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Old 04-26-2013, 05:47 PM   #1
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Tuck pointing


Pretty soon I'm going to need to do some re-pointing on my building purchased last August. The ca. 1910 brick facade was covered over with this redwood garbage in 1970 when a law firm bought the building and renovated it into offices:




I removed all of that, and boxed in the overhanging structure that was part of the redwood assembly to create an appropriate cornice, the membrane roof fastened to the top face of the redwood so I didn't want to disturb that and this worked well.
I discovered over the door and show windows was a projecting cornice, copper or copper flashed that had been butchered off for the redwood siding, for now the bare board is painted and caulked for weather resistance till I build something for a replacement.

The brick and mortar is all in good condition, but directly over the 6 window is a steel beam, I beam or one or two C channels together more likely, the bottom flange can just about be seen in the photo.
about a foot up, the brick across the wall that infills the steel beam and rests on it's flange needs tuck pointing. Circled in red is the area and not a lot of area:






There was also a 3/4" pipe for an electric sign and some awning anchors, all of which can be seen in the photo, and they have been removed and the lag bolt holes need to be patched as does the 1" hole where the pipe was.

I have worked a lot with concrete, slabs, sidewalks, building cement block walls and so forth, but as of yet I have not had to do tuck pointing on a brick wall already up but I don't see any problem with it, what I do want to find out is any suggestions on the specific type/formula of mortar that would be appropriate.
The brick is a very good quality hard face brick, a closer picture of the brick at the top of the wall taken while removing the redwood siding;






I'm not going to try to match up new mortar to old, but if it's close that would be good.
This facade was completely covered over for 43 years, no doubt that's one reason it's in as good condition as it is.

I can get either the bagged mortarmix at Menards, or I can mix up my own, I do have an electric cement mixer and wheelbarrow, so if someone suggests either a ready to use product, or a raw formula that will work well for this, I'd like to hear.


Last edited by RWolff; 04-28-2013 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 04-27-2013, 01:59 PM   #2
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Tuck pointing


It could be lime mortar as it's over 100 years old.

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Old 04-27-2013, 04:55 PM   #3
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Tuck pointing


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Originally Posted by stuart45 View Post
It could be lime mortar as it's over 100 years old.
Yeah hard to say, harder to say if it's been tuckpointed once before, I'm thinking probably not since the facade was totally covered over in 1970 which means it was only exposed to the weather for about 60 years.
I think th elime mortar is pretty soft, maybe if I probe a bit with a screw driver in that area I can get an idea of the mortar's strength and makeup.

The brick inside the rectangular area bordered with glazed bricks are different, it could be there once was a panel made of terracotta, concrete or stone in there with the original name incized or in raised lettering that was removed, or it could be just for contrast.
The building appears to have originally been built to be a furniture store, and indeed in the basement I found a box of wood and metal bedstead brackets used to display bed headboards and footboards together that date to about the same time the building was built.

It could be that was changed up there and any tuck pointing needed done then, let's say maybe the 1930s or 1940s.

We'll see what else anyone comes up with on the mortar.

Last edited by RWolff; 04-27-2013 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 04-27-2013, 06:05 PM   #4
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Tuck pointing


RWolff; are you sure you mean 'tuck pointing'. That was a specific technique of treating the jointing in cheap, rough brickwork where the joints would be quite wide. They would be pointed flush in a colour to match the bricks as near as possible, and then a thin incised line of lime putty would be formed in the middle of the joint. The idea was to make the brickwork look finer (and better quality) than it was.
Your pointing looks like standard work. As Stuart says, it would most likely be lime mortar at that age, though your problem is getting the colour and texture right. Suppliers with local knowledge would best be able to advise.
I suspect you''re right anout the panel. Many turn-of-the-century buildings would often have the proprietor's name up there in terracotta (glazed or unglazed). The pattern now in the panel looks too 'arbitrary' and not in keeping with period.
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Old 04-27-2013, 09:30 PM   #5
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Tuck pointing


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Originally Posted by tony.g View Post
RWolff; are you sure you mean 'tuck pointing'..
Not sure what you mean Tony, I've always just called repairing the joints "tuckpointing" regardless of the final appearance or technique- a general term for scraping, cutting or otherwise removing the old crumbling mortar and replacing it with new mortar, that's the only term for it that I know.

