Brick Tuckpointing Cost

In this guide

Labor
Hand Tuckpointing vs Electric Grinder
Materials
Repairs
Enhancements
Additional Considerations

How much does it cost to have a brick wall or chimney tuckpointed?

Tuckpointing is an improvement/rehabilitation of existing mortar joints in masonry walls. Fresh mortar is tucked into the joints to replace old and crumbling mortar, or to decorate the wall. For purposes of decoration color is added to mortar that is shaped into a thin strip.

Tuckpointing can also be purely decorative where homeowners want to improve the look of their brick walls. When done properly, tuckpointing provides a strong and waterproof mortar joint matching the original appearance of mortar joints. In most cases mortar joints take an average 10-20 years before they need repair. So walls can take as much time before requiring tuckpointing for purposes of repair. 

 A 20 sq.ft. wall will cost around $500 to tuckpoint under normal conditions.

Labor

You need professionals to carry out the tuckpointing job well. Different contractors will quote differently depending on their experience and expertise but costs lie anywhere between $3 and $7 for the first 10 feet height of the walls where much scaffolding 1 is not needed. Beyond 5 feet high, the cost increases significantly to around $10 per square feet.  

One mason working at an average rate of 10 sq.ft per hour should be able to complete a 20 sq.ft wall in 2 hours for a cost of average $100. Places like chimneys are difficult to reach due to a lot of climbing involved, and cost more usually twice. Tuckpointing a 20 sq.ft. area of chimney wall can cost $200 and take around 4 hours for one mason.

There are different stages involved in tuckpointing that influence the cost. First is the removal of old/deteriorated mortar 2 to the desired depth, usually ¼ inch to ¾ inch. After grinding out old mortar 2 to required depth, the new mortar 2 is tucked into the joints using a pointing trowel.

Hand Tuckpointing vs Electric Grinder

Most labour in tuckpointing consists in grinding out deteriorated mortar to the required depths in joints. Established contractors who already have electric grinders can lower cost by around 20%. Individual handymen can do small sections of walls with use of chisel and hammer. If job will probably take 1 to few hours, hiring an electronic grinder will be more expensive than just doing the work with manual tools. To hire an electric grinder costs between $50 and $200 per day depending on area.

Materials

Different materials have varied cost implications on a tuckpointing project. Ordinary portland cement is cheaper while using lime or caulk 3 is 10%-15%more expensive . Where tuckpointing is done for decoration, colors can be added that subsequently add to the cost of tuckpointing the wall. Decorations escalate the cost by around 30% of the normal cost. Other materials include masonry cleaners for scrubbing dirt from bricks and diamond blades for grinders. These take up around 10% to 20% of the project cost. Materials in total make up around 50% of tuckpointing cost with labour taking the remaining 50%.

Repairs

Sometimes there are minor repairs to be done before the actual tuckpointing. They impact the final tuckpointing costs by large margins.


DefectActionCost
Broken bricksReplacement$5-$10 per sq.ft. depending on extend
Wall CracksRemoval and replacement of full sections of walls$5-$10 per sq.ft.
Full depth mortar 2 deteriorationRepointing$10 per sq.ft.
Deteriorated brick surfaceBrushing$1-$3 per sq.ft.


Enhancement and improvement costs

  • Even where your home walls have intact mortar 2 joints, you can add an aesthetic value to the brickwork with decorative tuck-pointing. Lime-based mortar 2 can be used to frame the bricks (preferably red) with white lines to create a pleasant contrast. Decorative work costs around $7-$10 per sq.ft, and roughly $140-$200 for a 20 sq.ft wall.
  • Other options are to add caulk 3 in the joints next to windows hence improving the wall’s cosmetic value. These decorative measures will add the cost slightly, especially by 5% to 10%. The services of an experienced painter costs around $20-$35 per hour, so to hire a painter to neatly add caulk 3 to the joints on a 20 sq. ft wall section will cost $40-$70 for maximum 2 hours needed to complete the job.
  • Chimney caps wear down over time and when they wear through your chimney is exposed to potential water damage both inside and out. A new chimney cap will cost you between $300 and $500 depending on the size and location of your chimney.

Additional considerations and costs

  • Labour makes 50% or more of the total tuckpointing cost involved. If area to be worked on is hard to get to, more time, labor and equipment will be needed. A good example of hard to get to places is chimney walls. The cost of labour to tuckpoint such areas normally rise by 100% of labour cost for normal areas. Consequently, tuckpointing hard to reach areas costs 75% to 100% more than normal areas. Undertaking such work also involves high risks and the contractor needs to be insured, which translates to extra costs of the project.
  • Some situations like area weather may call for waterproofing the mortar 2 joints after tuckpointing. Entry of water into the wall cavity may cause spalling of the wall and irreparable cracks. Waterproofing can cost around $5-$15 for the 20 sq.ft wall. In cold and humid weather, waterproofing should be done sooner after tuckpointing and more frequently than warm weather as cold weather has more destructive effects on mortar 2.
  • The U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Historic Preservation standards have to be followed by the tuckpointing contractor. According to the standards, modern cement mortar 2 cannot be used on top of lime based mortar 2 as they have different expansive characteristics. When used they can cause irreparable damage to older buildings during tuckpointing and in future. New mortar 2 used for tuckpointing should match the original mortar 2 used in building the wall in porosity and compressive strength.
  • New mortar 2 can be destroyed by freeze and thaw cycles, therefore it is advisable to do tuckpointing somewhere between late spring and early fall.
  • Overall, the conditions of the joints in terms of size, accessibility and extent of deterioration determine the price charged by contractors for tuckpointing, but generally the cost lies between $3 and $10 per square foot.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Scaffolding: A temporary structure used during construction/maintenance/painting projects to raise and support workers (or one worker), required materials, and equipment
2 Mortar: A mixture of Portland cement or lime or a combination of both, sand, and water used to bind bricks, stones, and concrete masonry units together
3 Caulk: A chemical sealant used to fill in and seal gaps where two materials join, for example, the tub and tile, to create a watertight and airtight seal. The term "caulking" is also used to refer to the process of applying this type of sealant

Cost to have a brick wall or chimney tuckpointed varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Arlington, VA
+38%
Athens, GA
-9%
Ballwin, MO
+14%
Baltimore, MD
+12%
Bronx, NY
+32%
Brooklyn, NY
+16%
Chesterfield, MO
+24%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Cleveland, OH
+7%
Clifton Heights, PA
+26%
Dearborn Heights, MI
+16%
Denver, CO
+1%
Detroit, MI
+16%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Ellicott City, MD
+27%
Erie, PA
-17%
Falls Church, VA
+25%
Grand Prairie, TX
+6%
Havertown, PA
+26%
Hempstead, NY
+31%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jackson, MI
-14%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Jeffersonville, IN
-20%
Kansas City, MO
+4%
Kenosha, WI
+9%
La Crosse, WI
-12%
Lansdale, PA
+44%
Lexington, KY
+1%
Minneapolis, MN
+25%
Philadelphia, PA
+40%
Pittsburgh, PA
+9%
Plano, TX
+24%
Quincy, IL
-17%
Saint Joseph, MO
-1%
Saint Louis, MO
+16%
Saint Paul, MN
+20%
Salt Lake City, UT
-6%
Sarasota, FL
-8%
Smithboro, IL
-43%
Smyrna, GA
+10%
Southfield, MI
+29%
Spring, TX
+24%
Towson, MD
+17%
Tulsa, OK
-14%
Upper Marlboro, MD
+16%
Washington, DC
+23%
Wilmington, DE
+9%

Labor cost in your zip code

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Methodology and sources