Brick Repointing London
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Repointing is an essential part of the maintenance of a brick house. It doesn’t have to be done often – ideally once a lifetime – but it does have to be done well.
Pointing is the mortar between bricks, which is decays over time through weathering from wind, rain and freeze/thaw erosion. Mortar is meant to weather this way, otherwise the more valuable bricks would bear the brunt of the elements.
This mortar will inevitably have to be replaced at some point, as decayed pointing allows water inside the wall, leading to penetrating damp and damage to the brickwork.
Poor repointing using a cement mortar will typically last 10 years or less, while high quality repointing using lime mortar and the appropriate finish will last 60 years or more.
Using the wrong mortar and finish for the pointing isn’t just a bad investment because it doesn’t last; it can also destroy a brick wall.
Trying to save money on cheap repointing will result if far more expensive repairs in the long run as irreparably damaged bricks will have to be replaced.
To get a quote for high quality repointing for period and modern properties, call us now or request a call back.
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How does poor repointing damage brick walls?
Mortar provides compression between bricks, absorbing force from gravity as the building settles and as the bricks expand and contract from temperature changes and moisture absorption.
Using the wrong mortar doesn’t just look bad, it can cause irreversible damage to the wall. A mortar that is too hard won’t provide compression for the bricks, which will crack or shatter from having to absorb the force instead.
This is especially damaging in period homes. Bricks from the Victorian era or earlier are far softer than today because they are highly porous, which allows the solid brick walls of the building to “breathe” moisture in and out.
The softer the brick, the softer the mortar should be. In period homes, mortar joints also contribute to the breathability to the wall, which will otherwise cause the bricks to be overwhelmed by excessive travel of moisture.
Modern brick walls use hard bricks, which allows the use of a harder mortar, though we still recommend a largely lime-based mortar due to its excellent compressive and self-healing properties.
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Sympathetic repointing for period properties
Repointing for period properties is a delicate process which needs to be carried out by tradespeople trained in traditional building techniques and able to identify the composition of the original mortar.
This is because the replacement mortar in period repointing needs to match the characteristics of the original mortar as close as possible in softness, permeability, durability and appearance.
Lime mortar is a mix of sand and lime, and the exact ratio is site-dependent. Mortar for period properties is not an off-the-shelf material; it’s mixed on-site to the same ratio as the original mortar, then applied with the appropriate finish for the building.
Terry Clark, director of Environ Property Services, is a member of The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He personally supervises all repointing works to ensure that the correct techniques are used to preserve period brickwork.