Brick Tuckpointing Cost Guide
Updated: 19 Jul 2022
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Reviewed by Cristina Miguelez remodeling expert. Written by Fixr.com.
Brick structures like homes, chimneys, and patios offer many benefits. However, you may need to tuckpoint the area if you notice your bricks have holes or cracks, the mortar is damaged, or these are discolored. New mortar is applied to repair issues, bringing back a great aesthetic and removing issues that might not work. It can be a functional or decorative process.
The national average cost to have a brick wall tuckpointed by a professional ranges between $1,500 and $2,500, with most homeowners spending $2,000 to tuckpoint a 10’ x 10’ patio using an electric grinder and lime putty. This project’s low cost is $350 to tuckpoint a 20 sq.ft. fireplace with cement mortar. The high cost is $3,500 to tuckpoint a 500 sq.ft. basement with an electric grinder and caulk.
Cost of Tuckpointing Brick
|Average Cost of Tuckpointing|
|National average cost||$2,000|
What Is Tuckpointing?
Tuckpointing is rehabilitating or improving existing mortar joints in masonry walls. Fresh mortar is tucked into the joints to replace old and crumbling mortar or decorate the wall. Color is added to mortar and shaped into a thin strip for decoration. Tuckpointing can also be purely decorative when homeowners want to improve how their brick walls look. When done properly, tuckpointing provides a strong waterproof mortar joint matching the original appearance of mortar joints.
While the brick of a home, wall, or chimney may last for many decades, the mortar wears much faster. It starts to change color or fall apart and requires replacement. Tuckpointing adds new strength to the brick structure to prevent weakening of it or nearby items. It also adds a barrier against moisture to prevent thawing and freezing cycles, causing damage. The third benefit is creating a great aesthetic with varied mortar colors.
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Tuckpointing Cost per Square Foot
Like many home improvement projects, tuckpointing is often priced by the square foot. This brick enhancement process is typically applied to a rectangular wall, so square feet are appropriate for pricing. The average cost per square foot for tuckpointing is $5 to $10 for walls of 8’ or under. Walls over 8’ range from $10 to $25 per square foot for tuckpointing. Project costs vary from $50 for more budget-friendly options to $50,000 for complex, large-scale projects. While the cost to tuckpoint an entire house depends on the overall square footage, other factors are also important. Contractors look at the project size in square feet and consider the wall’s current condition, how much prep work is needed, and the necessary tools to complete the job. Below are some of the common brick wall sizes and the associated cost to tuckpoint a brick house with an electric grinder, including the walls, foundation, chimney, and other brick items. They have a large range because tuckpointing can be done on small and large parts.
|Square Feet||Average Price|
|10 sq.ft.||$50 - $250|
|50 sq.ft.||$250 - $1,250|
|100 sq.ft.||$500 - $2,500|
|500 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $12,500|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$5,000 - $25,000|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$10,000 - $50,000|
Tuckpointing Cost per Linear Foot
Some contractors price their tuckpointing projects per linear foot. It is uncommon, but each professional can choose to price in the linear foot, square foot, or by the hour. While this measurement is most commonly used for lumber, it works for tuckpointing and similar work. 5.5 linear feet can be estimated for each square foot of wall space for standard modular brick walls with a width of 2”. The average cost per linear foot for tuckpointing is $1 to $5. This table indicates common linear feet measurements for brick wall tuckpointing and the average costs, including materials and labor, ranging from $55 to $55,000. A large variation is included because tuckpointing can be used on small items like fireplaces and large spaces like entire homes. There are many projects in between, such as walls and patios.
|Linear Feet||Average Price|
|55 Linear Feet||$55 - $275|
|275 Linear Feet||$275 - $1,375|
|550 Linear Feet||$550 - $2,750|
|2,750 Linear Feet||$2,750 - $13,750|
|5,500 Linear Feet||$5,500 - $27,500|
|11,000 Linear Feet||$11,000 - $55,000|
Cost of Tuckpointing Brick by Material
You can tuckpoint with a range of materials, including cement, lime-based mortar, and caulk, with prices ranging between $20 to $60 per gallon. The material that works best for your job depends on several factors, including its characteristics and the reason for tuckpointing. Choosing a certain color or consistency factors into which material your contractor uses. Some professionals have a preferred material or brand. This table shows the average costs to use each material to complete a chimney tuckpointing project.
|Cement||$500 - $2,000|
|Lime Putty||$600 - $2,250|
|Caulk||$750 - $2,500|
The average price of tuckpointing a chimney with cement is $500 to $2,000. Made from clay, sand, and fine sandstone, cement is used for various applications in construction. It is a strong binding material that hardens and sticks to combine other surfaces. That makes it a preferable choice for tuckpointing because it is water-resistant and available in attractive shades like white and gray. While cement is subject to corrosion, it is still a strong and durable choice for tuckpointing. It takes longer to harden than other materials, so it may not be best where the weather may change during the tuckpointing process.
