Many of us in Virginia live in historic homes, and we all know that a unique set of problems and interesting “features” can come with that. While older homes are beautiful and have lots of character, it is important to take special care when repairing and restoring them. This is because different building materials and techniques were used in the past, and it may not be your best bet to mix the two (old and new) for a “franken-house.” In particular, brick repointing can be a place where mixing old and new can lead to disastrous results.
What is brick repointing?
Brick buildings are constructed using brick and mortar to create a solid structure. Masonry has been used for centuries, but the materials and techniques have changed over time. While bricks and mortar used to be softer and left with spaces to “breathe,” bricks and mortar now are much harder and take less time to set up. This can become a problem when modern masonry workers try to repair historic homes with brick repointing.
The pointing of the bricks is the external-facing mortar. Time, weathering, and decay will create spaces that can be an entry point for water. If it is not repaired, this can cause major damage to the bricks and the rest of your home. This is where brick repointing comes in. The old mortar is chiseled out and then replaced to create a stronger brick facing with no cracks or spaces. One or more passes will be made with the mortar. We make sure that the new mortar used matches the original mortar as closely as possible. This is important to make sure that they have similar characteristics such as permeability or strength. These are details you can count on from the team at Reliable Waterproofing and Masonry.
Historic Homes and Brick Repointing
In historic homes, bricks are usually softer and the mortar used is lime-based. This mortar takes longer to set up, and it is not widely used because of stronger solutions currently available. However, this is the best option to use for historic homes with soft bricks and current lime-based mortar. If you have a historic home with previous brick repointing and you are currently having problems with cracks, water leaks, or other issues, it may be caused by a mismatch in the mortar.
When the wrong mortar is used to perform brick repointing on historic homes, it can result in disastrous consequences. Modern mortars are very stiff because they are usually used with stiff bricks that have no give. When these mortars are used with historic homes, they do not take into account that the original builders let things “settle” and move with soft bricks and soft mortar. When you place a soft brick with the hard mortar, it can lead to cracks in the walls, gaps, etc. They are simply mismatched. Reliable Waterproofing and Masonry will work to make sure we match your original mortar as closely as possible in permeability and strength. This will assure that your brick repointing job will last for many years to come and not cause any unwanted issues.
If you are experiencing problems with past mismatched brick repointing jobs, please contact us at Reliable Waterproofing and Masonry. We are happy to work with you to restore your historic home to its former glory.