Everything You Need to Know About Tuckpointing, From Cost to Benefits

Kyle Schurman
Written by Kyle Schurman
Updated March 24, 2022
woman having coffee and using laptop in the kitchen
Photo: Lumina Images / Tetra images / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Replaces worn-out mortar with fresh mortar

  • Adds an artistic finishing look 

  • Creates clean mortar lines on a brick structure

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If you love the charm and warmth of natural brick, but dislike the idea of how it looks as it ages, brick tuckpointing is the solution. Tuckpointing takes your grayish, crumbling mortar between the bricks and replaces it with fresh mortar and a fresh look. The transformation is stunning, leaving you loving your brick wall or chimney again.

What Is Tuckpointing? 

Tuckpointing involves replacing old, worn mortar with fresh mortar. It then goes one step further by adding a contrasting color between the bricks, creating beautiful, clean lines. This process adds both an aesthetic benefit and a structural benefit to the brick.

When you have a brick wall or chimney, the brick itself will last for several decades. However, the mortar between the bricks will crumble and discolor after a couple of decades, necessitating replacement. 

Benefits

The full tuckpointing process delivers three primary benefits to the brick layout.

  • Aesthetics: Having fresh, light-colored mortar lines beautifully offsets the dark-colored bricks, delivering an eye-catching finish.

  • Strength: Fresh mortar helps support the weight of the bricks, preventing a weakening of the wall or chimney.

  • Moisture barrier: The new mortar creates a seal between the bricks, keeping moisture out and preventing thaw-and-freeze cycle damage.

How Tuckpointing Works

Woman repairing mortar on an exterior brick wall
Photo: kjerulff / E+ / Getty Images

If you hire a mason in your area to do your tuckpointing job, it will require several steps to create the clean lines that turn the brick structure into a desirable focal point that you’ll love to see. 

  • The mason will grind out the current mortar, including both crumbling mortar and solid mortar.

  • Next, they’ll mix a new batch of mortar, adding colorant to match the existing brick color.

  • After this, the mason will add the mortar to the now empty spaces between the bricks.

  • As the mortar begins to firm up, the mason will take a tuckpointing tool and cut a straight groove in the brick-colored mortar.

  • They will then add new mortar into the groove, using a color that contrasts to the color of the bricks to deliver the easily visible lines between the bricks.

What Is the Difference Between Repointing and Tuckpointing?

Even though some people use these terms interchangeably, repointing is the process of repairing damaged mortar between bricks

Tuckpointing also repairs the mortar, but the process adds a desirable visual element that generates perfectly straight and clean mortar lines.

How Do You Know if You Need Tuckpointing? 

If the mortar is crumbling, you definitely need to repair the mortar. Have a chimney sweep or a mason inspect your brick structure to determine whether the mortar needs replacing. You then can choose whether to do tuckpointing as part of this repair process.

You also could undertake tuckpointing on a chimney or brick wall where the mortar is in good shape if you simply want to receive the aesthetic benefit of this process. 

Why Is Tuckpointing Needed on Chimneys?

If a home has a brick chimney, it’ll have you envisioning warm winter nights snuggled up in front of the fireplace even before you step inside. 

But when that chimney begins to show its age with crumbling mortar, it makes the home seem older than it is. It also could indicate a structural problem with the chimney.

  • Crumbling mortar allows moisture between the chimney’s bricks, causing premature breakdown.

  • A leaning chimney could collapse onto the home’s roof, causing significant damage.

  • As the chimney crumbles, it could block the air flowing out of the chimney, causing a backup of poisonous carbon monoxide in the home if you use the fireplace.

You certainly could simply replace crumbling mortar through a repointing process. You don’t have to do tuckpointing if you want to save some money. However, tuckpointing will provide that extra pop to the look of the chimney that replacing the mortar alone simply cannot match.

How Much Does Tuckpointing Cost? 

Tuckpointing is a job that typically requires a mason who undergoes several years of training to do this type of brick work. This is a highly difficult job to do on your own without some guidance from a mason. It’s also a highly labor-intensive job, driving up the cost.

The cost of a tuckpointing job will range between $500 and $2,500 for a 10-by-10-foot section of brick. You may pay in the upper end of the range for a chimney or a tall wall where the mason must go up and down a ladder frequently.

If the brick needs repairing before the mason can tackle the tuckpointing job, this will generate additional cost. The cost for brick wall repair when hiring a mason is about $20 to $40 per square foot of repaired brick.

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