Tuckpointing Lime Putty
Lime-based mortar for tuckpointing a chimney averages $600 to $2,250. Made from lime treated with water, mason’s lime slows down the setting time so that it hardens appropriately for tuckpointing. It has the right porosity and flexibility for this application, providing adequate stickiness for enhancing the brickwork. Lime mortar can become overly sticky if not mixed correctly, so contractors must be careful to find the right concentration. It tends to harden more quickly than cement and can be used on brick and stone.
Caulk is a slightly more expensive choice for brick tuckpointing, with an average cost of $750 to $2,500 for a chimney. This sealing compound is made from base compounds of acrylic latex, rubber, polyurethane, or silicone. It is generally flexible enough to fit within the brick joints. Caulk is watertight and airtight and can be painted in several colors to suit the brick appearance. While some types last 5 to 20 years, varieties like latex caulk cannot handle temperature changes. Silicone caulk is more difficult to apply with a stronger smell. It is the most durable and flexible and applies quickly.
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Average Cost of Tuckpointing by Location
The location where tuckpointing is done also impacts the price. The size, accessibility, and height impact the price. For example, tuckpointing a small fireplace is less expensive than tuckpointing an average-sized chimney. Tuckpointing a foundation or an entire house, including chimneys and other items, is much more expensive. A larger amount of labor is needed for massive projects, and the cost rises quickly. The table below provides information about the average project price based on location.
|Fireplace||$100 - $500|
|Wall||$400 - $2,500|
|Chimney||$500 - $2,500|
|Patio||$500 - $2,500|
|Basement||$1,600 - $8,000|
|Foundation||$5,000 - $25,000|
|Whole House||$12,500 - $62,500|
On average, a 20 sq.ft. fireplace costs $100 to $500 for tuckpointing. The price is higher when done with chimney tuckpointing. This is the simpler part of the process, so costs tend to be lower. However, the fireplace’s intricacy and location impact costs. Tuckpointing the fireplace ensures it is in good shape and capable of warming the home.
Tuckpointing a wall costs $400 to $2,500 for an 8’ x 10’ wall. When several walls need to be tuckpointed, this price can rise quickly. However, it is an excellent way to ensure your brick walls stay in good shape. Keep in mind that for walls with a height over 8’, the prices tend to be at the higher end.
The average cost to tuckpoint a chimney is $500 to $2,500. This is also called roof tuckpointing. Extra costs are due to working at extreme heights. Working at heights requires added time and equipment, such as ladders or scaffolding. While working on a chimney tuckpointing project, professionals may notice additional chimney issues that otherwise go unnoticed. The contractor may recommend further chimney repairs if the brick is severely compromised, the chimney’s structural integrity is at risk, or other problems arise.
Tuckpoint a Patio
Tuckpointing a 10’ x 10’ patio costs $500 to $2,500. Smaller patios cost less, while larger and more intricate patios cost more. The process makes the patio more aesthetically pleasing by building a contrasting color pattern between the bricks. It also helps keep the brick in good shape to last longer. The moisture barrier is also sealed during tuckpointing so that rain and snow do not cause issues.
Tuckpointing Basement Walls
It is common to tuckpoint basements, and tuckpointing a room with four 8’ x 10’ walls costs $1,600 to $8,000. It is especially important to tuckpoint basements because they have a structural effect on the building. A professional should check if this is needed and should be done every few years. In most cases, tuckpointing in basements is needed every 20 to 30 years. Making sure there is no deterioration can ensure the structure does not risk damage.
Homeowners who need tuckpointing on a 1,000 sq.ft. project can expect to pay $5,000 to $25,000. However, prices vary depending on how much foundation is tuckpointed. The price also varies if you are tuckpointing a stone, limestone, concrete block, or cinder block foundation. This is where an hourly charge is more common because the project is detailed and hard to see. In this case, you pay $75 to $125 an hour plus materials.
