Brick walls are useful! Many houses are made with brick, as are garden walls, and a variety of other objects. The simple fact is brick is durable, it’s weather-resistant and difficult to damage.
But, time does take its toll on the cement that sits between the bricks. This is what weakens walls and creates issues in the future. The good news is that this cement can be refilled and refinished to strengthen the wall and make it look as good as new. Possibly even better!
Refinishing the cement is known as re-pointing. To get a really good finish you may want to get professional assistance. A reputable brick re-pointing will handle everything for you and leave your wall looking stunning.
But, if you prefer to do it yourself, here’s what you need to know.
The first step is to remove the old mortar. If you want to ensure the wall stays strong it’s important to get rid of the mortar and put in new. However, don’t take all the mortar out in one go, it will weaken the wall and you may end up re-building instead of re-pointing.
Instead, work in one section at a time. Using either a cold chisel or a joint raker pull the old cement out of each joint. You need to remove approximately ½ inch worth of cement.
Wetting The Wall
Now that you’ve prepared your wall for the new mortar you need to soak it. Use a hose and cover the area that you’re about to re-point. You want to get the wall saturated so that the bricks absorb the moisture. If they are hydrated they won’t absorb moisture from your cement. If they do absorb moisture from your cement it will become dry and fall out easily.
It’s a good idea to soak them with water a day before you re-point and then lightly spray them before you start.
It’s important to get the mixture right. The critical part is understanding the age of your home. House younger than 50 years can use standard cement mortar. However, if they’re older than this you’ll want to mix the mortar with lime. This helps to prevent the older bricks from cracking.
The most common mix is six parts of fine sand, two parts lime, and one part cement.
You’ll want to make this in small batches to prevent it hardening too quickly for you to use.
When you’re ready use a pointing trowel to work the cement into the gaps in your bricks. Make sure every gap is stuffed full before using the flat edge of the trowel across the face of your bricks. This ensures the mortar is in line with the bricks, has a uniform look, and you’re not wasting it.
You should also use a wire brush to remove mortar on your bricks. Wait at least an hour to let the mortar harden before using the wire brush.
Finally, mist the wall daily for the next three or four days, this prevents the mortar from drying to quickly and cracking.
It’s a slow and tedious job but the end result is worth it.