If that's not correct, you obviously know what I meant and what is needed from the photos and text.

Ok, with the lime mortar, I have read that this was used in the old days, but I the typical bags of Quickrete mortar mix you buy at Menards (about MY only option here) seems unlikely to be the right formula as the bags don't specify that it contains lime at all.

The mfr's web site only says this:

Quote:
Use For Construction & Repair of Brick, Block & Stone:

QUIKRETEŽ Mortar Mix (No. 1102) is a blend of masonry cement and graded sand , designed to meet ASTM C 270 for Type N Mortar. Just add water.

Barbecues Pillars Walls Tuck-pointing mortar joints Planters
That begs the question then, about the addition of lime to a bag of that product, or buying Portland cement, sand and that lime and mixing my own.

I searched Menards just now and they show this is available at my local store, so if I get that and portland cement and masonry sand there I can mix my own:

Hydrated Lime Type S



Quote:
As Stuart says, it would most likely be lime mortar at that age, though your problem is getting the colour and texture right. Suppliers with local knowledge would best be able to advise.
I won't worry too much about trying to match color or texture, my main concern is the steel beam behind there being exposed to moisture, and the missing mortar causing a loss of stability of the bricks in front of it.
It looks like there is just one course of bricks set inside the channel of the steel, resting on it's bottom flange. They didn't seem loose but they obviously don't have a lot to hold them in place, so my main concern is getting them good and solid and preventing water from getting in those open joints at the steel behind them.

Quote:
I suspect you''re right anout the panel. Many turn-of-the-century buildings would often have the proprietor's name up there in terracotta (glazed or unglazed). The pattern now in the panel looks too 'arbitrary' and not in keeping with period.
There's 3 or 4 buildings here that have that system with the name, one of them was cemented over and is unreadable, and we agree on the style difference of the brick inside the panel. Behind that is the attic space and the back of the wall is hollow clay blocks, it looked undisturbed/original inside, but then again it's a 6' high attic and there's an odd doubled joist near the rear with cross joists arranged for a large opening as though they constructed a provision to install a staircase there later for an additional floor with the stairs going in there.

Last edited by RWolff; 04-27-2013 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 04-28-2013, 04:47 AM   #6
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Tuck pointing


[QUOTE=RWolff;1168495]Not sure what you mean Tony, I've always just called repairing the joints "tuckpointing" regardless of the final appearance or technique- a general term for scraping, cutting or otherwise removing the old crumbling mortar and replacing it with new mortar, that's the only term for it that I know.QUOTE]
This is a case of 2 people divided by a commom language.
Tuck pointing in the UK means this.


Whereas in the USA it means what is known here as re-pointing.
Luckily I watch Cheers and Dallas so I'm now bilingual.
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Old 04-28-2013, 01:18 PM   #7
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Tuck pointing


[QUOTE=stuart45;1168581]
Quote:
Originally Posted by RWolff View Post
Not sure what you mean Tony, I've always just called repairing the joints "tuckpointing" regardless of the final appearance or technique- a general term for scraping, cutting or otherwise removing the old crumbling mortar and replacing it with new mortar, that's the only term for it that I know.QUOTE]
This is a case of 2 people divided by a commom language.
Tuck pointing in the UK means this.


Whereas in the USA it means what is known here as re-pointing.
Luckily I watch Cheers and Dallas so I'm now bilingual.

Aha! I didn't notice Tony is not in the USA, I see, but if you google tuck pointing, or go to Menards' web site etc what you get is basically the term Tuckpointing being used as a generic term.