Tuckpoint a Brick House
The cost to tuckpoint a brick house varies based on the size, so an average home that is 2,500 sq.ft. and reaches no higher than 8’ costs $12,500 to $62,500. However, the size, shape, and style affect the price. There may be a discount if the project is more than 1,000 sq.ft. Areas close to the ground cost less to tuckpoint, while higher areas may increase the price.
Tuckpointing Prices by Mortar Type
The other main component of pricing a tuckpointing project is the mortar type. The costs for tuckpointing by mortar type range from $5 to $50 for materials. Each type comes with different combinations of cement, lime, and caulk. Some varieties are stronger or have better bonding properties. Some homeowners require a specific mortar based on the wall location and weather, while some mortar lasts better in extreme temperatures or on exterior walls and chimneys. Also consider your home’s age. For example, many homes made pre-1930 use soft bricks and natural hydraulic limes. More modern homes use harder bricks and mortar with less lime. Another factor to consider is PSI, the pound per square inch pressure. The below table details the mortar types, PSI, and the average cost per 80-pound bag.
|Mortar Type||PSI (Pounds per Square Inch)||Average Cost per 80-Pound Bag Project|
|M Mortar||2,500||$5 - $10|
|S Mortar||1,800||$5 - $15|
|N Mortar||750||$5 - $20|
|O Mortar||350||$20 - $50|
Type M Mortar
The average cost of type M mortar is $5 to $10. This mortar mix is the strongest on the market with 2,500 PSI, so it is most commonly used for brick foundations, retaining walls, and load-bearing walls. The general ratio is 1 part lime, 3 parts cement, and 12 parts sand. The small amount of lime provides impressive strength, but it is not as good at bonding as other types.
Type S Mortar
Using type S mortar for tuckpointing costs $5 to $15. At 1,800 PSI, type S mortar mix uses include laying brick walls and chimneys. Made from 1 part lime, 2 parts cement, and 9 parts sand, type S mortar is most resistant to weather and movement with greater flexibility for building, whether it be a structural wall, brick patio, or walkway. It is also more sticky than others.
Type N Mortar
Most people pay $5 to $20for type N mortar and tuckpointing a chimney, which is highly flexible and durable at 750 PSI. Made from 1 part of cement and lime mixed with 6 parts sand, type N is more resilient. However, it is not as structurally sound as type M. Chimneys and exterior walls are often tuckpointed with type N mortar. This general-purpose material can withstand temperature and weather changes. It may also be used for load-bearing walls.
Type O Mortar
There is also type O mortar, which costs $20 to $50 when tuckpointing a chimney. It has lower strength than the others at 350 PSI due to 2 parts lime, 1 part cement, and 9 parts sand. While it is usually not durable enough for outdoors, type O is preferred for interior brick walls and smaller projects. It is better for restoration and bringing historic brick chimneys and walls to life. The low PSI gives it enhanced sealing and adhesive properties.
Tuckpointing Labor Cost
You need professionals to perform the tuckpointing job well. The tuckpointing process has several steps. The first is removing old and deteriorated mortar to the desired depth. After grinding out the old mortar, the new mortar is tucked into the joints using a pointing trowel. The process is often priced by the square foot but may sometimes be provided as a service by the hour or linear foot.
The conditions of the brick joints in size, accessibility, and deterioration determine the tuckpointing price charged by contractors. Different contractors quote different prices, depending on their experience and expertise. Costs are between $5 and $10 per square foot for the first 8’ of height on the walls where much scaffolding is not needed. Beyond 10’, the cost increases significantly to $10 to $25 per square foot. If the tuckpointing is done hourly, labor costs $75 to $125 plus the mortar.
One mason working at an average rate of 10 sq.ft. per hour can complete a 20 sq.ft. wall in 2 hours for $100 to $200. Places like chimneys are difficult to reach due to the climbing and cost up to two times more. Tuckpointing a 20 sq.ft. area of a chimney wall costs $200 to $500 and takes around 4 hours for one mason.
Labor makes up 50% or more of the total tuckpointing cost. More time, labor, and equipment are necessary if the area is difficult to access.
How Do You Know If You Need Tuckpointing?
If you are curious whether your home needs tuckpointing, there are a few signs that it might be time to bring in a professional. Keep track of brick structures to look for signs that this process is needed. Gaps or holes in the mortar signify that tuckpointing may be needed. Tuckpointing may also be needed if the mortar has a white coating or a flakey and weathered appearance. If you notice your brick structure has cracks or seems to be on the verge of crumbling, speak with a professional for tuckpointing as soon as possible.
