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Tips for Tuckpointing Antique Brickwork

antique brickwork

This antique brickwork is in need of some tuckpointing.

Tuckpointing is a way to remove old mortar between bricks and replace it with fresh new mortar. This is necessary if your brickwork is old and the mortar is crumbling. Adding new mortar can improve the structural integrity of old or antique brickwork. If you are considering tuckpointing some old brickwork, here are a few tips to consider.


The mortar of most old or antique brickwork won’t match the color of today’s mortar. Before the 1950s, mortar had a very high lime content. Today, mortar does have lime, but it also has Portland cement. The Portland cement ratio in new mortar is very high compared to old mortar; mortar made before the 1950s rarely used Portland cement. If you’d like to lighten the color of your mortar to match the color of your old mortar you can buy a bag of lime, which is pure white, and mix it in with your mortar.


Adding lime to your mortar not only lightens the color, but it also improves the strength. Portland cement makes mortar hard. This hard mortar can make old, soft bricks crack as they expand and contract in different temperatures. Having a higher ratio of lime can help to ensure that your antique bricks don’t crack. If a brick does develop a small crack, the lime in the mortar can react with water and carbon dioxide to heal the crack.


You’ll want to begin by scraping out ½ to ¾ inch of old mortar. If the antique brickwork is in a bad condition, try working in small sections to minimize the chance of the brickwork falling apart.  Mix your Portland cement, lime, and sand together in the desired proportions to reach the right color, strength, and consistency. Wet the area where you will apply the new mortar; bricks can absorb moisture, so if you apply new mortar to the bricks they may suck out all the moisture in your mortar before you’re finished, which creates weakened joints. Use a jointer tool to finish the surface and brush away any excess with a brush. After the new mortar sets, you can use a diluted mixture of muriatic acid to clean the surface. Be sure to rinse the surface thoroughly afterwards.

Get In Touch With DelPrete Masonry Today

While there are many other materials that we use at DelPrete Masonry, we’re not about to abandon concrete anytime soon. It has proven its worth many times over and we know that we can bring you a solid masonry structure with it. To find out more about your masonry options including the environmental benefits of concrete restoration, please contact our office today at 410-683-0650 or email us at mike@delpretemasonry.com. We serve Baltimore City, County, Harford County, Carroll County, Anne Arundel County, and Howard County.

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