So we'll go with the "re-pointing" then for the official term.
I will be re-pointing my wall

IntroductionThe terms pointing, repointing and tuckpointing are often used interchangeably, which has led to confusion within the masonry industry. For years, the Brick Industy Association has discussed what they termed "tuck-pointing" methods in Technical Notes 7F as one form of maintenance of brick masonry. However, the meaning of tuckpointing in one area of the country may be slightly different from that in another area, leading to conflicts regarding job specifications and expected repairs. Consequently, the following definitions of these terms have been developed.

  • Point - to place plastic mortar into joints to correct defects or to completely fill joints in newly laid masonry.
  • Repoint - to place plastic mortar into cut or raked joints to correct defective mortar joints in masonry.
  • Tuckpoint - (1) to point masonry with a flush mortar joint that approximates the color of the masonry units and a mortar of contrasting color that is shaped into a thin strip. (2) see repoint.
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Old 04-28-2013, 02:18 PM   #8
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Tuck pointing


Some say you are not supposed to mix OPC with lime mortars as it defeats the object.
Just add aggregate to the type S lime; the main problem would be colour matching the original, which would depend on the sand used. But as you suggest, best not to get too precious about it - the important thing is to protect the steel.
On one of the pics, you can see the black line corresponding to the flange of the beam. Presumably the rust here has expanded and broken down the original mortar?

Some light reading on lime mortars:

http://ihbc.org.uk/context_archive/5...memortar_s.htm
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Old 04-28-2013, 03:03 PM   #9
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Tuck pointing


Quote:
Originally Posted by tony.g View Post
Some say you are not supposed to mix OPC with lime mortars as it defeats the object.
Just add aggregate to the type S lime; the main problem would be colour matching the original, which would depend on the sand used. But as you suggest, best not to get too precious about it - the important thing is to protect the steel.
On one of the pics, you can see the black line corresponding to the flange of the beam. Presumably the rust here has expanded and broken down the original mortar?
Thanks Tony, I have done some reading and it seems there's 1001 different opinions as I'm learning, some say use

Portland/lime/sand 1:1:9
Type O mortar mix - 1:2:9

And 999 other different combinations, some sans the portland, some not.

From what I've found so far, the type O might be good, or mixing the raw ingredients to that spec or a little more sand, a little less Portland.

Yes, I believe some rust has done that, and seemed to have rotated the bricks a small amount from expansion.

Here's a couple of pictures I shot today from a ladder, the bad mortar only affects 2 lines across, and a couple of spots here and there near are slightly deteiorated. A closer looks seems to show slight differences in mortar color, so I think this was repointed and they did a lousy job and just put the stuff in and left, and it dried out rapidly in the sun and never cured properly.
None of the bricks are loose so it could even be partially a bad mix of mortar or repointing since all the rest of the mortar above and below is strong while this is very soft:






I want to treat that exposed steel flange, prime and paint it.

I'm going to assume the steel is a single or double C channel about a foot high and that the curved decorative brick which rest on the bottom flange also touch the underside of the TOP flange, so that why I feel it's probably about 12" channel, but it could be the upper decorative bricks rest on top of the upper flange, it's not visible.


The design is not a good one, that steel should have been covered, it is possible that these 6 windows with the aluminum frames replaced what was there circa 1953 as it appears some work was done that year and of course the entrance door and windows were all replaced sometime between then and 1970.
The mortar deteioration and this rust were there already behind the redwood siding I removed, it didn't just happen this winter but I want to get it taken care of now before the hot summer weather comes and it's easier to keep the mortar damp for curing.

Getting this closed up properly and keeping an eye on it will tell whether something is going on making it worse or if there are any changes.
It is possible a roof leak at the top before the membrane roof was put on- allowed water down in this area too, there's evidence of old roof leaks inside, it is water tight these days however.


Last edited by RWolff; 04-28-2013 at 03:17 PM.
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