Industry Standards for Repointing of Masonry Walls

There is a procedure to be followed when it comes to restoring historical or heritage masonry so it lasts and retains its beauty. A large component of a brick or stone wall is the mortar that binds its units. For this reason, poorly executed mortar repairs immediately become a visual distraction, much like a bad note can wreck an otherwise beautiful musical arrangement.  

Furthermore, our collective heritage of masonry structures is in limited supply, as we're no longer building using traditional methods; and so incorrect repairs carried out on soft, porous masonry assemblies by masons inconversant in widely accepted preservation methodologies factually constitute an often irreversible damage to these heritage structures; a deed which, by the way, is punishable by law in Great Britain -- an interesting fact that one may wish to keep in mind.

Below, you'll essentially find a PowerPoint presentation which illustrates how one is to proceed, should he or she attempt to carry out a repointing project, whether it be historic or otherwise -- information which makes up a substantial portion of the knowledge base a conservator should possess in his or her repertoire. Following these guidelines should complement, but not supplant, the need for artistic judgment in our opinion:)

 --Click on the first image on the left of the strip to open the full-size viewer.

Basic Terminology

 Lastly, here are some definitions relevant to mortar replacement work.

 "Jointing" refers to the process of finishing the joint as the brickwork is erected. Jointing is what all bricklayers do today.

"Pointing" denotes the placement and careful tooling of a mortar joint between bricks or stones. In contrast to jointing, pointingwas the process of raking back the mortar joint a few days after the completion of the brickwork and was usually done by a different crew that was skilled in delivering a high-quality, consistent decorative finish to the joint. Also, jointing was generally performed at the rear and sides of a building, with only the front façade being pointed.

"Repointing" refers to replacing a mortar joint when it has failed, on average perhaps once a century or so. This is typically the type of restoration work performed on older mortar that we are referring to on this web page.

"Tuckpointing" is a style of pointing, particularly decorative and which predominantly consists of a raised ribbon of mortar applied in a rigidly symmetrical fashion. You can see abundant examples of tuck pointing in Cabbagetwon, and even in the Annex, Rosedale, Weston Village, and in those portions of Toronto that were built before the 1890's, for the most part.

--Please contact us if you would like additional documentation.