Tuckpointing cost can vary by areas or the type of work you need. In this tuckpointing expense guide, we will try and walk you through the expected costs of doing tuckpointing and what to expect before you call your local roofer.
Tuckpointing is a great way for homeowners to refresh crumbling or cracking mortar joints. With tuckpointing, older mortar joints in masonry walls are repurposed to look brand new. Masons dig out the old mortar and fill joints with new mortar to get rid of cracks and fading that makes a house look dilapidated.
Tuckpointing’s a great way to improve the look of the house without any major renovations.
A lot of homeowners and pay for tuckpointing purely for cosmetics. They like the way their house looks with fresh mortar joints. Also, masonry companies can add color and shading into the new mortar to change the exterior appearance.
Cosmetic tuckpointing is the main reason people pay for the procedure. Either they want an exterior update, or they have an exposed brick wall inside that needs a touchup. Mortar joints are generally very robust, and they usually last more than ten years before they need to be repaired.
Choosing decorative upgrades to a house often depends on the price. People don’t want to spend a ton of money, especially on the exterior, unless they get a lot of value out of the project.
Are tuckpointing project costs based on square footage? Is there a ballpark that most people pay? Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of costs associated with tuckpointing based on size, upgrade options and other factors in a project.
You can also use our mortar cost calculator below to see a rough estimate of your total costs.
Tuckpointing Cost Calculator:
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Read on to help better understand how to budget for tuckpointing cost and whether it’s for you.
Tuckpointing cost breakdown
- The national average cost of tuckpointing for a 20 square foot area is $500.
- A good mason can tuckpoint 10 square feet an hour (chimneys and hard to reach areas take longer).
- In a 20 square foot area, materials will constitute around $300 of the job, and labor will run about $200.
- Different areas of the country have varying labor rates. So, for instance, if your labor costs are 10% higher than the national average, tuckpointing for a 20 square foot wall will be $520 ($300 materials, $220 for labor).
- Tuckpointing at heights above 10 ft (when masons have to use ladders and scaffolding) cost more. Labor rates can double at heights over 10 feet, so tuckpointing a chimney could cost $1,000.
Cost Drivers: Breaking Down the Cost of Tuckpointing
What’s involved in tuckpointing price quotes? First, homeowners must get a detailed breakdown of costs from masonry companies, so they understand exactly what they’re paying for.
Far too often, owners busy with work and other obligations fail to cover budgets sufficiently. Knowing what you’re paying for and why is the best way to control over-schedule and over-budget projects.
Labor’s typically the most expensive component of any contracting or trade work. Just like any other industry, the quality of tuckpointing can vary widely from one company to another. The best way to find a great tuckpointing masonry company is to do research. Read reviews, ask around for referrals, and ask prospective companies for client recommendations or examples of their work.
It’s hard to give a general labor cost for tuckpointing because rates depend on location. Labor costs in big cities are much higher than in labor areas. There are, however, online tools to help homeowners estimate hourly rates for masonry work. Going off those rates, owners can then extrapolate what tuckpointing will cost.
Typically, a skilled mason can tuckpoint around 10 square ft an hour. Most contractors charge a premium for masonry work at elevated heights. You’ll pay more for tuckpointing on a roof-top chimney than you will for an interior wall. Premiums on higher heights can run anywhere from 40% to 100% of the normal cost. So, for instance, if you’re paying $8 per square ft for tuckpointing, anything over ten ft in height may cost you $11 to $16 per square ft.
Labor costs will also depend on the type of tools a masonry company uses. A lot of companies still remove old mortar joints by hand. The process can be very time-consuming and ultimately costly. There are, though, advanced tools that can work larger areas much faster than can be done by hand. Property owners need to weight the cost of hiring advanced masonry companies against the size of the project. Usually, hiring technologically equipped contractors makes more sense as the size of the project increases.
Different mortar materials have differing prices. Portland cement, the most common material used in mortar joints, is less expensive. Higher-end materials like lime will run about 10% more. Likewise, the addition of any colors can stick a large premium on tuckpointing. As a general rule, homeowners can expect tuckpointing materials to match the cost of labor for a project.
The tools used by masons to tuckpoint a home or building also affect cost. We’ve touched on how electric grinders can affect the cost, but the quality of a contractor’s other tools will also push the price up or down. Better tools cost more money. Owners should expect some of that cost to be baked into the price they pay, but it should also result in better finished work.
3. Associated Repair Costs
When a house is due for some tuckpointing, there’s usually some other work that needs to be done before the joints can be redone. By the time mortar joints are crumbling and cracked, the same has probably happened to the surrounding brickwork. Oftentimes, bricks need to be repaired or replaced before new mortar joints can be set. The added cost of repairs to a tuckpointing project will vary. If it’s just a few bricks that need to be replaced, then the cost will be minimal. However, if there’s a large crack running down a brick wall, then extensive repairs can cost a lot.
4. Decorative Costs
There are enhancements to tuckpointing that people select for aesthetic reasons. They’ll add colors into the mortar, or some tuckpointing – particularly with lime – can border brickwork with thin white borders that some find appealing. Decorative tuckpointing needs the hands of a skilled mason, so the cost can be double the normal labor rate. Other add-ons like caulking around window joints, near doors and close to vents can add a marginal cost to the project.
Property owners should consider where they will get the most value out of tuckpointing. For example, tuckpointing the front of the house only or skipping some hard to see areas can drastically reduce the total cost. Owners can still get the visual benefits of tuckpointing without covering every single brick on the house.
Houses located in wet climates need to waterproof mortar joints to extend their lifespan. If water is allowed to get into the new mortar, it can break it down quickly and you’ll find yourself calling for more tuckpointing before you know it. Water penetration can damage the surrounding bricks as well, so consider the benefits of waterproofing. It costs around $5 to $15 per square ft.
Here are some other things that can affect the cost of tuckpointing.
Hard to Reach Areas
Most masonry companies will be hard-pressed to give customers a rock-solid quote before they can take a look at the property. Some parts of a house are hard to work around, so it will take more time and cost more even though a square ft is still a square ft. Chimneys or around windows are great examples of this. It takes more time to maneuver around corners and scrape out old joints, so work will go more slowly.
Doing safe work takes time. Certainly, extra precaution is required for work around heavy materials, on rooftops, and using mechanical tools. The lengths some companies go to ensure safety can be frustrating for owners because they just want the work completed. Talk to the contractors you interview about what they do for safety and how it will affect the project’s timeline.
The Initial Inspection
The way homeowners manage the initial property inspection with the masonry company will have a big impact on the budget and quality of work. A lot of owners are reluctant to raise issues because they’re unfamiliar with the subject matter.
They defer to the masons’ expertise. However, it’s vital that owners understand the scope of work and why each task is necessary. Speak up if there are problems you think your contractor is overlooking.
Many jobs end up costing more because the contractor failed to address a problem in the brickwork, install flashing incorrectly, or something as simple as cleaning poorly before new mortar was applied. Mistakes end up costing more and taking additional time.