Tuckpointing

According to the Masonry Advisory Council, the lifespan of brick can exceed 100 years while the mortar joints may last just past 25 years. Due to these longevity differences, occasional mortar joint repair is common. These mortar repairs are known as “repointing” and “tuckpointing.”

What is Tuckpointing?

In order to understand our Chicago tuckpointing and repointing services, it’s important to understand what “pointing” refers to. Pointing involves applying mortar into the joints of masonry to fill them or correct defects. Depending on the original mortar used and the exposure to the elements, mortar joints will eventually show signs of deterioration, start to crack, or even fall out completely. Failing mortar can lead to excessive water penetration, making repointing essential for cosmetic and structural reasons.

Professional Chicago Tuckpointing, Repointing, and Mortar Repair Service

Whether you need traditional mortar repointing or historic tuckpointing, these crucial mortar repair jobs should always be performed by a mortar repair craftsman who is skilled in:

  • Grinding mortar joints to the proper depth (usually ½ inch) and profile with minimal damage to the bricks
  • Proper mortar mixing (may require mortar analysis and sand sourcing)
  • Accurate color matching
  • Proper application of the mortar including layering, compacting, and tooling

The Importance of Using the Proper Mortar Mix

You’ve likely seen glaring examples of brick repair in Chicago. When the new mortar is easily distinguishable from the original, these repairs stick out like a sore thumb. For example, tuckpointing using the wrong mortar results in a visible scar across the face of your home because the new mortar doesn’t match the existing mortar. It takes years (sometimes decades, sometimes never) for mismatched mortar repairs to blend in.

The best tuckpointing and mortar repairs are those that you haven’t noticed. Professional Chicago tuckpointing repairs blend in seamlessly from the beginning. Exceptional mortar repairs don’t happen by accident. They require attention to detail and extensive expertise.

For example, the following factors affect the quality of the mortar repair:

  • Ratio of ingredients – Mortar mix should contain the same ratio of lime, sand, and Portland cement as the original.
  • Sand properties – The grains of sand should be of the same size and color as the original sand used.
  • Color matching – In addition to sand, some historic mortar included crushed oyster shells and even horsehair which lent a distinctive color to the mortar
  • Water quality – The water used to mix the mortar should be clean, potable, and free of excessive acid, alkalis, and organic material.
  • Compressive strength – The compressive strength of the mortar used for repointing / tuckpointing should be similar to or stronger than the original mortar

We are Chicago tuckpointing experts who take pride in our mortar repair services. Repointing and tuckpointing in Chicago, whether as part of a brick wall or chimney repair, requires expert craftsmen skilled in the art of mortar repair. Contact us today to get started.

Brick Wall Basics

Most people immediately recognize a brick wall for what it is, but have you ever noticed the different types of brickwork? From intricate brick patterns, known as bonds, to a variety of materials and masonry construction techniques, there’s much more to a basic brick wall than meets the eye. Below are a few brickwork concepts you’ll likely encounter as you research brick repair and tuckpointing in Chicago

  • Brick bonds – Brick bonds are patterns in the brick work. The way the bricks are laid creates a decorative pattern, and in some cases, creates a structural bond. Brick bonds in single-thickness walls are decorative while brick bonds in double-thickness walls actually connect (bond) the two layers and strengthen the wall.
  • Wythe – A unit of single brick masonry is referred to as a wythe. A single-thickness vertical brick wall is one brick thick.
  • Brick veneer – Most modern brick buildings feature an exterior, non-structural veneer of brickwork. The single wythe brick veneer is then attached to a structural element such as wood or metal framing with an air cavity in between.
  • Solid masonry walls – Solid masonry walls are structural walls made up of two or more wythes. They are typically interconnected by placing alternating sections of bricks across the two wythes
  • Cavity walls – Cavity walls are walls built with two wythes of bricks tied together. They feature a continuous airspace, or cavity, in between the two wythes. The airspace serves several important purposes: it provides insulation; it allows moisture to escape out of the brickwork through weep holes; and it provides some soundproofing
  • Brick types – Pressed bricks are traditionally made from molding mud or clay into rectangular units and then firing the units in a kiln. Wirecut bricks are made using a newer manufacturing process that involves extruding the clay and cutting it with a wire to form the units before firing
  • Brick ties – Brick ties are a type of connector used to connect wythes of brick to one another or to another structural element.

Home Firewall Repair

Home firewalls are an important part of a home’s safety system. The firewall is a wall between an attached garage and the home’s living space and is designed to slow the spread of a fire. Often made of brick, home firewalls play an important role should a fire break out in the garage. However, while brick can last for more than 100 years, the mortar holding the bricks in place has a shorter lifespan. Mortar failures include deterioration, crumbling, cracks, and missing chunks, any of which can compromise the integrity of the firewall itself.

Home firewall repair involving brick firewalls should be done by a qualified tuckpointing contractor such as Chicago Brick Co. We are experts at tuckpointing, which is the craft of repairing the mortar joints in a brick wall.

Is your brick firewall in need of repair? Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Chicago Brick Licensing

We carry both a class B and class C masonry license (license #MC6627) issued from the City of Chicago, Department of Buildings. These licenses permit us to legally perform concrete and brick work and obtain permits as needed.

Due to a lack of enforcement, approximately 9 out of 10 contractors performing extensive masonry repairs in Chicago lack a class C license and are not adequately insured.

As an educated consumer, do your due diligence before hiring a contractor because, unfortunately, not all contractors share our commitment to the profession. Don’t assume or take a contractor’s word for it, demand to see the physical license and make sure it has not expired. If the contractor can’t produce a current license, continue your search for a licensed masonry contractor in Chicago.

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