Repointing Your External Brickwork

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Repointing your external brickwork can keep your home warm and dry for another sixty years – possibly far longer than you will be using it! It is also a job that not many builders will take on unless it is for a large project such as renovating an abandoned building.

There is some skill to doing this but with the eight following pointers in mind you should make your home a pleasanter place to live, both aesthetically and internally.

  1. Use a chisel to remove the broken mortar. Aim to take out no more than 2cm depth of the old stuff, unless of course it is rotten beyond.Where it comes to the spaces between the bricks, windows and door frames, use a narrow chisel to remove the old stuff. If you lose some into the cavity this could alter the shapes of the frames and prevent them from opening / closing properly.Make sure the cavities are dust free. If they have dust then the mortar won’t fix to the bricks.

    Do not use an angle grinder as though this is quicker, it could well damage the bricks themselves.

  2. Use a lime based mortar instead of a cement based. While slightly more expensive than the cement based mortar, lime based mortars allow the building to flex and breathe, and you can also match the colour of the old pointing. Lime mortars are also softer than the bricks where cement can be harder. This could result in the bricks weathering back faster than the mortar.
  1. Carefully measure the mix to get the mix right each time. This will affect the final colour of the pointing.
  1. Work from top to bottom. You may need scaffolding to reach higher parts – remember to work carefully at height.
  1. Pack the mortar in with a trowel. When repointing the wall, it doesn’t matter too much if it looks ugly – spread it around and make a mess by all means as long as the gaps are filled with the mortar!
  1. Consider the style of your local area. Is the mortar flush with the walls on other homes or is there a slight indent? Match the pointing to that of your neighbours.
  1. Leave the mortar until it is nearly dry. How long will this be? On a cold and wet winter’s weekend this could be a few days or it could be a few hours on a hot summer’s day!
  1. When nearly dry, take a wire brush to the wall and tidy up the mess you made repointing.