Pointing is the process of filling the fascia gaps between bricks in a masonry structure with mortar, a mixture of cement, sand and water. Two categories of tools see use associated with masonry pointing: the tools that help you take out old mortar and the tools that help you put in new mortar. Avoid using electric drills and other power tools to remove old mortar or newer Portland cement because they can badly damage the brickwork.
Removal with chisels, quirks and rakes
Rake out traditional lime mortars, using a spiked object which gets in between the bricks without hacking pieces of the brick off in the process. A sharp chisel is best for this purpose. Flat-bladed quirks are useful for removing soft lime mortar in older houses. Only the handle can be wider than the narrowest point of the gap between the bricks, or the quirk can get stuck during mortar removal and cause damage to the surrounding masonry. Use a rake to remove old mortar to repoint old structures that have crumbling or missing sections of lime mortar due to weather erosion or structural movement. Rake out old joints to no more than 10 mm (3/8 inch) for best results.
Once you have removed the matured mortar and dusted it off, the surface is ready for repointing. You can introduce fresh mortar, which should have the consistency of malleable putty, into the crevices between bricks, using a pointing trowel. This type of trowel is special because it enables you to press the mortar deep inside the crevice to create a strong seal against future water penetration. Each tool needs to fit the relevant crevice, so you can find different sizes in hardware shops.
Pointing irons are also known as "jointers" because of their function and special shape. They have a trowel-like appearance, with a flat blade and wood handle, but the blade has a markedly different shape, resembling a zigzag on its side. They are different than pointing trowels because they are suited to applying mortar into larger crevices in, for example, rubble stone walls and wider gaps in some brick walls. Craftsmen commonly use jointers for what is known as "fine" masonry applications. Use an NHBC recommended iron, like the "Pointmaster," which has a choice of 8 and 10 mm (5/16 and 3/8 inch) wide square-faced recessed irons.
Stiff churn brushes
Initially, mortar is pliable and malleable, but as time goes on during construction work, the mortar begins to dry and harden. Moisture within the mortar mix is absorbed by the masonry itself, which is how the two bond together. However, this means the mason or bricklayer will have an increasingly difficult time pushing it into place, so they need special tools as the mortar changes consistency. A stiff churn brush can help make the new mortar blend in with older work if you tap it against the drying mortar surfaces.
Delivering mortar with an automated pump speeds up the initial process of getting mortar into the joints in the correct consistency, but all jointing must be finished off with hand tools to achieve the desired, neat, waterproof surface. Additional time must be added for operating and disassembling the equipment and for cleaning surfaces which received unwanted mortar coverage. Large construction projects may benefit from knowing about this option. Some pumps have capacities of around 0.57 cubic metres (20 cubic feet).
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