How To Tuck Point Chimney
Tuck pointing is the removal of old cracked and deteriorating mortar from a brick chimney or wall and replacing it with new mortar.
- Mason's Chisel
- Mason's Trowel
- Jointer Tool
- 4 1/2" Grinder
- 4 1/2" Cutting Wheel
- Spray Bottle
- Plastic Bucket
- Tuck Pointing Mortar
- N95 Dust Mask or Respirator
- Safety Glasses
VIEW /BUY TUCK POINTING TOOLS HERE
Removing Old Mortar
It is possible to remove old mortar using just a hammer and chisel, but it will take a long time and may loosen some bricks in the process. A better option is to use an electric grinder equipped with a diamond cutting wheel to remove mortar from the joints.
Move the grinder horizontally making one pass at the top of the joint then a second pass at the bottom of the joint. A third pass removes most of the mortar remaining in the joint.
To remove mortar from the vertical end joints use a hammer and mason's chisel instead of the grinder. Tapping the chisel just hard enough to break the mortar, start at the bottom of the vertical joints and work up the joint until it is clear of mortar.
After the old mortar is removed use a garden hose and lightly spray out the joints being careful not use too much water (you don't want to run the risk of water getting into your home). Once the joints have dried use compressed air to blow-out the remaining dust and debris. If you don't have an air compressor you can use a small stiff bristle brush or similar tool.
Adding Mortar to the Joints
I wasn't sure which type of mortar to use for tuck-pointing I so I went to my local Home Depot and had them suggest the correct mortar. They suggested Quikrete #1102. For best results follow the directions on the bag. I recommed mixing smaller amounts of mortar as it will dry out fairly quickly on a warm day. I use 5 or 6 scoops of mortar mix in a 5 gallon pail then add water just until the mortar is a consistency that could be squished into the joints. If the mortar is too dry it crumbles. If it's too wet it will sag in the joint and probably crack when it drys.
Additives to the mortar can improve adhesion to the bricks and the strength of the repair.
You can buy specialized tools for every aspect of the job but I found that I could save money using tools I already had like a rectangle straight-edge trowel held upside-down to hold the mortar and a v-shaped mason's trowel to work the mortar into the joints.
Before adding the mortar to the joints mist the joints with water from your spray bottle, not so much so that there isn't standing water but enough so that the joint is damp. When inserting the mortar start with the vertical joints and work the mortar far into the joint. If the joint is excessively deep you may want to insert the mortar in two layers letting the first layer dry slightly.
To add mortar to the horizontal joints hold the rectangle trowel (holding the mortar) slightly into the joint and push/squish mortar into the joint. When it fills up grab a little more mortar and lift up towards the top of the joint then move the rectangle trowel away from the joint and pull some of the mortar down towards the bottom of the joint. This should produce a mortar filled joint that is slightly concave. After the mortar has set-up a little come back with a jointer tool and smooth everything out.
If the mortar becomes dry (in your pail) use the spray bottle of water to add some water to it. Also, if the mortar sticks to your jointer tool misting the jointer tool with water from the spray bottle makes it easier to work mortar in the joints.
For better adhesion of the mortar to bricks and durability of the repair there are additives you should consider adding to the mortar. Your local home supply store rep should be able to help you choose the right product.
Purchase a disposable paint suit and respirator to wear while grinding out the old mortar. Grinding creates a lot of dust that you don't want to wear or breathe.
If your repair will be highly visible to passersby you may want to remove any excess mortar or mortar that gets on to the brick face using diluted muriatic acid and a wire brush. I chose not to because my chimney is mostly hidden and from the ground the repair looks fine.
Lay down some plastic around the chimney or wall you are working on to catch the mortar that falls out as you insert it into the joint. This preventative measure will make clean-up fast and easy.
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