Brick exteriors are attractive and never require painting. However, they still require maintenance. The mortar joints between each brick can weather and deteriorate. The process of clearing the deteriorated mortar and replacing it with new mortar is known as pointing. It is also sometimes known as tuck-pointing or repointing the brick.
Pointing a brick wall requires a few specialised tools and a great deal of time. The Family Handyman, in an article published on the Readers Digest Web site, estimated a day's work by a homeowner will point a 4 foot by 5 foot area of wall. Homeowners should assess if they have the time, skills and tools to accomplish the task. Appropriate ladders or scaffolding will be needed for multistory buildings.
Remove Old Mortar
The first step is to remove old mortar. Simply removing already cracked and loose mortar is not sufficient. Use a hammer and chisel, followed by a small angle grinder, to remove at least an inch mortar. Additional mortar should be removed if it is loose. Avoid damaging a brick during this process.
After the mortar has been removed wash out the joints to remove any dust in the joints. Wear safety goggles and a dust mask during the entire mortar removal process.
Placing New Mortar
Once the mortar joints have been cleaned it is time to mix the mortar. Follow instructions provided with the mortar to create a mix with peanut butter like consistency and enough stickiness to cling to an upside down trowel.
Unless the entire building is being pointed an effort will have to be made to match the colour of the existing mortar. Experiment with the ratio of sand and mortar.
Filling the mortar joints is the next step to brick pointing. The goal is to tightly pack the mortar into the joints with no voids or open spaces.
Deeper joints, more than three quarters of an inch, should be filled in two stages. Fill partially with mortar and allow it to dry. Once the first layer of mortar has dried to the point a finger pushed into the mortar will not move the mortar but will leave only a fingerprint add another layer of mortar.
Brick pointing projects should be done in small pieces. After the mortar has been placed and allowed to partially dry it should be finished. A trowel that will give a similar finish to the existing mortar joints should be used.