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Tuckpointing is the rehabilitation or improvement of existing mortar joints in masonry walls. Fresh mortar is tucked into the joints to replace old and crumbling mortar or 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, waterproof mortar joint matching the original appearance of mortar joints.
The national average cost to have a brick wall tuckpointed by a professional ranges between $300 and $800Most homeowners spend around $500 for tuckpointing a 20 sq. ft. wall with an elec. tric grinder. On the low end, you can have the same 20 sq. ft. wall lightly brushed with a masonry brush for around $250. On the higher end, you can have a 20 sq. ft. chimney tuckpointed with an electric grinder and fresh color for up to $3,500.
|Average Cost of Tuckpointing|
|National average cost||$500|
You can tuckpoint with a range of different materials, including cement, lime-based mortar 1, and caulk, with prices ranging between $25 and $40 per gallon. The material that works best for your job depends on several different factors, including its characteristics and the reason for tuckpointing. If you want a certain color or consistency, that will factor into which material your contractor uses. Some professionals have a preferred material or brand. This table shows the average costs for these materials per gallon.
|Material||Average Cost per Gallon (Materials Only)|
The average price of tuckpointing cement is $25 per gallon. 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 as it’s water-resistant and available in attractive shades like white and grey. While cement can be subject to corrosion over time, it’s still a strong, durable choice for tuckpointing.
Lime-based mortar for tuckpointing averages $30 per gallon. Made from lime treated with water, mason’s lime slows down the setting time, so it hardens appropriately for tuckpointing. It has the right porosity and flexibility for this application, which gives it adequate stickiness for enhancing the look of brickwork. Lime mortar can become overly sticky if not mixed correctly, so contractors will be careful to get the right concentration for the job.
Caulk is a slightly more expensive choice for brick tuckpointing, with an average cost of $50 per gallon. This sealing compound is made from base compounds of acrylic latex, rubber, polyurethane, or silicone. It’s generally flexible enough to fit within the brick joints 2. Caulk is watertight and airtight and can be painted several colors to suit the brick appearance. While some types of caulk can last for 5 to 20 years, varieties like latex caulk aren’t great with temperature changes. Silicone caulk is more difficult to apply with a stronger smell.
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 mortar materials. Four main types of mortar are available, with different combinations of cement, lime, and caulk 3. Some varieties are stronger or have better bonding properties than others. Some homeowners require a certain type of mortar based on the location of the brick wall and the weather in their region. Some mortar lasts better in extreme temperatures or on exterior walls and chimneys than others. Another factor that helps homeowners choose which type of mortar to tuckpoint with is PSI, which is the pound per square inch. This unit of pressure describes the force that is exerted on one square inch by the brick mortar. The higher the PSI, the stronger and more durable the mortar is. The below table details the different mortar types, the PSI, and the average cost of each per 80-pound bag.
|Mortar Type||PSI (Pound per Square Inch)||Average Cost per 80-Pund Bag (Materials Only)|
|M||2,500||$5 - $10|
|S||1,800||$5 - $10|
|N||750||$5 - $20|
|O||350||$20 - $50|
The average cost of type M mortar is $5 to $10 per 80-pound bag. This mortar mix is the strongest choice on the market with 2,500 PSI, so it's most commonly used for brick foundations, retaining walls 4, and load-bearing walls. The general ratio is one part lime, three parts cement, and 12 parts sand. The small amount of lime gives it that impressive strength, but it isn’t as good at bonding as other mortar types.
Homeowners pay $5 to $10 on average for each 80-pound pack of type S mortar. At 1,800 PSI, type S mortar mix uses include laying brick walls and chimneys. Made from one part lime, two parts cement, and nine parts sand, type S mortar is most resistant to weather and movement with greater flexibility for building uses, whether it be a structural wall, a brick patio, or walkway. It’s more sticky than others too.
Most people will pay $5 to $20 on average for 80 pounds of type N mortar, which at 750 PSI is highly flexible and durable. Made from one part each of cement and lime mixed with six 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 5 inside the home.
