Brick Pointing and Repointing
Tuckpointing, or brick repointing as it's also known, is an essential restoration method used to uphold both the aesthetic appeal and structural soundness of brick constructions. Time tends to erode brickwork, despite its robustness and allure, with the mortar joints that unite the bricks being especially vulnerable. Various elements like moisture, variations in temperature, and air pollution can hasten this erosion process. Repointing is the process of renewing these weathered or damaged joints to preserve the lifespan of the brickwork and ensure the building's continued stability.
Repointing is a meticulous process that requires specialized skills and knowledge. Before the repointing begins, the current condition of the mortar joints is thoroughly assessed to determine the extent of the damage. The depth of the eroded or damaged mortar must be measured; generally, when it has receded 6mm or more, repointing is recommended.
Once the need for repointing is established, the old mortar is carefully removed to a certain depth using a grinder or a chisel, ensuring not to damage the bricks. This step, known as raking out, is critical and requires a gentle, deliberate approach. Hastily or forcefully removing mortar can cause unnecessary damage to the bricks, which can in turn compromise the structure.
Next, the correct type of mortar must be prepared for the repointing process. It's crucial that the new mortar matches the composition, color, and texture of the existing one as closely as possible. This helps in maintaining the original aesthetic of the brickwork and ensures that the new mortar performs similarly to the old under weathering conditions.
The process of actually repointing the brickwork involves filling the raked out joints with the fresh mortar. This is typically done using a pointing trowel, ensuring the new mortar is compacted tightly into the joints to prevent future water penetration. After this, the mortar is tooled, or shaped, to match the original style of the joints.
The final step is to let the mortar cure properly. While it may seem dry and set after a few hours, mortar usually needs several days or even weeks to fully cure, depending on the weather conditions.
In conclusion, brick repointing is a delicate process requiring an understanding of the materials involved and careful workmanship. It's often a wise investment, as it can significantly extend the life of a brick building and maintain its historical and architectural value.
Does Repointing Stop Damp?
Repointing can help to prevent damp in certain cases. If the source of the damp is due to failed or degraded mortar joints that are allowing water to penetrate into the brickwork, then yes, repointing would resolve this issue by renewing the mortar and creating a solid, weather-resistant barrier.
However, it's important to note that damp can be caused by various issues, not just failing mortar joints. These can include rising damp (moisture rising from the ground), penetrating damp (water leaking through walls), condensation, and plumbing leaks, among others. Repointing will not help if the damp is due to one of these other issues.
Therefore, if you're dealing with damp in your property, it's crucial to correctly identify the cause before undertaking any repair work. A professional surveyor or builder can help determine the cause of the damp and suggest the most appropriate solution. If the cause is deteriorated mortar, then a professional repointing job could indeed solve the problem.