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Old 09-13-2013, 02:14 PM   #1
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Problem: Two end of driveway brick pedestals clearly in need of fresh tuckpointing.

What I Did:

* Used DeWalt Angle Grinder with the tuckpointing wheel to clear out old stuff on the horizontal parts.

* Used an air compressor powered hammer chisel to help, (CAREFULLY), with the horizontal. I know this isn't recommended, but it was taking forever by hand and in the end I only did a little damage to one brick in an out of the way place.

* Cleaned up with good ole' hammer and chisel.

* Used a mix of 80% type N and 20% type S mortar. (Had this lying around and this gave me enough. Figured making the type N just a little stronger couldn't hurt. I've no idea what kind of mortar was in there originally, but it's not a big giant building or anything; just some driveway pedestals.

Below are some before and after pictures. (At least for the first one, I still have to do the other.) As you can see, it's kind of sloppy. This is probably a combination of not having the mortar the perfect consistency for application, simple lack of skill in putting it in, and not having right tools for clean up. I didn't have any muriatic acid on hand, which I understand is dangerous and messy to work with, but the best to clean off excess mortar. I guess I'll have to get some and clean up.

The other thing I learned, (again, quite helpfully afterwards), is that I probably should have had the mortar 'pre-wet' and let it set up a bit, then add more water to make it wetter than I had it. After wetting the crevices, it seemed to hold in well, but also seemed to set up too quickly. So I didn't take the tuckpointing tool to it quickly enough and it's all a bit flatter than I'd have wanted.

Before:


After:


Full view of first one. Doesn't look quite AS bad from a bit of distance, but still, will have to do better on second one. (Or... intentionally make about the same for consistency if I can't clean this one up a bit.)


Just some lessons learned in case it helps anyone! Bottom line is I may have helped save this from falling apart and further erosion for awhile, but it' ain't real pretty. As with so many things, the guys on YouTube make it look easy.

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Last edited by Scottg; 09-13-2013 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:43 PM   #2
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Try using a masons bag, it gets a whole less on the brick.
Works like a pastry bag.

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Old 09-14-2013, 07:12 AM   #3
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


In my opinion you've done a great job saving the old brick pedestal. We'll be waiting to see the second completed.
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Old 09-14-2013, 07:46 AM   #4
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Looks good to me. If you want and are able to cut a drip edge on the underside of that cap all the way around. Will break water tension and prevent some water from running down the face.
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Old 09-14-2013, 09:45 AM   #5
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


yeah, the masons bags work well. and they can be cleaned and reused.

i am thinking that a power washer, and CAREFULLY aiming it, will do a good and fast job of cleaning that up.
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:17 PM   #6
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


A better option than weakening the mix by throwing more water at it than it needs would be to break your work up and get to the joints before they harden too much. Point only a couple rows at a time, however much takes you about 15 or 20 minutes. Let it get 'thumb print hard', then go back and tool the joints. Don't try to do too much at once before you go back over it. I know in my first attempt that was one of the reasons I ended up with some stained brick and a few joints not exactly like I wanted them.

I have seen much worse jobs by first time DIY-ers. Guy down my block has whole patches of brick on one of his porch columns completely covered in mortar

Also, in a small column I don't think you would do any harm by adding type S. But you should know that if you ever do it to your house or any other significant weight bearing structure, stronger is not better. No matter what, that structure will move and some some part of it will deteriorate over time. You can never avoid that. When it does, you want the mortar to crumble. You don't want bricks to start cracking apart. This principal is why there are stone and brick structures from centuries ago still standing today. The compressive strength of the mortar doesn't preserve them, the lack of it does.

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Old 09-14-2013, 12:43 PM   #7
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Quote:
Originally Posted by eharri3 View Post
A better option would be to break your work up and get to the joints before they harden too much.
I highly doubt the poster is going to remove the mortar he already put in
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Old 09-14-2013, 12:46 PM   #8
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Do not mean break joints apart. I meant, when he does the second column, if he normally tries to point like half one side of the column at a time or something like that he should break that up into smaller stretches. Maybe do two or three rows then go back and get them how he wants them before doing the next ones. It will probably take longer but the joints will look better and he can clean more excess off the brick face before it sets in.

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Old 09-14-2013, 12:52 PM   #9
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Careful application of dilute hydrochloric acid should get the stains off, though try a bit where it's inconspicuous at first (say low down on the inside) - those old bricks look fairly soft.

Alternatively, perhaps leaving it to the winter frost might get them off.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:05 AM   #10
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fix'n it View Post
yeah, the masons bags work well. and they can be cleaned and reused.

i am thinking that a power washer, and CAREFULLY aiming it, will do a good and fast job of cleaning that up.
Tomorrow we're doing the 2nd pillar. So we'll have the hose out, all our toys, the power washer, etc. So we'll give it a go with some basic CAREFUL cleaning and see what happens.

