Bad repointing can significantly undermine the structural integrity and aesthetic appeal of a building. It typically occurs when the mortar used in the repointing process is either inadequate or incorrectly applied. Understanding the signs and consequences of bad repointing is crucial for maintaining the value and safety of your property. This article explores the critical aspects of bad repointing, offering insights into its prevention, identification, and rectification.

What is Bad Repointing?

Repointing, essentially, is the process of renewing the ‘pointing,’ or the outer part of mortar joints, in brickwork or stonework. When this process is executed improperly, it results in what’s known as bad repointing. This issue commonly arises from several factors such as using inappropriate materials, lack of skilled craftsmanship, or failing to match the new mortar with the original in terms of color, texture, and strength. It’s not just about aesthetics—using the wrong mortar can affect the structural integrity of the masonry.

Signs of Bad Repointing

Bad repointing can manifest in several ways, each indicating neglect or poor workmanship. Recognizing these signs early can save you a significant amount of time and money in repairs. Here’s a closer look at the typical indicators:

1. Cracking and Crumbling

When you see cracks or crumbling in the mortar, it’s a clear sign that the mortar mix was either poorly chosen or improperly applied. This deterioration can lead to more extensive damage if not addressed quickly. Cracks typically appear when the mortar dries too fast or shrinks excessively, often due to a mix with incorrect proportions of ingredients. As these cracks expand, they can cause bricks to loosen, compromising the structural integrity of the wall.

2. Mismatched Mortar

Mismatched mortar doesn’t just affect the visual appeal of a building; it also has practical implications. If the new mortar is harder or less permeable than the existing mortar, it can lead to accelerated deterioration of the original material. This mismatch often arises from using modern cement in older buildings that originally used lime-based mortar, leading to a patchy appearance and potential physical damage over time.

3. Water Infiltration

One of the most detrimental consequences of bad repointing is water infiltration. Effective repointing should seal the joints between masonry units tightly to prevent water from entering. If water does seep through, it can cause a range of issues, from mildew and mold inside the building to freeze-thaw damage in colder climates, where trapped water expands and contracts, further breaking the masonry apart. This type of damage not only threatens the building’s facade but can also affect its structural stability.

Recognizing these signs provides an opportunity to rectify the issue before it leads to severe structural problems. Regular inspections and addressing any defects early with professional help can ensure that your masonry remains sound and attractive.

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How to Fix Bad Repointing

Repairing bad repointing is crucial to safeguarding the integrity and aesthetics of your building. Here’s a detailed guide on how to address this issue effectively:

1. Assessment

The first step in fixing bad repointing involves a thorough inspection conducted by a masonry expert. This professional will assess the extent of the damage and determine the specific areas that need attention. It’s essential to identify not only the visibly damaged sections but also those that might pose problems in the future. This comprehensive evaluation helps in planning the subsequent steps accurately.

2. Removal

Once the problem areas are identified, the next step is the careful removal of the faulty mortar. This must be done delicately to avoid damaging the surrounding bricks or stones. Specialized tools, such as a plugging chisel or a grinder fitted with a diamond blade, are used to remove the old mortar to an appropriate depth, ensuring that the new mortar has enough space to bond effectively.

3. Selection of the Right Mortar

Choosing the right mortar is pivotal. The new mortar must match the original not only in color but also in composition and permeability. This compatibility is crucial because using a mortar that is too hard or too soft compared to the existing material can cause further damage. A masonry expert can analyze the original mortar and create or source a matching mix, which will integrate well with the existing masonry.

4. Proper Technique

Applying the mortar correctly is just as important as the removal process. The technique used must ensure that the mortar fills the joints evenly and bonds well with the bricks or stones. This involves meticulously tamping the mortar into the joints, using tools like a pointing trowel, and ensuring that there are no air pockets or gaps. After filling, the mortar should be tooled to match the style of the original joints, which helps in water runoff and achieving a visually pleasing finish.

These steps, when followed correctly, not only restore the structural integrity of the masonry but also enhance the building’s overall appearance. Always remember, the key to a successful repointing project lies in meticulous execution and attention to detail. Don’t hesitate to consult with or hire experienced professionals who specialize in historic or traditional masonry, as their expertise can make a significant difference in the quality of the work.