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What to Do Before Tuckpointing
A few things should be done before tuckpointing brick, especially concerning the initial inspection and repairs. The inspection is done by masons and is included in the cost of tuckpointing services. Inspect the home for signs of a deteriorated brick surface to figure out how much tuckpointing must be done. Masons have a lot of expertise, but homeowners should bring up issues they notice. Unaddressed problems lead to future costs.
Homeowners can look for clear indications of problem areas, confirmed by contractors for little or no charge during the pre-work inspection. Areas where powdered, unlevel, or missing mortar appear should be tuckpointed, especially bricks showing full-depth mortar deterioration.
If the wall is damaged, you may want to repair the broken brick before filling the mortar gaps. The average brick wall crack repair costs $20 to $60 per square foot. The other main step before tuckpointing is wetting the brick wall so that the mortar has enough moisture to set and stick. Before adding the new mortar, the existing mortar must be ground or hammered and removed at least 1” deep, with all dust particles and debris cleaned out.
Hand Tuckpointing vs Electric Grinder Cost
Most labor in tuckpointing consists of grinding out deteriorated mortar to the required depths in joints. Established contractors with electric grinders can lower costs by around 20%. Individual handymen can do small sections of walls with a chisel and hammer. Hiring an electronic grinder is more expensive than working with manual tools if the job takes 60 minutes to a few hours.
Hand tuckpointing is typically recommended for small sections on single-level homes or front-facing walls where the main focus is improving aesthetic appeal rather than structural integrity. Tuckpointing with an electric grinder produces a uniform result. However, it may not bring as much color and design as hand tuckpointing. Assuming a professional is handling the project, electric tuckpointing costs $5 to $20 while hand tuckpointing costs $7 to $25.
|Type||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Electric||$5 - $20|
|Hand||$7 - $25|
Tuckpointing vs Repointing Cost
Tuckpointing and repointing are two similar projects. The main difference is when they are required and how they support mortar joints. Tuckpointing occurs before repointing and is a preventative measure to improve how brick walls look and support the structure. Repointing is required when the brick is at risk of serious damage or collapse.
Tuckpointing can be used on brick construction and is often used for historic homes. It can be used to repair mortar as a preventive process or make a brick structure more visually appealing. It matches the mortar color to the brick with contrasting grooves to produce a smooth, tight finish. After the old mortar is removed, tuckpointing involves replacing it and using contrasting putty colors in the center of new mortar joints.
Repointing is largely the same but focuses on maintenance and repair. It may happen every 15 to 30 years and involves removing mortar from joints to add new mortar. Repointing is usually used when moisture enters the joints, and the brick wall must be strengthened and protected as a utility repair rather than an aesthetic improvement. The old mortar is stripped and replaced with new mortar to keep the wall intact for years.
The average cost for tuckpointing is $5 to $25 per square foot, while the average cost of repointing is around $3 to $15 per square foot. Both projects increase in price if the wall is higher than 8’ or is in a hard-to-reach area, such as a chimney. An extensive tuckpointing or repointing project by hand costs more than using an electric grinder to wear the existing mortar.
|Project||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Repointing||$3 - $15|
|Tuckpointing||$5 - $25|
Brick vs Stone Tuckpointing Cost
Generally, tuckpointing is not much different on a stone wall than a brick wall, with a similar process, preparation, and pricing. Some contractors charge slightly more per square foot, such as $3 to $15 extra for tuckpointing stone, which can be more difficult. Homeowners should know that lime mortar does not work as well on stone as on brick because of the longer drying time and larger spaces between the stones. Dampening stone walls before tuckpointing is important, like with brick tuckpointing. Brick tuckpointing ranges from $5 to $25 per square foot, while stone is $8 to $40.
|Tuckpointing Project||Average Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Brick||$5 - $25|
|Stone||$8 - $40|
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Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Even where your home walls have intact mortar joints, you can add an aesthetic value to the brickwork with decorative tuckpointing. Lime-based mortar can frame the bricks (preferably red) with white lines for a pleasant contrast. Decorative work costs $7 to $10 per square foot and roughly $140 to $200 for a 20 sq.ft. wall.
You can add caulk in the joints next to windows to improve the wall’s cosmetic value. These decorative measures increase the cost slightly, usually by 5% to 10%. An experienced painter costs $40 to $60 per hour. Hiring a painter to neatly add caulk to the joints on a 20 sq.ft. wall section costs $100 to $200 for a maximum of 2 hours.
