Red Brick Tooling Techniques

Written by shane grey
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Red Brick Tooling Techniques
The inconsistency of this wall's tooling illustrates the difficulty of creating weather pointed joints. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Brick masons refer to the process of tooling red brick mortar joints as "pointing." Properly pointing a joint prolongs the entire brick structure's life; a pointed joint sheds water and prevents the mortar from deteriorating and the bricks from loosening. Masons use a simple set of hand tools to press and shape mortar into the joints between red bricks. Each type of mortar joint has individual characteristics, advantages and disadvantages; learn about their differences and choose the right one for your brickwork.

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Raking a red brick mortar joint recesses the mortar on a parallel to the finished brick surfaces. The variance in depth between the red brick surface and the mortar joint creates not only a clean appearance but also adds an aesthetically appealing sense of dimension to the structure. Despite its attractiveness, raking produces one of the weakest mortar joints. The raking technique results in an exposed upper edge of each red brick; the edge acts as a ledge, catches and holds water and contributes to the deterioration of the mortar and overall joint. Although many masons use a specialised jointing tool called a rake jointer to create a raked joint, you may also use a flat-ended piece of wood to tool a raked joint.

Flush Pointing

As suggested by its name, the flush mortar joint rests even, or "flush," with the red brick wall's face. Unlike other types of pointing, flush pointing occurs during the brick laying process, usually immediately after the mason finishes laying each course of brick. While the flush pointed joint does not offer a ledge to hold water like the raked joint, the flush joint's mortar is merely wiped away, not compressed and subject to penetration by water. The flat, finished appearance of a flush joint pointed wall appeals to some homeowners while others consider its appearance bulky. To create a flush joint, a mason typically "strikes," or wipes, the flat edge of a trowel across the newly laid joint's surface.

Weathered Joint Pointing

The weathered joint pointing technique produces one of the most durable red brick mortar joints. Recessed at the joint's top portion and flush with the wall's face at the bottom, the weathered joint angles downward to shed water away from the wall. Because a portion of the joint is recessed, many consider the weathered joint moderately attractive. To tool a weathered joint, a mason presses the tip of a pointed trowel into the wet mortar joint. The mason angles the trowel's edge downward and draws the tool through the joint. Creating weathered joints of consistent depth requires a steady hand and considerable skill.

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