How to tuckpoint a wall

     
     
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 An example of tuckpointing with red mortar and a white fillet 

Traditional tuckpointing (which is not the same thing as regular repointing!) is a fine art, with many secrets known only to a small number of master craftsmen - but that's no reason why you shouldn't give it a go. You will need many of the same tools as you would when repointing a wall. See How to repoint a wall with a tuck pointer for a full list. In addition, you will need the following tools and materials.

 
     
   

Tuckpointing Tools and Materials

 
 A tuck pointer with a short blade and a square bead 

You will need:

  • A professional tuckpointing tool, with a grooved edge that can leave a square bead of contrasting mortar

 
     
 Straight Edges used by professional tuckpointers 
  • A tuckpointer's straight edge (or a thin, straight-edged plank of wood)

 
     
 A tub of lime putty suitable for use in tuckpointing 
  • Two contrasting colours of mortar. One colour needs to resemble the colour of the brickwork. The other, used for the fillet, is usually white. Many tuckpointers use lime mortar (non-hydraulic lime mixed with water to create a slurry) as a fillet.

 
     
 You need a Frenchman knife for tuckpointing - not an actual Frenchman 
  • A Frenchman 

 
    Wonkee Donkee says that you need a Frenchman knife for tuckpointing - not an actual Frenchman 
     
   

How to tuckpoint

 
 There are a variety of different mortar dyes on offer, in a wide range of colours including red, brown and buff 

Step 1 - Mix brick-coloured mortar

The most important element of tuckpointing is creating a mortar which disguises the original brick joint. To do this, the mortar needs to be roughly the same colour as the brick work. This can be achieved by buying pre-coloured dry cement, adding a dye to the mortar mix, or trying to colour the mortar yourself using sand that is a similar colour to the brick. The basics of mixing mortar are explained in How to repoint a wall with a tuckpointer. 

 
     
 A tuckpointer laying brick-coloured mortar 

Step 2 - Apply brick-coloured mortar

Once you've mixed the mortar, apply it to the wall which you want to tuckpoint. Ensure that the mortar fills the entire joint and is flush (in line with) with the surface of the brick.

 
     
 Using a trowel to lift lime mortar out of a mixing recepticle 

Step 3- Mix contrasting mortar

Quickly mix a batch of lime mortar, combining non-hydraulic lime with sand and water, using the same methods lined out in How to repoint a wall with a tuck pointer

 
     
 A tuckpointer lining up their straight edge with a mortar joint 

Step 4 - Line up the straight edge

Compact a large lump of lime mortar against one side of your straight edge (this will come in handy in the next step), then place the straight edge against the wall, with the mortar facing out towards you. If you've compacted the mortar, it should stay on the straight edge without falling off. Once you've prepared the mortar, line up the straight edge with the bed joint so that the top is slightly less than halfway up the joint. 

 
     
 Using the square-beaded tuck pointer to collect putty 

Step 5 - Collect lime mortar with your tuck pointer

Holding your straight edge with one hand, use the other hand to scrape some lime mortar onto your tuck pointer, filling the groove on the base of the blade.

 
     
 A tuckpointer laying a ribbon of white putty with a square-beaded tuck pointer 

Step 6 - Score your tuck pointer along the straight edge

Run the tuck pointer along the top of the straight edge, scoring the brick-coloured mortar and leaving a bead of contrasting mortar.

 
     
 A tuckpointer tuckpoints a bed joint with his tuck pointer 

Step 7 - Continue

Keep scoring beads until you've laid all of the bed joints you need. Do this roughly one brick at a time. 

 
     
 Using a Frenchman (the tool, not a real Frenchman) to shave off excess putty 

Step 8 - Cut the fillet

Once you have left a fillet in the joint, go over it with the Frenchman and shave off the excess mortar, so that the fillet is flush with the mortar. 

 
     
 A tuckpointer places his straight edge vertically and places a fillet of lime putty in a head joint 

 Step 9 - Lay vertical fillets

After laying beads of lime mortar in your horizontal bed joints, repeat the process with your vertical head joints. 

    
 Using the Frenchman to remove excess putty from head joints 

Step 10 - Cut vertical fillets

Use the Frenchman to shave off the excess mortar from vertical fillets.

    
 A redbrick wall tuckpointed with white putty 

Step 11 - Done!

If you've followed our steps correctly, then congratulations! You've tuckpointed your wall like the master tuckpointers of old. 

 

    
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