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Repointing & Tuckpointing – What’s the difference?

There are two general types of masonry restoration work, repointing and tuckpointing. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are definite differences between the two that should be understood if either type of work is to be done correctly.

What Is Repointing?

Repointing is defined more specifically as rebuilding or replacing mortar which has deteriorated from age, weather, or other causes. Repointing is usually done around openings in a stone building to prevent water penetration at these weakened areas. The new mortar applied during repointing must closely match the original composition and colour of the old mortar in order to blend in with it. Although some minor deviations may be allowed for corners where masonry joints have shifted slightly, too great a difference can create an obvious visible mismatch.

What Is Tuckpointing?

Tuckpointing is an extra step in the restoration process. It refers to a final layer of coloured mortar being applied to the top of a repoint. This coloured mortar will closely mirror the brick colour, and therefore the mortar line between the bricks will appear very fine. 

Tuckpointing and Repointing Process

The tools and techniques for repointing and tuckpointing are similar.Both require that any deteriorated mortar be removed carefully with a grinder, wire brush, chisel or other tool before new mortar is applied with a small hand trowel. In both cases, sand must be added to standard masonry cement to produce the desired colour match, and the new mortar must be allowed to cure before any water is allowed to penetrate it.

Both repointing and tuckpointing are generally considered standard conservation practices, but each has its own advantages. When done properly, either method can strengthen old masonry walls while preserving their original appearance. A knowledgeable person can usually determine just by looking at a stone building whether or not it has had one of these types of masonry restoration work done on it recently.

When to Choose Repointing

Repointing should be used whenever deteriorated masonry needs to be stabilised without actually removing much of its original material. 

When to Choose Tuckpointing

Tuckpointing may require less removal of deteriorated areas than repointing because tools are used which do not remove as much of the original mortar. This means there is less time spent on restoration with tuckpointing than with repointing because so much more material will need to be removed for complete repointing. 

However, tuckpointing may not yield as much long term improvement because there is so much less mortar being replaced. If you’re only considering  tuckpointing, you need to consider the age of your home or building, and the quality of mortar,  to ensure that the best possible restoration results are achieved.

Repoint Vs Tuckpoint

Repointing will generally provide more strength than tuckpointing because a large percentage of degraded mortar is replaced. Also, repointing allows the original stone surface to be cleaned before new mortar is added, whereas tuckpointed joints need only be brushed clean after they have cured completely. 

This means that the exterior surface of a masonry wall will probably look cleaner after it has been repointed rather than tuckpointed, but this does not mean tuckpointing is necessarily a bad way of doing masonry restoration.

Tuckpointing is more suited for small, inconspicuous areas that would be difficult or impossible to repoint because they are too high or too low on the wall surface to allow enough working room with a trowel. Tuckpointed joints also require less time than repointed joints because no mortar bed needs to be built up before tuckpointing is done. This can save money since it doesn’t require as much material to achieve good results, but it will take longer than repointing if fast construction schedules are needed. 

Repointing outside corners may also require additional materials and labour because so much more original mortar must be removed in order to create the right angle for the new mortar. This often makes tuckpointing a better choice for outside corners because it can be easier and faster to do.

Mortar Differences Between Repointing and Tuckpointing

Repointing is generally done with standard, white Portland cement masonry mortar while tuckpointing is usually done with coloured, sand-mix masonry mortar. This enables the new mortar to blend in more easily with older materials, but there are many situations where either type of mortar may be used because both provide good results if they are applied properly and allowed to cure before water penetrates them. 

For example, using white neat cement mixed with sand that matches the colour of the original material will give excellent results. Either way, always select a mortar that has been determined to have a compressive strength at least as great as the masonry it is being used on.

Restoring Integrity with Repointing Or Tuckpointing

Repointing and tuckpointing are both very effective methods of improving old, deteriorated masonry structures by cleaning up their appearance, preserving original materials, and adding new mortar in deteriorated areas where it’s needed most. Repointing and tuckpointing also require good workmanship in order to be done correctly since they can’t correct problems like failed seals between dissimilar materials without removing too much of the original material. 

However, repointing and tuckpointing each requires different amounts of time and effort depending upon whether or not complete removal of old mortar is needed in order to add new mortar (repointing) or if only brushing the surface clean will suffice to create a good tuckpointed seal between new and old mortar (tuckpointing).

Tuckpointing is not as durable as repointing because there are fewer places where water can be sealed out. This means that repointing may last longer than tuckpointing under certain circumstances, but both methods can provide many years of trouble-free service when they are applied correctly to masonry structures in appropriate locations.

Experts In Brick Pointing and Tuckpointing

Period Home Brick Restoration & Construction is a family owned and operated business that has over 20 years experience in repointing and tuckpointing homes, buildings, and heritage structures. To arrange a free quote, head to our contact page and submit an enquiry.