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How to remove mortar from a brick wall

Updated February 21, 2017

Removing mortar from a brick wall is not a difficult process. This is the first step you will undertake if you plan on tuck-pointing the house. This is when you replace the mortar. To remove the mortar, you will need a couple of simple tools. The mortar chisel is intended to remove the large portions, and the mortar brush is a steel-toothed brush that is intended to reach into the gaps and remove the mortar that is in the back.

Locate the areas where you wish to remove the mortar. These will be areas where the mortar is cracking or falling out. Some may not be seen without close examination.

Chisel out the first inch of mortar with the chisel and hammer. Do not go too far into the brickwork with the chisel. This will cause the bricks to split and leave you with a bigger problem. Only go into the mortar half way.

Use the mortar brush to remove the remaining mortar. Insert the brush between the gaps in the bricks and vigorously move the brush back and forth.

Vacuum the gaps with a shop vac, to remove all of the dust and excess mortar debris. Visually examine the gaps to see if there are any bits hanging from the tops or bottoms of the bricks. Remove them with the chisel or brush.

Tip

For larger projects, you can rent a masonry router at a home store.

Things You'll Need

  • Masonry chisel
  • Hammer
  • Mortar brush
  • Shop vac
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About the Author

Philip Powe started writing in 1987 for St. Louis area newspapers. He has since written for "St. Clair County Historical Society Journal" and the "American Association of State and Local Historians Journal." Concentrations are in home and garden, philosophy and history. Powe holds a Master of Arts in intellectual history from Southern Illinois University.