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davidwarner 05-04-2010 05:23 AM

Reclaimed Bricks (repointing) soft?
Hi All,

My home was built in the early sixties with reclaimed bricks and the exterior brick work is in need of repointing.

My problem is that I have read that older bricks are softer and need special morter. I do not know if my bricks are the soft type. Is there a way to tell?

The morter that is there now seems to be regular portland cement type.

I have had a mason over for an estimate and I am happy for him to do the job but he says the bricks are the soft type and that all I need to use is regular morter.

Online articles I have read say that regular morter used with old soft bricks will cause fast deterioation. Currently I have many gaps in the morter, some of the bricks are cracked (like down the middle) and there is some spalding occuring where the surface of some bricks seems to be seprating off (not a lot of this though).

Can anyone please advise?

Thank you

stadry 05-04-2010 05:46 AM

all depends on how old ' reclaimed ' is, doesn't it,,, i'd suggest you find another mason who can tell the difference just to be sure,,, you're correct in your mortar decision but its extremely difficult knowing the difference to anyone who hasn't been involved in the historical restoration of brick structures.

do NOT use today's mortars on old brick,,, you need to use a slaked lime mortar ( google it ) which'll be more forgiving & flexible to the old brick.

age gaps aren't unusual in old mortars & cracked brick's not uncommon, either,,, SPALLING will usually occur if the brickwork hasn't been treated w/silicone siloxane,,, even brick needs help now & then :thumbup:

davidwarner 05-04-2010 06:35 AM


Thanks for the quick replyIs there anyway me as a layperson can test the bricks or things I could look for to help determine if my bricks are the older soft type?

Or what about the original morter? Is it possible to tell if that is the regular portland type? I figure that if it is, it should be safe (or at least no worse) to use the same for repointing.

Also my bricks seem to be a slightly differn't size (9x3.5 inches). Does this help determine their age or consitency?

Tanks again

stuart45 05-04-2010 08:50 AM

It depends on your climate to some extent. If you have a lot of wet weather followed by freezing night time temperatures, a strong cement mortar could damage the bricks.
The chances are that it was built with cement mortar in the 60's.

davidwarner 05-04-2010 08:59 AM

So if cement was used originaly would it be innapropriate to use something differn't to repoint?

I live in Michigan with quite a bit of wet weather and repative freezing/thaw.

What about the bricks with cracks, should I fill these in with caulk or something?

stuart45 05-04-2010 09:09 AM

If the original was cement mortar, I would probably go for a 1/1/6 lime/cement/sand mix. As stated by itsreallyconc a siloxane sealer would help the brickwork. This would allow it to breathe.
A good mason should be able to tell the type of bricks and mortar used.

davidwarner 05-04-2010 09:34 AM

OK, thanks for all comments

stadry 05-05-2010 04:29 AM

NEVER caulk brickwork,,, #1, it looks like hodge-podge & is; # 2, whoever sees it will know whoever did it was an idiot :laughing: or incompetent at the least; # 3, its the wrong mtl !

that's why we have an item call'd ' re-pointing ' !

ps - IF your bricks're the soft 1's, NO diamond grinders w/tuckpoint blades, either !

davidwarner 05-06-2010 01:03 AM


"ps - IF your bricks're the soft 1's, NO diamond grinders w/tuckpoint blades, either ! "
Why not?

stadry 05-06-2010 06:31 AM

because the normal ham-fisted jabonie causes too much damage to the existing brick when you give them power tools,,, IF you're careful, ok - use it,,, it doesn't take long to develope the nec skill & it IS your house :yes: don't forget a mason's brush, water spritzer, & blower, either

stuart45 05-06-2010 06:54 AM

Use a lump hammer and a plugging chisel to be safe. If the joints are soft it should be easy.

davidwarner 05-06-2010 09:56 AM

I don't plan on doing the work myself. I looked in the yellow pages for a mason and was planning on going with this guy except he said he would use normal mortor on my old bricks. He also said he would be useing a grinder on the old morter.

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