There’s also type O mortar, which averages $20 to $50 per 80 pounds. It has lower strength than the others with 350 PSI due to two parts lime, one part cement, and nine parts sand. While it usually isn’t durable enough for outdoor uses, type O is preferred for interior brick walls and smaller projects. It’s better for restoration parts and to bring historic brick chimneys and walls back to life. The low PSI gives it enhanced sealing and adhesive properties.
You need professionals to carry out the tuckpointing job well. The tuckpointing process has several steps. First is removing old, deteriorated mortar to the desired depth, usually ¼ inch to ¾ inch. After grinding out the old mortar to the required depth, the new mortar is tucked into the joints using a pointing trowel.
Overall, the conditions of the brick joints in terms of size, accessibility, and extent of deterioration determine the price charged by contractors for tuckpointing. Also, different contractors quote differently depending on their experience and expertise. Costs lie anywhere between $5 and $10 per square foot for the first 10 feet height of the walls where much scaffolding 6 is not needed. Beyond 10 feet high, the cost increases significantly to around $11 to $20 per square foot. One mason working at an average rate of 10 sq. ft per hour should be able to complete a 20 sq. ft wall in two hours for an average cost of $100. Places like chimneys are difficult to reach due to the amount of climbing involved and cost up to two times more. Tuckpointing a 20 sq. ft. area of chimney wall can cost $200 and take around four hours for one mason.
Labour makes 50% or more of the total tuckpointing cost involved. If the 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 increases 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. The contractor needs to be insured, which translates to extra costs for the project.
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. Project costs can vary from $250 for more budget-friendly options or as high as $15,000 for complex, large-scale projects. While the cost to tuckpoint a whole house depends on the overall square footage, some other factors are also important. Contractors look at the size of the project in square feet and consider the current condition of the brick wall, how much prep work is needed, and what kind of tools are required to get the job done. Below are some of the common sizes of brick walls and the associated cost to tuckpoint a brick house with an electric grinder.
|Square Feet||Average Price (Including Labor)|
|10 sq. ft.||$250|
|50 sq. ft.||$1,000|
|100 sq. ft.||$1,500|
|500 sq. ft.||$2,500|
|1,000 sq. ft.||$5,000|
|2,000 sq. ft.||$10,000|
|3,000 sq. ft.||$15,000|
Some contractors price their tuckpointing projects per linear foot. While this measurement is most commonly used for lumber, it comes in handy for tuckpointing and similar work. For standard modular brick walls with a width of around two inches, 5.5 linear feet can be estimated for each square foot of wall space. The average cost per linear foot for tuckpointing is $1 to $5. This table indicates some common linear feet measurements for brick wall tuckpointing and the average project costs, including materials and labor, ranging between $250 on the low end and $15,000 on the high end.
|Linear Feet||Average Price (Including Labor)|
|55 linear feet||$250|
|275 linear feet||$1,000|
|550 linear feet||$1,500|
|2,750 linear feet||$2,500|
|5,500 linear feet||$5,000|
|11,000 linear feet||$10,000|
|16,500 linear feet||$15,000|
The average cost to tuckpoint a chimney is $10 to $25 per square foot, so tuckpointing a 13 sq. ft. chimney costs $130 to $325. Tuckpointing a chimney is different from tuckpointing an average wall mainly due to the height. Any extra costs involved are due to working at extreme heights. Working at heights requires added time and equipment such as ladders or scaffolding. Something else to keep in mind with the chimney tuck point repair cost is labor. Prices can double when working on a rooftop chimney compared to ground level projects. If the chimney is readily accessible from both the inside and outside of the house, the contractor may charge slightly less than if it can only be accessed from one spot.
