very important to use the right mortar for the wall you're planning to repoint. In many older buildings, the brickwork must be repointed with traditional lime mortar rather than modern cement-based mortar. Older walls are more susceptible to damp and mould, and the lime mortar acts as a sponge, absorbing water and allowing it to evaporate.
Preparing the wall
Step 1 - Remove loose mortar
Before adding new mortar to a wall, it is important to remove some of the old mortar. Applying a thin layer of new mortar on top of damaged mortar will only make the wall more likely to fail. Use the brush to get rid of loose mortar, being careful not to sweep away chunks of mortar that are supporting loose bricks.
Step 2 - Make room for the new joint
Once the loose material is gone, use a hammer and chisel to carefully knock the surface mortar from each brick joint, to a depth of roughly 6mm (1/4 of an inch). There needs to be enough space for the new mortar to gain a foothold, without removing too much of the mortar that's already in place, which would destabilise the wall.
Step 3 - Wet the wall
Before applying mortar, the wall must be wetted. Dry bricks and mortar will absorb the moisture out of the new mortar and stop it from setting properly. Use a water bottle or paint sprayer to dampen the bricks, and then dampen them again after the first coat of water has been absorbed by the bricks.
Mixing the mortar
Step 1- Wet your tools
Before mixing your mortar, wet any tools and receptacles you'll be using.
Step 2 - Mix your mortar
A batch of mortar should generally have a ratio of one part of dry cement or lime for every three parts of sand. You can measure out this mixture by simply adding one heaped trowel or spadeful of cement for every three heaped trowels or spadefuls of sand.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixing receptacle and mix them thoroughly with your trowel before adding water. Be careful not to dump the ingredients from a height, which will lead to a lot of cement being lost as dust, which is dangerous if breathed in.
Add small amounts of water and keep mixing until the mix has the consistency of mashed potatoes. It's important for the mortar not to be too wet or too dry. You can test the consistency as you mix by scooping up a small amount of mortar on your trowel and letting it slide off. The consistency will be perfect when the mortar sticks to the trowel but slides off slowly when you turn the trowel on its side. If you use a mortar addative (recommended), make sure you follow the manufacturers instructions.
Try not to make more mortar than you need. Once you have mixed a batch of mortar, you only have 30-40 minutes before it hardens, after which it cannot be used. Some builders add more water to their mortar later on to keep it workable, but this doesn't stop it from hardening at a chemical level. Any mortar that is more than 40 minutes old should not be used. It will crack very quickly after it has been applied, and more repointing will be necessary.
Leave the mortar to 'slake' for seven minutes - this is the period that it takes for the chemical reactions to take place which will bond the mortar together.
Applying the mortar
Once the old mortar has been removed, and your new mortar has slaked, you are ready to start applying the mortar. Use the pointing trowel to scoop mortar onto your mortar hawk.
Holding the mortar hawk in one hand and the tuck pointer in the other, use the tuck pointer to slice off a "lift" of mortar which is thick enough to fill a bed joint.
Step 1 - Bed Joints
Line up your mortar hawk directly with the bed joint and use the tuck pointer to push the lift into the joint, packing it in as much as possible to prevent any pockets of air being trapped behind it. Repeat this at a fast pace until you've finished a whole row of bed joints.
Step 2 - Head JointsAfter each row of bed joints, fill in the vertical joints in the same way. When repointing verticals it can be easier to scrape the mortar off a large pointing trowel rather than a mortar hawk.
Step 3 - Keep Going!
Continue this process until you've used up your mortar and a section of the wall is done. For large walls it's better to stagger your repointing over several sessions, to avoid weakening the wall or tiring yourself out.
Step 1 - Cleaning the brick face
Turn the tuck pointer on its side and use it to scrape off any large flakes or "feathers" of excess mortar.
|Go over the wall with your squeegee to remove any mortar that has built up on the surface of your wall. It is important to use a squeegee for this step, as a tuck pointer could leave permanent and unsightly scratch-marks on the brick face.|
Use a stiff brush to clean any remaining mortar off the brick faces.
Step 2 - Pointing
Now you have finally got to the 'pointing' stage of repointing. Pointing is the process of shaping a brick joint to make it more resistant to weather. A popular kind of pointing is a concave joint, but there are alternative styles. If you have a round-edged tuck pointer, you can run its base along the joints to depress the mortar into the right shape. For drier mortar it can be more effective to use other pointing tools such as a brick jointer. Seefor more information on brick joints and tools for brick jointing.
Step 3 - Final Wetting
Leave the new joints for several hours and then apply a mist of water over the bricks to keep the mortar wet and ensure the proper chemical hardening process.
Step 4 - Clean your tools
Once you have finished repointing, it is important to clean your tools properly. Seefor details of how to look after your tuck pointer.