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amakarevic 01-05-2009 10:56 AM

mortar redoing/tuckpointing
i am getting ready to redo some mortar on my exposed brick wall, the old one is real old and dissipating.

seems like the best way to stuff the new mortar, after the old one has been removed with diamond blades and/or manually, to use some sort of a dispenser, such as a caulk gun or a grout bag for tiles. just applying it with a putty knife of some sort causes a lot of mess on the bricks.

is regular mortar too thick to flow smoothly through a grout bag ? any other suggestions on how to do it most easily ?


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Tscarborough 01-05-2009 12:03 PM

It works fine, but needs to be tweaked a bit. Most prepackaged mortar mixes are a little too sandy, and some lime should be added to make it richer. The tip will also need to be cut a little bigger, and the mix, oddly enough, should be drier than normal. If it is as wet as normal, the sand packs in the tip.

I do about half with a bag, half with a tuckpointing trowel and hawk. The bag is a little faster, but is more work and you have to make and keep your mud just right.

From a hawk, just tuck the joints and leave it alone! Any mortar on the bricks will not be a problem unless you smear it in while wet. Let the bricks suck the moisture out of it for awhile, hit the joints with a jointer, then lightly wire brush them. No mess at all.

amakarevic 01-05-2009 12:31 PM

thank you sir ! what is a "hawk" ? also, i have an aversion towards shake-n-bake mixtures, would prefer to mix my own. are you saying that, if i do not bother remove the excess mortar off brick immediately, it will be easy to scrape it off once dry ?

amakarevic 01-05-2009 12:38 PM

also, how deep do you think i should go removing the old mortar ? i was gonna do it with a grinder and a 4.25" diamond blade so i figure go in as much as it goes, i.e. about 2". will that be enough ?

Tscarborough 01-05-2009 01:30 PM

This is a hawk:

If I am working alone, I can do it faster with the hawk, if I have someone to feed me, I can do it faster with the bag.

You do not let the mortar set before you tool it, you let the masonry absorb most of the moisture. It is a fine line, but once you see it, you will know when it is. If you tool the joint, and there is a sheen on the mortar or it smears, it is too wet still. It should be at the point where the excess crumbles off when you tool it.

Mixing your own is the best, of course. Just do not make it too strong. A Type N or even M, lime rich mortar works best and is recommended.

The depth of the joint should be approximatly it's width or a little more (the wider, the more depth). For a standard 3/8" joint, 3/8 to 1/2 is all you want (that is to say, 3/8" of mortar, not 3/8" deep from the face of the brick).

amakarevic 01-05-2009 03:10 PM

so, tooling it in this context is kind of like finishing concrete, with which i have plenty of experience. you wait until the stuff dries slightly to lose the sheen so that it is firm enough to give it shape but still plenty to be malleable.

i am curious how you use the hawk ? do you lean it directly against the brick and feed the mortar off of it into the grooves or just use it as a palette ?

so, if the joint is 3/8 between the bricks and it is slightly recessed, the depth relative to the face of the brick is 3/8 + however much it needs to be recessed, correct ?

Tscarborough 01-05-2009 03:14 PM

Correct. You put mortar on the hawk, pat it to the approximate thickness of the joint, then cut off ribbons and push them into the joint with a tuckpointing trowel (which is long and sized to the joint) by placing the edge of the hawk into the joint, overfilling a bit. Tooling is done to consolidate and shape the joint.

amakarevic 01-05-2009 03:15 PM

one more question
is it safe for structure to scrub out the old mortar on the whole wall all at a time and then do the tucking or should i go row by row ? i am scared to weaken the structure of the wall so the whole house collapses (this is in the basement and there are two floors above). but otherwise, the house is real solid.

amakarevic 01-05-2009 03:17 PM


Originally Posted by Tscarborough (Post 207472)
then cut off ribbons and push them into the joint with a tuckpointing trowel

what is a ribbon in this context ? i hope just some term for the excess mortar and not another tool or ingredient that goes in ...

Tscarborough 01-05-2009 03:23 PM

Imagine a fat pancake of mortar on the hawk. Using your tuckpointing trowel, slice off a ribbon of mortar slightly bigger than what will fill the joint from the pancake.

amakarevic 01-05-2009 03:30 PM


Originally Posted by Tscarborough (Post 207477)
Imagine a fat pancake of mortar on the hawk. Using your tuckpointing trowel, slice off a ribbon of mortar slightly bigger than what will fill the joint from the pancake.

couldn't have used a better reference than food to describe something to me. all is crystal clear now. will get back in a couple of weeks with pictures.


amakarevic 01-05-2009 05:14 PM

hey Tscarborough - one more question for you: what type of varnish/lacquer should i use to glaze the bricks with at the end ?

Tscarborough 01-05-2009 06:38 PM

Do you want them shiny or just sealed?

amakarevic 01-06-2009 10:09 AM

a little shiny would be nice.

amakarevic 01-06-2009 05:17 PM

also, i found this link:

they are talking about a tool called "joint strike". what is that and do i really need it ?

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