Breathe Life Back Into Your Brick Masonry With Repointing

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Updated December 16, 2021
The exterior of an exposed brick house
Photo: Ursula Page / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • You should repoint your bricks every 20 to 30 years. 

  • Repointing grounds out the old mortar and adds new. 

  • Repointing adds curb appeal and prevents structural damage. 

  • Repointing costs $3 to $15 per square foot.

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Flakey, crumbling bits, and pieces are great for cookies, but not what you want to see when it comes to the mortar holding your brick or masonry together.

When you notice that the mortar between your bricks is doing a disappearing act, it’s time to repoint it. Read on to learn about repointing, and how it can revitalize your brickwork.

What Is Masonry Repointing? 

Masonry repointing is the process of replacing the existing mortar that holds your brickwork together. Repointing improves the structural integrity of your brick and also ups its aesthetic value (because who doesn’t’ love good curb appeal?). During this process, masons use tools like chisels to ground out the old mortar and replace it with new mortar.  

A masonry pro can remove up to one inch of your brick’s mortar—also called the joints of your brickwork. 

A mason should test the joints to know the composition of the original mortar. Lime, hydrated lime, and ordinary cement, are all types of mortar that masons use.

Once the mason has identified which mortar to use, they will begin applying it, creating more robust and attractive joints. The mason will stop when the new mortar is flush with the existing brickwork. Then they mist the mortar (to prevent cracks as it dries) for up to four days before the process is complete. 

Why Is Masonry Repointed?

A worker replacing mortar holding bricks together
Photo: Ingo Bartussek / Adobe Stock

There are two reasons people get their mortar joists repointed: appearance and structural integrity

Appearance

From an aesthetic perspective, there’s nothing attractive about looking at crumbling brick, which is why many homeowners seek to revitalize their masonry. Some choose to repoint for this reason alone. 

Structural Integrity

While your home isn’t going to fall over if your mortar joints aren’t in place, those little voids gradually made over time by wind, rain, sleet, and snow, provide a nice nook for water to enter the home. Water that seeps inside a structure is not a homeowner’s friend. In particular, frost weathering is a problem that can occur. Frost weathering happens when water makes its way into empty or damaged mortar joints. Once inside, they freeze and become ice, expanding and pushing the brick apart. 

How Often Should Masonry Be Repointed? 

While repointing your masonry is an important task not to be overlooked, it’s also one that you will deal with infrequently. The average brick homeowner should repoint every 20 to 30 years. 

How to Prepare for Masonry Repointing

You should prepare for all the dust that comes with removing the old mortar joints. Make sure you have your windows and doors closed. Taking the extra step to add protective plastic sheeting over them will help dust from sneaking indoors.

How Much Does Masonry Repointing Cost 

According to HomeAdvisor, repointing your mortar joints will cost between $3 to $15 per square foot. The bulk of that number (as much as 80%) goes directly to the cost of labor itself.

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