Preventing Bad Repointing

Preventing Bad Repointing

Preventing bad repointing is not just about addressing issues as they arise; it’s about proactive measures to ensure the longevity and aesthetic integrity of your masonry. Here are the key strategies to prevent poor repointing practices:

Hire Qualified Professionals

Choosing the right contractor is the first step in preventing bad repointing. It’s crucial to select masonry experts who have extensive experience and positive reviews. Look for professionals who specialize in the type of building and masonry work you need. Certified contractors who adhere to industry standards will more likely deliver high-quality work that stands the test of time.

Quality Materials

The use of high-quality materials cannot be overstated. For repointing, the mortar mix must not only match the historical character and color of the existing mortar but also its physical properties. Using the correct type of mortar enhances the durability and compatibility with the existing masonry, thereby preventing problems related to mismatched materials that could lead to premature deterioration.

Regular Maintenance

Routine maintenance is essential for early detection and resolution of potential masonry issues before they escalate into significant problems. Scheduling regular inspections with a masonry professional can help identify areas where the mortar may be failing or where water infiltration is occurring. Addressing these issues promptly ensures that minor repairs are made before costly and extensive restoration becomes necessary.

By implementing these preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering bad repointing and ensure that your building maintains its structural health and visual appeal for years to come.

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The Costs Associated with Bad Repointing

Addressing bad repointing is not just about preserving the visual and structural integrity of your building—it also has significant financial implications. Understanding the costs associated with neglecting repointing issues can help you appreciate the importance of timely and proper maintenance. Here’s a breakdown:

Immediate Repair Costs

Neglecting early signs of bad repointing can lead to more severe damage, requiring extensive repairs. The cost of these repairs can be substantially higher than routine maintenance due to the increased labor and materials needed to correct deeper structural issues. For instance, extensive water damage caused by poor repointing might require not just re-mortaring but also replacing damaged bricks or even structural supports.

Long-Term Structural Costs

Over time, bad repointing can compromise the structural stability of a building. This might lead to sagging walls, a compromised foundation, or severe water damage. The costs for these types of repairs can escalate quickly, especially if the building requires structural reinforcement or comprehensive restoration.

Decrease in Property Value

Properties with structural issues, particularly those that stem from visible or known problems like bad repointing, can see a decrease in market value. Potential buyers or real estate appraisers often view such issues as a liability, leading to lower property valuation. This can affect your return on investment if you decide to sell the property.

Table: Estimated Costs of Neglecting Repointing

IssueImmediate Cost RangeLong-Term Cost Range
Minor Repointing$5 – $10 per sq. ft.Not applicable
Extensive Damage Repair$10 – $30 per sq. ft.Up to $50 per sq. ft.
Structural Repairs$30 – $100 per sq. ft.$100+ per sq. ft.
Total Property Depreciation5% – 10% of property value10% – 20% of property value

These figures are illustrative and can vary based on location, the extent of damage, and the type of property.

By investing in quality repointing work and regular maintenance, you can avoid these significant costs and maintain, or even enhance, your property’s value. Remember, it’s cheaper to prevent damage than to repair it—both in terms of financial cost and the preservation of your property’s heritage and structural integrity.


If you’ve identified signs of bad repointing on your property, addressing them promptly is essential to prevent further damage. Proper repointing not only enhances your property’s durability but also its overall aesthetic value. If you’re seeking a professional contractor for quality repointing services, feel free to contact us at +(1) 917-477-9667 for expert assistance.


Q: What causes bad re-pointing?

A: Bad repointing often results from using inappropriate mortar or poor application techniques. These mistakes can lead to serious damage over time, compromising the building’s structural integrity.

Q: How can I identify bad repointing on my property?

A: Look for signs like cracking mortar, mismatched mortar colors, and water infiltration. Each of these can indicate that the repointing work was not performed correctly.

Q: What are the risks of ignoring bad repointing?

A: Ignoring bad repointing can lead to extensive structural damage, increased repair costs, and a decrease in property value. It’s essential to address these issues promptly to maintain your property’s health.

Q: How often should I check for bad repointing?

A: It’s wise to inspect your property for bad repointing at least once every few years or after severe weather conditions, which can exacerbate existing problems.

Q: Can bad repointing be fixed, or does it require complete redoing?

A: Depending on the extent of the damage, bad repointing can often be fixed without redoing the entire section. However, severe cases might require a more comprehensive approach.

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