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Old 03-14-2009, 02:11 PM   #1
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Repointing brick on front steps


This Boston winter has taken a toll on my front steps. In some places all that is left between the brick is sand. In other places it looks like someone has used diffent kinds of mortar or cement to repair the steps. Im pretty handy, Id like to save some money, and I have read about repointing. The house is 50 years old. Any thoughts from the group about what kind or mortar to use or other suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks,
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Repointing brick on front steps-img_5551.jpg   Repointing brick on front steps-img_5550.jpg   Repointing brick on front steps-img_5552.jpg  

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Old 03-14-2009, 04:15 PM   #2
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Repointing brick on front steps


This stoop is in bad shape. It's been in need of a major overhall for years but has been subjected to half assed repairs time and time again.
I'd have it redone with a bluestone cap stone to minimize the joints.
If you think you can improve it, go ahead.
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Old 03-14-2009, 05:52 PM   #3
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Repointing brick on front steps


As a mason, I've rebuilt a lot of projects like this. Unfortunately, in a freeze/thaw climate like yours, the details are extremely important in the installation of wet-set brick horizontally. Solid brick/pavers are very hard to lay always because there is no where for excess mortar to go but down the face of your work. I tried talking a very meticulus carpenter thru this process once, & he wasn't very happy with his result.
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:46 PM   #4
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Repointing brick on front steps


Thank you Ron. I appreciate the suggestion. I was digging away at it a few minutes ago and some part s were solid while other parts were totally sand. The bluestone you mentioned...would I need to have someone rebuild the entire porch first - demolish the brick and start over?
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Old 03-14-2009, 07:51 PM   #5
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Repointing brick on front steps


Thanks Jo,
Some people recommend that to do a job like this you need to use a grinder to remove about an inch of the old mortar and then fill in with the new mortar. That seems like a heck of a lot of man-hours of work.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:00 AM   #6
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Repointing brick on front steps


Quikrete has a how to on this.
Oh and DIY.
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I tear things down and build them up.
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:54 AM   #7
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Repointing brick on front steps


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Thank you Ron. I appreciate the suggestion. I was digging away at it a few minutes ago and some part s were solid while other parts were totally sand. The bluestone you mentioned...would I need to have someone rebuild the entire porch first - demolish the brick and start over?
You need a solid base to lay the stones on. Look around the neighborhood. I'm sure you will see this construction on the updated staircases.
If you start pulling this thing apart, more then likely you will find that the base in some areas is also mush.
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Old 03-15-2009, 12:12 PM   #8
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Repointing brick on front steps


Brick steps are usually not a good idea. They are usually not built correctly in the first place and they are hard to maintain especially in cold climates. I have repaired many brick steps and I never give any type of warranty. Each set of steps are different and you can not tell what is wrong with them until you open them up. Just by the pictures it looks like you have a good amount of water getting into the steps and I would not be surprised if you need a total rebuild. I would consider going with concrete steps.
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Old 03-16-2009, 06:51 AM   #9
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Repointing brick on front steps


I looked at a couple of stoops in my neighborhood. Some have a big slab on top (Im assuming in bluestone) and brick underneath. In some cases it looks like their bricks are in as bad shape as mine. As you can see, it not all brick - does the bluestone meet up with the concrete on top? and will I have the same problem I had with the bricks?
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Old 03-16-2009, 08:15 AM   #10
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Repointing brick on front steps


Check out this picture.
www.bongiornos.net/masonry-3.htm
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Old 03-16-2009, 09:22 AM   #11
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Repointing brick on front steps


ronnie, nice job ! ! !

restorative work & repointing's our work,,, we'd suggest replacing the steps,,, whatever masonary products you eventually select, a coat of silicone siloxane 6mos after building would be good protection.
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Old 03-18-2009, 07:53 PM   #12
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Repointing brick on front steps


If I give this a shot myself (nothing to lose) how can I clean the old mortar off the brick?
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:31 PM   #13
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Repointing brick on front steps


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Originally Posted by gruntman View Post
If I give this a shot myself (nothing to lose) how can I clean the old mortar off the brick?
- A 4" grinder with cheap diamond blade
- A chisel for the corners the grinder won't fit.
- Alot of patience & perserverance!
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Old 03-19-2009, 06:43 AM   #14
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Repointing brick on front steps


Thanks - I'll try it this weekend (I have a Mason on standby in case this goes south) . Here are 3 more questions:

1). How much of a window of good weather do I need before I start putting in mortar?
2). In places where the space is very narrow between the cement pad and the brick would you grind out anything to make space or just do your best to put some mortar in there.
3). I read alot about the best type of mortar to use on this kind of job. The house is 50 years old. Can I just purchase a mortar mix from HD or Lowes? There is a store near me (National Lumber) that builders more frequently visit. Im not sure I trust the people at HD to steer me right.
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Old 03-19-2009, 09:20 AM   #15
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Repointing brick on front steps


Quote:
Originally Posted by gruntman View Post
Thanks - I'll try it this weekend (I have a Mason on standby in case this goes south) . Here are 3 more questions:

1). How much of a window of good weather do I need before I start putting in mortar?
2). In places where the space is very narrow between the cement pad and the brick would you grind out anything to make space or just do your best to put some mortar in there.
3). I read alot about the best type of mortar to use on this kind of job. The house is 50 years old. Can I just purchase a mortar mix from HD or Lowes? There is a store near me (National Lumber) that builders more frequently visit. Im not sure I trust the people at HD to steer me right.
1) The brick should be at least 40 degrees when tuckpointing. Use hot water to aid in the mortar set. Mort shouldn't be allowed to freeze for a doy or 2. It should be small enough to cover with an old blanket or the like.
2) Definately grind 3/8" to 1/2" wide minimum if you don't want to patch every year.
3) I personally mix my mort for a project like this from scratch, but I have a shop full of different types. I also ude as much Portland cement as possible, minimum of lime for workability & to control water bleed-out. In your case, for a small amount of mortar needed, I would try this:
1 - 80 bag of Quikrete Type S Mason Mix. (green, yellow, white bag)
1 - 80 bag of mason sand. (not silica)
20-30 pounds of Portland Cement.
6 ounces Bonding Agent (make sure it says Admixture)
You should be able to get all this at a big box store.

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