Chimney caps wear. When they wear through, your chimney is exposed to potential water damage, inside and out. A new chimney cap costs $300 to $600, depending on the chimney size and location.
Waterproofing Mortar Joints
Some situations like the weather may call for waterproofing the mortar joints after tuckpointing. Water entering the wall cavity may cause spalling and irreparable cracks. Waterproofing costs $0.10 to $0.20 per square foot. In cold, humid weather, waterproofing should be done soon after tuckpointing. This step is important because cold weather has more destructive effects on mortar.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Tuckpointing standards. The tuckpointing contractor must follow the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Historic Preservation standards. According to the standards, modern cement mortar cannot be used on top of lime-based mortar because they have different expansive characteristics. They can cause irreparable damage to older buildings during tuckpointing and in the future. The new mortar used for tuckpointing should match the original mortar used in building the wall in porosity and compressive strength.
- Repair costs. If tuckpointing is needed, other repairs often must be handled first. If joints are cracked, some bricks may also experience this issue. These bricks must be replaced or repaired before tuckworking. The costs vary based on how much damage is present to how many bricks.
- DIY. Tuckpointing can be done as a do-it-yourself process, but it is extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive. It can be challenging for anyone who is not a professional. It is often better to hire an expert.
- K mortar. K mortar is the least-seen mortar for practical uses. It may only be used in limited applications for historical or interior pointing of handmade soft brick.
- Height. The structure’s height is one of the most important factors influencing tuckpointing pricing. For example, many professionals raise their rates on structures of over 8’. However, some contractors may use a different height to determine when prices rise.
- Lifespan. The average tuckpointing process can keep mortar joints in good condition for about 20 to 30 years. The weather impacts how many years to expect tuckpointing to last as a mortar joint.
- Season. New mortar can be destroyed by freeze and thaw cycles. It is advisable to complete tuckpointing somewhere between late spring and early fall. The best air temperatures for tuckpointing are between 40º and 90º Fahrenheit for at least 1 day before the project is done and 3 days after it is complete. If tuckpointing in winter has to be done due to an emergency, special heating blankets and additives may be needed.
- What is the difference between repointing and tuckpointing?
Repointing is a utility maintenance project that involves actually removing the old mortar and replacing it with fresh mortar to support the wall’s structural foundation and block out moisture. Tuckpointing is more of an aesthetic upgrade where specific shades of mortar are blended to fill in old, tired joints for an enhanced appearance.
- How much does tuckpointing brick cost?
Tuckpointing brick costs $5 to $10 per sq.ft. for the first 8’ of height before increasing to $10 to $25 per square foot for taller walls. The average price for electric tuckpointing is $5 to $20 per square foot.
- Why is tuckpointing so expensive?
Tuckpointing brick is expensive because it requires a considerable amount of materials and labor. Cement, sand, and lime-based mortar are needed in addition to chisels, hammers, or electric grinders, depending on the project. A taller brick wall may call for ladders and scaffolding. Most professionals base their project pricing on completing 10 sq. ft. of tuckpointing per hour, so the labor costs increase.
- How do you know if you need tuckpointing?
Tuckpointing is often a personal preference for homeowners who want to improve the look of their brick walls. If the mortar is fading away and crumbling, or the brick joints look uneven and damaged, then filling in the mortar with a professional tuckpointing project can create a clean, crisp look with the right colors for the brick wall.
- Can I do my own tuckpointing?
Technically homeowners can try their own tuckpointing, but it’s a big job. It’s easy to cause more damage to the brick walls without the proper experience. That’s why this job is best done by a tuckpointing professional who has access to all the required equipment and materials. Licensed contractors and masonry experts can produce the desired results to give home brickwork a boost with precise tuckpointing.
- Can tuckpointing be done in winter?
While tuckpointing can be done in winter, it depends on the region and the daily temperatures. To achieve the best tuckpointing results, professionals recommend completing this project when the temperature is between 40 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring and autumn temperatures around 60 to 70 degrees are good, although contractors will work with homeowners to get the job done promptly. Picking a time when there has been no heavy rain, wind, or snow in the past 24 hours, or the day of the project is ideal.
- Is tuckpointing a capital improvement?
Tuckpointing is not considered a capital improvement as the existing brick wall remains in place. Rather, this project is called a repair expense. Pulling out an old brick wall all together and replacing it with a new one would be a capital improvement.
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