Tuckpointing Before

Masonry refers to structures made from brick, block, clay, or stone. Although masonry structures are favored for their incredible strength, resistance to natural elements, and enduring longevity, they can develop structural issues over time and eventually fail.

In this article, we’ll discuss what can cause masonry to fail and how you can prevent it from happening.

Issues With Mortar

An outdoor brickwall with several cracks running through the mortar

Mortar cracking is often the first noticeable sign of masonry failure. It’s most often caused by prolonged exposure to harsh weather, subpar construction protocols, inadequate maintenance, or a combination of all three factors. Mortar failure can also result from using the wrong type of mortar mix or mixing the mortar incorrectly.

Moisture & Cracking

When mortar fails, it allows more moisture to penetrate the structure. That water can then freeze and thaw, which causes expansion and contraction, resulting in spalling (cracking, chipping, peeling, etc.) and a progressive loss of structural integrity. Mortar failure needs to be addressed promptly—failure to do so can lead to serious and costly structural damage.

Bonding Failure

Brick pavers and stones must stay firmly connected to maintain the strength of the structure they form. If the bonding agent between them degrades excessively, adhesion is lost. This may result in bulging, flaking, hollow areas, and peeling, all of which require repair to ensure the future safety of the structure.

Foundation & Structural Issues

Foundational settlement or shifting can cause masonry structures to bow, bulge, sag, and degrade. Likewise, earthquakes, tectonic shifting, windstorms, and other natural phenomena can cause a masonry structure to lose strength and fail.

Additionally, corroded angle iron, repetitive freezing and thawing, and/or inadequate anchorage to maintain lateral support can cause a masonry structure to weaken.

A close up of a brick wall with missing mortar, gaps, and some cracking.

Visual Signs of Failure to Look Out For

It’s important to routinely inspect your home for damage. There are various telltale signs of early masonry failure you can identify, including:

  • Spalling (Crumbling, Cracking, Peeling, or Chipped Bricks)
  • Staining
  • Big Water Leaks
  • Widened Joints
  • Dislodged Bricks
  • Fallen Bricks

Preventing & Reversing Masonry Damage

Mortar Restoration

The best way to prevent serious masonry damage is to frequently inspect your structures for the signs listed above. If you notice any of them, it’s critical to schedule professional repairs as soon as possible because these structural issues always worsen with time.

Structural damage and early failure can often be significantly postponed with either tuckpointing or repointing. In tuckpointing and repointing, damaged mortar is replaced with new mortar. The difference between these processes is the fillet used.

Fillets are what strengthen the joints. Tuckpointing is generally more aesthetically pleasing because the fillet used in the process will contrast with the brick used in the structure. Comparatively, repointing uses a fillet similar to the existing brick’s color.

Whether you opt for tuckpointing or repointing, either process must be performed by a masonry repair professional to ensure success. Homeowners who attempt DIY tuckpointing or repointing risk choosing the wrong type of mortar or using an improper mixing technique. A professional will help you save time and money and prevent unnecessary frustration. 

Schedule Professional Masonry Repair Services Today

All Brick is a family-owned and -operated masonry company specializing in new installations, tuckpointing, brick repairs, and more. If you’ve noticed signs of damage in your brick driveway, walls, porches, or other structures, please contact us today to schedule an inspection.

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