While working on a chimney tuckpointing project, professionals may notice additional chimney issues that otherwise go unnoticed. If the brick is severely compromised, the chimney’s structural integrity is at risk, or other problems arise, the contractor may recommend further chimney repairs. On average, homeowners pay $350 for a replacement chimney cap and $900 to repair a chimney crown. If the clay, metal, or tile chimney liner needs to be replaced, expect to pay between $1,800 and $2,500. Masonry chimney repairs for larger projects are typically $1,000 to $3,000.
A few things should be done before tuckpointing brick, especially concerning the initial inspection and repairs. To figure out how much tuckpointing needs to be done, it’s important to inspect the home for signs of a deteriorated brick surface. Homeowners can watch out for clear indications of problem areas, which can be confirmed by contractors for little or no charge as part of a pre-work inspection. Areas where powdered, unlevel, or missing mortar appear should be tuckpointed, especially bricks that show full-depth mortar deterioration.
If the wall is damaged, you may want to repair broken brick ahead of filling the mortar gaps. The average brick wall crack repair cost is $10 to $20 per square foot. The other main step to follow ahead of tuckpointing is wetting the brick wall, so the mortar has enough moisture to set and stick thoroughly. Before adding the new mortar, the existing mortar needs to be ground or hammered away and removed at least one inch deep, with all dust particles and debris cleaned out.
Most labor in tuckpointing consists of grinding out deteriorated mortar to the required depths in joints. Established contractors who already have electric grinders can lower costs by around 20%. Individual handymen can do small sections of walls with a chisel and hammer. If the job takes 60 minutes to a few hours, hiring an electronic grinder will be more expensive than just working with manual tools. To hire an electric grinder costs between $50 and $200 per day, depending on the area.
Hand tuckpointing is typically recommended for small sections on single level homes or front-facing walls where the main focus is on improving the aesthetic appeal rather than the structural integrity. Tuckpointing with an electric grinder produces a more uniform result. However, it may not bring out quite as much color and design in the brick compared to the precision of hand tuckpointing.
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 the look of brick walls and support the structure. Repointing is required when the brick is at risk of serious damage or collapse.
Tuckpointing is more common for historic restorations, matching the mortar color to the brick with contrasting grooves to produce a smooth, tight finish. Repointing is more about maintenance and may take place every 15 to 30 years. As a utility repair rather than an aesthetic improvement, repointing is usually used when moisture is getting in the joints, and the brick wall needs to be strengthened and protected. The old mortar is stripped down and replaced with new mortar to keep the wall intact for years to come.
The average cost for tuckpointing is $5 to $10 per square foot, while the average cost of repointing is around $3 to $12 per square foot on average. Both projects increase in price if the wall is higher than eight feet or it's in a hard to reach place, such as the chimney. For taller brick walls, the average price per sq. ft. is $10 to $20. An extensive tuckpointing or repointing project by hand will also cost more than using an electric grinder to wear down the existing mortar.
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 to create a pleasant contrast. Decorative work costs around $7 to $10 per sq. ft. and roughly $140 to $200 for a 20 sq. ft. wall.
You can add caulk in the joints next to windows hence improving the wall’s cosmetic value. These decorative measures increase the cost slightly, usually by 5% to 10%. The services of an experienced painter cost around $20 to $35 per hour. Hiring a painter to neatly add caulk to the joints on a 20 sq. ft. wall section will cost $40 to $70 for a maximum of two hours needed to complete the job.
Chimney caps wear down over time. When they wear through, your chimney is exposed to potential water damage both inside and out. A new chimney cap costs between $300 and $600, depending on the size and location of your chimney.
Some situations like area weather may call for waterproofing the mortar joints after tuckpointing. The entry of water into the wall cavity may cause spalling of the wall and irreparable cracks. Waterproofing can cost around $5 to $15 for the 20 sq. ft. wall. In cold, humid weather, waterproofing should be done soon after tuckpointing. This step is important because cold weather has more destructive effects on mortar.
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.
Tuckpointing brick costs between $5 and $10 per sq. ft. for the first 10 feet before increasing to $10 to $20 per square foot for any higher walls. The average 20 sq. ft. tuckpointing project with an electric grinder costs around $500.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.