Instructions for Repointing Brickwork

When renovating a home, repointing the brickwork should be a top priority. In homes in need of extensive renovation, missing or damaged mortar is a common source of leaks and a source of damp.

Repointing brickwork entails carefully repacking the mortar that sits between the individual bricks or stone blocks that comprise your home's exterior skin. Although many renovators carry our DIY repointing, given the requirement for working at heights, it may be a job best left to a professional.

Our step-by-step guide below will show you how to achieve a great finish when doing minor repointing yourself.

(MORE: Do It Yourself vs. Professionals)

What Is the Process of Repointing Brickwork?  

The process of renewing the outer portion of the mortar joint that connects the bricks is known as repointing brickwork. If you can see open joints around the mortar bed, it is time to consider repointing.

Mortar is essential because it is the substance that holds individual masonry units (such as bricks or stone blocks) together.  

It keeps water out of the building and is also used to fill any irregularities in the bedding faces of the bricks or blocks (the bedding is the mortar that holds the bricks together). )

Mortar can be made from a variety of materials. Because it is softer than bricks and stone, it will begin to deteriorate at some point during the life of a building — and this is normal.

If the mortar mix was harder than the bricks, the bricks would bear the brunt of the weathering, causing them to erode and fail — and replacing brickwork is far more expensive and time-consuming than repointing brickwork.

How Much Does Brick Repointing Cost?

Repointing is a simple job with inexpensive materials; however, the labor involved in brickwork repointing can be quite expensive.

It can also be difficult to find a builder willing to take on small repointing jobs, which is why many people prefer to do their own repointing. Remember that DIY repointing usually necessitates the hiring of scaffolding.

According to the website Price Your Job (Opens in a new window) , you should budget around £20-£30/m2 for brickwork repointing, with their estimate for a three-bedroom semi-detached house coming in around £3,000 once scaffold hire, materials, and labor are taken into account.

What Mortar Should I Use to Repoint Brickwork?  

When mixing mortar, you can achieve a wide range of textures and colors. Most houses built up to and including the Victorian era used lime mortar, so if yours does, this is the mix you should use.

The use of cement in repointing mixes is generally a bad thing in old houses (though it is still done), causing decay to occur earlier than with lime mixes and damp to be more likely to appear.  

Cement mortars are harder, more brittle, and less porous than lime mortars, and they weather more slowly than bricks.

Mortars containing cement are more prone to salt and sulphate attack, whereas mortars containing only lime (putty or hydraulic) and sand are not.

Lime mortars are more expensive than cement, but in the long run, they can save money because repairing problems caused by improper cement mixes can be costly.

(MORE: Locate a Bricklayer)

Your Step-by-Step Repointing Brickwork Instructions

You will require:

  • Chisel
  • Cement mixer
  • Trowel with a point
  • The mortar board
  • Scaffolding
  • Soft brush
  • Wire brush
  • Lime
  • Sand
  • Cement that is white

This wall's repointing is clearly a top priority. Not only is there a mix of materials, but the pointing profile varies from semi-recessed to plastered-on-top-of, which is not ideal.  

Plants have grown up against the walls, as with many renovation projects, and should be pinned back and then tethered into place before any work can begin.  

Because repointing brickwork is a messy job, plastic sheets should be used to cover flower beds, new paving, and grassy areas.

step by step to repointing brickwork

(Photo courtesy of Homebuilding & Renovating)

The old pointing is removed with a hammer and chisel, taking special care near the areas shown in the next four steps. Disturbing old mortar around windows can have an impact on how they fit (and open).  

The chisel is used solely to chip out loose material.  

3. Concentrate on Doorways


Power cables for external lighting are frequently run inside the pointing, so exercise caution.

If mortar is pushed into the gap between the wall and the frame, the door frame may move, making it difficult to open and close.  

With a narrow chisel, gently rake out loose mortar. Metal gutter brackets are prone to falling out if disturbed during the chopping-out process, so proceed with caution.  

step by step to repointing brickwork

(Photo by Homebuilding & Renovating)

4. Make the Brick Edges Visible

After the old mortar has been removed, the 'brick edges' are what remain. The stone's edge has been revealed all around, and there is now a gap large enough to accept (and hold) the fresh mortar that will soon be applied to the wall.  

After that, there is a lot of dust in the gaps between the stones. This should be gently brushed out before repointing begins.  

step by step to repointing brickwork

(Photo courtesy of Homebuilding & Renovating)

6. Combine the Mortar and Pestle

To ensure that the color of the mortar remains consistent throughout the project, the mix should be carefully measured out. Three buckets of yellow building sand, one bucket of lime, and a quarter bucket of white cement were used in this case.  

Each full bucket is leveled at the top, and a quarter-full bucket of white cement is measured to a line drawn inside the bucket.

7. Begin at the top and work your way down.

Repointing is typically done from the top of the wall to the bottom. However, because the first half-metre of a solid wall without a damp-proof course (as in this case) holds a lot of moisture, this section is completed first, giving it more time to dry.  

The mortar is firmly pushed in, working from right to left.

step by step to repointing brickwork

(Photo courtesy of Homebuilding & Renovating)

Fill in the Virtual Joints

Once two or three courses have been repointed, the vertical joins between are filled too It is worth noting that the mortar is allowed to overlap all of the joints and that no attempt is made to neaten it up at this point.  

The top section of the wall is begun after the bottom half metre is completed. A team of two completes this stage on this 24m2 wall in five hours.  

The mortar is allowed to dry until nearly dry. The drying time is determined by the weather and the position of the house in relation to the sun. In this case, the mortar is ready in just a few hours.

Remove the excess mortar with a wire brush, leaving a face joint that is only slightly recessed from the face of the wall. In other parts of the country, a deeper joint or one flush with the wall may be preferable.  

As it moves across the surface, the wire brush cleans up the stonework.

step by step to repointing brickwork

(Photo courtesy of Homebuilding & Renovating)

10. Examine the Finished Look

A close-up of the completed project The wall not only looks great now that the face joints have clearly defined the stones, but it is also ready to withstand years of weathering.  

Top Tips for Doing Your Own Brickwork

  • Using a narrow chisel around windows and doors reduces the possibility of pushing loose pieces further into the frames.
  • It is best to avoid using an angle grinder because it is easy to slip and damage the face of the brickwork or stone and is unnecessary with most traditional lime-based mortars.
  • Stop raking out and brush the joints down when you have a large enough space for the new mortar. Then, spray the joints with water to help the new mortar dry evenly. Before repointing, allow the water to dry.
  • Attempt to match the color, texture, and durability of the existing mortar. Measure each component of your mortar carefully and keep track of the quantities used to ensure that each bucket load matches the last.
  • Begin at the top and work your way down (to keep dust and water spray away from freshly repointed joints).
  • A slightly open final texture is more appealing than a very smooth one. To accomplish this, gently rub the filled joint with a stick or rubber, then softly brush it over before it dries.
  • To keep the new mortar from drying out too quickly, lightly spray the joints with water from time to time.

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