Will also try the mason bag. I had one, but didn't use it. Because, you know, I saw the YouTube vids and how easily the pros do it and thought, "yeah, I'm a DIY'ER baby! and I may be often wrong, but NEVER in doubt!" : )

Great tips from everyone. Thanks. Will see how 2nd one turns out, plus cleaning up first a bit.
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Old 09-15-2013, 12:09 AM   #11
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Quote:
Originally Posted by eharri3 View Post
Do not mean break joints apart. I meant, when he does the second column, if he normally tries to point like half one side of the column at a time or something like that he should break that up into smaller stretches. Maybe do two or three rows then go back and get them how he wants them before doing the next ones. It will probably take longer but the joints will look better and he can clean more excess off the brick face before it sets in.
Yup. I got it. I was trying to do a whole side before going back to tool it. In other words, being a bit lazy. If I do it that way, it probably means not mixing so much mortar in the first place. Which means a couple of more back and forth to mixing. But if that's what it takes to do it properly, that's what the deal will be.

BY THE WAY... THE COOLEST THING HERE is my wife actually likes using the hammer chisel. She won't play with some of the other power tools, but this one seems ok. So at least for some parts, I've got a little help from a surprising source.
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Old 09-15-2013, 08:55 AM   #12
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottg View Post
THE COOLEST THING HERE is my wife actually likes using the hammer chisel. She won't play with some of the other power tools, but this one seems ok.
Be careful what you think is the coolest thing. If you are going to bed one night and notice the rotary drill on the nightstand you know you are in for one hell of an evening.
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:59 AM   #13
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


I would soak the entire column down with water to ensure it's still damp when you are ready to tuckpoint, but not dripping wet. As Tony stated, those brick look very soft, or "suckers" as we call them in the trade. The water will help get any additional dust out as well.

For the column you already tucked, I'd suggest sourcing a safer cleaning agent for soft red brick, like something from Prosoco. And I wouldn't wait too much longer, as it will only be harder to remove. Also, I wouldn't power wash the stained column if it was me, it will be far more likely to have effloresence issues in the future if you do IMO......
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:07 PM   #14
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


End Result:

Been meaning to put this up for awhile. Here's the end result. (You may see a couple of weak spots here. Those were fixed.) This second pillar, as expected, went better than the first; even though I had to fully replace a brick.

Here's the result:


Following are some of the tools I used. Some of this I had; like the air compressor and such. But the expensive Dewalt Grinder I did not have. Even so, based on what it what have cost professionally, (maybe $5 sq foot), which would have been maybe $600 total, we easily came out ahead on tool cost and such; which of course, we now have for the future or could sell on eBay or whatever.



* DEWALT DWE46101 5-to-6-Inch Cutting and Tuck Pointing Dust Shroud Tool Kit (I hooked this to my Ridgid Vac. Key learning: Spend the $11 for the dual bag vacuum bag package. Otherwise, you'll have to replace the filter as it'll be pretty much wrecked.)

* Porter-Cable 6-Gal. 150 psi Oil-Free Pancake Compressor Model # C2002

* Kobalt Air Hammer with Chisels and Air Blower (from an air tools kit at Lowes) Even though we saw some advice not to do this, doing it manually would have taken forever. So we were just careful with this.

* Sledge Hammer and Chisel, (not shown), just to do some clean out that was easier and safer than doing with the power tools.

* TBC "BIG RED" Mixer: Heavy Duty Professional Mixer

* Aluminum Hawk (I don't know brand. I didn't know what this was... but it's the flat thing with a handle you put mortar on and then scrape it into the joints with the trowel or tuckpoint tool.)

* Marshalltown 6 in. Pointing Trowel (from HD)

* Concrete brush(es): Basically just stiff bristled brushes.

* Tuckpointing tool. (This was new to me as well. It's the little metal part with some curves in it to make the mortar a little concave and scrape off excess.)

* Mortar Bag: I found this cumbersome and slow. At least for the horizontal parts. For the vertical, it was useful as it's a challenge to work vertically with the Hawk and Trowel. I've seen guys in the videos just use the tuckpointing tool with mortar from their hand, but I just didn't have a good knack for that.

* Hearing/Eye/Dust Protection: Not all shown, but we used basic N-95 masks cinched up tight. The hearing protection is basically a pair of shooting ear muffs. We also used Nitrile gloves, (lightweight medical gloves).

* A couple of buckets. We used old Joint Sand buckets for the mortar, which we just dumped at the dump when done. Not worth the trouble to clean up.

* We used Sakrete Type N mortar, but as we started to run out, we added a little bit of old Sakrete Type S that we had. So it was maybe an 80/20 mix of N to S. This isn't heavy load-bearing brick here. I've no idea what the old mortar was, but the consistency seemed about right. Time will tell of course.

I think that's it. It took us all in maybe 10 hours or so. (Probably more like 12 as we were slow. : ) About half was to do the grinding out and clean up of old mortar, and half putting in the new stuff.

It really is a royal PITA, but... if you're doing DIY I guess it's because one likes to feel the accomplishment, (which we do), and save some $$$, (which we did). (And, as mentioned, I end up with more fun tools.) : )

Thanks for advice.
Scott

Last edited by Scottg; 09-25-2013 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:02 PM   #15
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Lesson(s) from an Average - at Best - Tuckpointing Job


Excellent - in fact you made the concrete cap look - well, how do I say it, uh, uh, not so good. Maybe you can research a way to rub it with a slurry. I once had a co-worker that could do that but it was on a fresher pour.

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