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Old 03-30-2009, 12:06 AM   #16
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Repointing brick on front steps


We bought our mid-Hudson Valley Cape in fall and today discovered the prior owner's poor repair job failed. Cleared out the crumbs and shored up using a paver I found behind shed (coincidence it fit?), and have covered it all with a Hefty bag to keep out elements temporarily. Front door is only used by the rare door-to-door type, but I'm concerned those three bricks could cave before we repair properly. Similar problem looks evident on other side of steps, too, and I think more's crumbling inside.
1) Gruntman - how did your repair project go?
2) Ron and others - does it look like we should demolish and start from scratch so we know what we have vs. wondering when it will break down again? I have no experience with this, but my father was a general contractor... dare we try it ourselves?
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:00 AM   #17
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Repointing brick on front steps


From the pictures, it doesn't look too bad. The issue is the same as the original poster. The mortar joints on the top of the stoop are allowing water to get into the bowels of the structure. That's why you don't see this construction anymore.
You can repoint the areas that need it and fill in the the area on the side. Remove as much of the deteriorated cinder block as is feasible before you fill in the area.
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Old 04-24-2009, 07:08 PM   #18
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Repointing brick on front steps


Update: The weather got warmer so I decided to begin this project. I have been grinding all day. Which by the way is the coolest part of this job.

I just looked at the work I did yesterday and its crumbling apart. Any thought s abouit what I might have done wrong?

Last edited by gruntman; 04-27-2009 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 04:50 PM   #19
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Repointing brick on front steps


Any suggestions? I used Quickrete on the mortaring job and it looks like it just dried out and its not hardening.

Last edited by gruntman; 04-28-2009 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:41 PM   #20
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Repointing brick on front steps


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Hi Ron,
Do you have any suggestions? I used Quickrete on the mortaring job and it looks like it just dried out and its not hardening.
How did you apply the mortar? Can you take a picture? Maybe your joints are still too thin, or your brick are "suckers".
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:12 PM   #21
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Repointing brick on front steps


Whats a sucker? I made some mortar just to get an idea of what it would be like to to the job and did a few of the steps. I found some Quickrete mortar in my garage from the previous owner and thought I'd give it a try because it was free. The gaps are wide enough to get one of those tuckpointing tools in the cracks. The are about a half inch deep - as far as that cutting blade would let me go. After a day I could break it apart with my car key. I just washed it out with a garden hose.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:45 PM   #22
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Repointing brick on front steps


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Whats a sucker? I made some mortar just to get an idea of what it would be like to to the job and did a few of the steps. I found some Quickrete mortar in my garage from the previous owner and thought I'd give it a try because it was free. The gaps are wide enough to get one of those tuckpointing tools in the cracks. The are about a half inch deep - as far as that cutting blade would let me go. After a day I could break it apart with my car key. I just washed it out with a garden hose.
A sucker is a very dry, porous brick. The Quikcrete was probably bad from sitting in a moist area too long. Tuckers/fillers are made in all kinds of sizes from 3/16" to 1 1/2", at least that I've seen. Go back & re-read what I recommended for mortar on the last page & try that.
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:55 AM   #23
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Repointing brick on front steps


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Whats a sucker? I made some mortar just to get an idea of what it would be like to to the job and did a few of the steps. I found some Quickrete mortar in my garage from the previous owner and thought I'd give it a try because it was free. The gaps are wide enough to get one of those tuckpointing tools in the cracks. The are about a half inch deep - as far as that cutting blade would let me go. After a day I could break it apart with my car key. I just washed it out with a garden hose.
To do all that labor to clean out the mortar joints and then use a bag of mix thats been sitting in the garage for who knows how long is idiotic.
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Old 04-28-2009, 04:05 PM   #24
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Repointing brick on front steps


You just switch to decaf Ron? Thanks Jo, didnt realize mortar had a shelf life.
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Old 04-28-2009, 06:11 PM   #25
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Repointing brick on front steps


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You just switch to decaf Ron? Thanks Jo, didnt realize mortar had a shelf life.
Gruntman, everything has a shelf life, especially items that are moisture sensitive. It just makes no sense using old material that cost $12.00 to replace on a job like this.
Next time I would research the entire project before starting it, to avoid similiar mistakes.
This is a typical homeowner characteristic, to take the DIY money saving endeavor and contaminating the end result due to cheaping out. Sometimes out of lack of knowledge and sometimes due to extreme penny pinching.
I really don't like decaf.
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Old 04-30-2009, 08:36 PM   #26
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Repointing brick on front steps


Im almost finished with this job. What is the best way to remove some of the mortar residue from brick?
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:28 PM   #27
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Repointing brick on front steps


Let the mortar cure for at least 4 weeks. Then try a solution of 50% water with Muriatic acid. Put on a pair of goggles and rubber gloves before you open the muriatic acid. Be sure not to breathe in the fumes either. first pour water into a 5 gallon bucket, then add the muriatic acid. Use a stainless steel brush, avoid the mortar joints. Rinse with a hose. Repeat if necessary.
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Old 05-09-2009, 08:42 PM   #28
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Repointing brick on front steps


My MIL's steps are in rough shape too
I'm going to have to patch them until she can have/decide on new steps
Plus install a new side door to the garage
Paint the trim on the garage
Weed the gardens again - bittersweet vines & other junk
Looks like a weekend down there
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:09 AM   #29
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Repointing brick on front steps


Here is what it looks like so far. Thanks for the tips for cleaning the brick.

Another problem I have encountered is that some of the joints are very tight. I cant get mortar in there with out it looking like a mess. Does anyone have any suggestions?
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Repointing brick on front steps-img_5566_1.jpg   Repointing brick on front steps-img_5567_1.jpg   Repointing brick on front steps-img_5568_1.jpg   Repointing brick on front steps-img_5569_1.jpg  
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:22 AM   #30
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Repointing brick on front steps


I use a caulking product called "Vulkem"(Home D carries it), between incompatible materials ie wood/thresholds that butts up to concrete or metal to wood or even between stucco and cement. This is because they contract and expand at different ratios or the cement slabs will drift away from foundations. You can apply masking tape along the left and right sides of the joints to prevent smearing Vulkem on the finished surface.

Otherwise, the tight fit between brick and what appears to be colored cement could be remedied by using a cutting wheel in your grinder and shaving off the end of the brick wide enough to accept mortar.

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