The type of joint between bricks affects not only a wall's appearance, but also the mortar's resistance to weather and, in turn, the longevity of the entire wall. Masons employ a variety of trowels, or pointers, to retool, or "point," mortar joints for repair purposes or following initial installation. The types of brick pointing used range from minimal and fast swipes across the joint's surface to detailed, sloping or concave angles within the joint.
A flush mortar joint is neither recessed nor protruding from the wall--the mortar is flat relative to the surrounding surface of the bricks. Flush pointing is typically performed during the installation of the brick wall; after laying a course of brick, the excess mortar is cut, or swiped, away from the brick's surface, leaving a flat mortar joint.
The concave joint, also called "bucket handle," is a rounded mortar joint. This type of pointing forces the mortar to curve toward the wall's interior in a half circle shape. Builders use special pointing trowels and, sometimes, pieces of pipe to create this joint. Because of its sloping curve, a concave joint carries water away from the wall, improving the mortar's resistance to weather.
A weatherstruck joint increases resistance to weather by angling the entire mortar joint outward. A trowel is used to shape the mortar into a slope angle away from the interior of the wall, downward from top to bottom. This method of pointing requires a steady hand to create a uniform, smooth mortar joint.
Raked or Recessed
A raked joint, also called recessed, is flat like the flush joint. A raked joint's unique characteristic is that its surface is recessed in relation to the surrounding bricks. Although the raked joint lends the wall an attractive sense of depth, it allows moisture to accumulate around a mortar joint. Raked joints are considered the least weather-tight of joints.
Tuck pointing is a special masonry technique that uses colour in an attempt to create a seamless connection between brick and mortar. To create a tuck pointed joint, masons recess mortar as courses of brick are laid, returning later to fill the joints with mortar of the same colour as the brick. Tuck pointed joints are typically fashioned in a flush style.