The mortar you see between the individual bricks of a brick wall on your home is known as pointing, and can comprise up to 15% of your home exterior’s overall surface area, says Homebuilding & Renovating. However, even this figure belies pointing’s true importance to your home’s resilience.
As this mortar is your home’s first line of defence against water ingress, it can help guard against damp arising on your interior walls. Hence, there’s a problem if the mortar seems to have eroded…
Brickwork pointing serves various purposes
While mortar can consist of various materials, it will be softer than the individual bricks that it separates – meaning that, over time, the pointing will start deteriorating sooner than the bricks. This is ultimately a good thing, as repointing brickwork is much easier than replacing damaged brickwork.
Therefore, you could call mortar a strategic choice of pointing material for brickwork – especially as this mortar can also fill irregularities on the bricks’ bedding faces. If you see gaps in the mortar joints, these gaps could let rainwater settle on the bricks’ exposed top ledges and seep into the structure.
That, in turn, wouldn’t bode well for the condition of the bricks, in which water could freeze and, subsequently, expand and cause damage, as TheGreenAge warns.
Not all pointing mortar is the same
This is a crucial point to heed, as the wrong choice of mortar could wreak havoc on your brickwork and, ultimately, leave it even worse off than before. Most homes built in the Victorian era and earlier used lime mortar, which should therefore be used in repointing those homes, too.
However, there’s sense in putting lime mortar to the same purpose with newer properties, too. Though the materials you would need to repoint your own walls are unlikely to be out of your financial reach, repointing is time-consuming and, in certain places, potentially awkward. Hence, you might want to ask a builder to complete the task on your behalf.
Unfortunately, that’s where problems can start, as one common mistake with brickwork repointing is using modern cement mortar instead of traditional lime mortar. The former can trap moisture rather than let it harmlessly filter through the mortar joints, as Real Homes warns. Hence, as temperatures cool, the trapped water can freeze, leading the brick’s surface to blow apart.
Does your brickwork currently need repointing?
As a general rule, brickwork ought to be repointed about every 30 to 50 years. However, certain buildings, like those of high altitude or in coastal areas where the brickwork could be hit by significant salt spray from the sea, might need repointing sooner.
If you live in a coastal city like Sunderland, for example, you might want to assess your home’s brickwork pointing relatively soon. Fortunately, professional assistance could be close at hand if repointing is indeed necessary.
For example, Findley Roofing & Building is based in Washington and, therefore, a team of Sunderland roofing contractors who can also check and rectify brickwork pointing that needs attention.