When it comes to maintaining the integrity and appearance of your building, understanding what is repointing is crucial. What is repointing? It involves the careful replacement of the outer part of mortar joints in masonry, which not only enhances structural stability but also improves aesthetic appeal. This essential maintenance can prevent significant damages caused by environmental wear and tear, ensuring your building remains safe and visually appealing for years to come.

What is Repointing?

Repointing is a crucial maintenance process where the old, deteriorated mortar between the bricks or stones of a wall is carefully removed and replaced with fresh mortar. When done correctly, this not only boosts the building’s visual appeal but also significantly enhances its durability. By reinforcing the joints with new mortar, repointing helps a structure withstand various weather conditions and prolongs its overall lifespan. It’s a key maintenance step that preserves both the beauty and functionality of masonry work.

Why is Repointing Necessary?

Repointing isn’t just a cosmetic fix; it’s a vital restoration that has significant implications for a building’s longevity and safety. Let’s break down why it’s so crucial:

Preserving Structural Integrity

The mortar in masonry works much like the glue in a wooden structure; it holds the bricks or stones together. Over time, environmental factors such as rain, frost, and heat can cause the mortar to deteriorate. This weakening of the mortar can lead to a decrease in structural stability. By replacing old, crumbling mortar with new, strong mortar, repointing helps maintain the structural integrity of a building. This is particularly important in areas prone to severe weather, as compromised masonry can pose a risk during storms or earthquakes.

Preventing Water Damage

One of the most critical functions of repointing is to prevent water from infiltrating the building. When mortar breaks down, it creates pathways for water to enter, which can lead to significant problems such as mold, mildew, and interior water damage. Moreover, in colder climates, freeze-thaw cycles can exacerbate these issues, as water trapped inside the walls can freeze and expand, causing further damage to the masonry. By ensuring that the joints between bricks or stones are well-sealed, repointing reduces the risk of water ingress and the associated damages.

Avoiding More Significant Issues

Neglecting the need for repointing can lead to more extensive and costly repairs down the line. For instance, water infiltration can not only damage the aesthetic appearance of a building but can also weaken its foundations, leading to structural failures. Additionally, the presence of moisture can accelerate the corrosion of metal elements like wall ties and support beams, which are integral to a building’s structure. Regular repointing can help catch and address minor issues before they turn into major problems, ensuring the building remains safe and stable for its occupants.

Enhancing Energy Efficiency

A less obvious but equally important benefit of repointing is the improvement in a building’s thermal efficiency. Gaps in mortar can lead to drafts and increased heating and cooling costs. By sealing these gaps, repointing helps maintain a more consistent indoor temperature, reducing the need for excessive heating or air conditioning. This not only makes the building more comfortable but also more energy-efficient, which can lead to cost savings over time.

Maintaining Property Value

From a real estate perspective, a well-maintained building is always more valuable. Repointing can significantly enhance the curb appeal of a property, making it more attractive to potential buyers or renters. It shows a commitment to upkeep and can signal that other elements of the property are also well cared for.

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How is Repointing Done?

Repointing is a detailed and skillful process that requires precision and understanding of masonry techniques. It generally involves four main steps: Mortar Removal, Mortar Matching, Application Process, and Curing and Protection. Let’s explore each step to understand how professionals ensure the longevity and durability of masonry through repointing.

1. Mortar Removal

The first step in the repointing process is removing the old, deteriorated mortar. This must be done with great care to avoid damaging the bricks or stones. Traditionally, masons use hand tools such as chisels and hammers to chip away the old mortar. They strike carefully to ensure they do not crack or break the masonry units. For deeper or more stubborn mortar, power tools like angle grinders fitted with a diamond blade might be used. However, these tools require a skilled hand to control the depth and prevent damage to the bricks, making this a task best left to experienced professionals.

2. Mortar Matching

After removing the old mortar, the next step is to prepare a new mortar that matches the existing mortar in color, composition, and texture. This step is crucial because the new mortar must integrate seamlessly with the structure, both for aesthetic reasons and to maintain the structural integrity of the wall. The new mortar typically consists of a mix of sand, lime, and cement. For historical buildings, the match must be particularly precise, often requiring custom mixes to replicate the original materials and methods used in the building’s initial construction.

3. Application Process

With the old mortar removed and the new mortar prepared, the next task is to apply the mortar to the joints. This is done using a pointing trowel, and the technique used is critical to the success of the repointing. The mortar must be pressed firmly into the joints to ensure there are no air pockets or gaps. The depth of the mortar is also significant; it should be filled flush with the surface of the masonry to protect the joint and provide a clean, uniform look. The skill of the mason plays a significant role in this step, as evenly filled and smoothed joints will determine the final appearance and durability of the repointing work.

4. Curing and Protection

The final step in the repointing process is curing, which allows the mortar to slowly set and harden. Proper curing is crucial for the strength and longevity of the mortar. The newly repointed areas should be kept moist, often covered with a damp cloth or periodically misted with water, to prevent the mortar from drying too quickly, which can lead to cracks and weak joints. This step is particularly important in varying climates, as extreme heat or cold can adversely affect the curing process.

Challenges and Considerations in Repointing

Challenges and Considerations in Repointing

Repointing may seem straightforward, but it involves several challenges and considerations that require attention to detail and expertise. Here’s a detailed look at some of the main challenges and why professional help is often necessary.

Matching Old and New Mortar

Matching the new mortar to the existing one in terms of color, composition, and texture is one of the most significant challenges in repointing, especially in older or historical buildings. Here’s why it’s so tricky:

  • Color Matching: The original mortar may have weathered and changed color over time, making it difficult to create a perfect match. Additionally, the original materials used might no longer be available, requiring a custom mix that mimics the old material.
  • Composition and Texture: The strength and durability of the new mortar should match the old to prevent differential rates of expansion and contraction, which can cause further damage. The texture also needs to be consistent to ensure that the repointing does not stand out, preserving the aesthetic integrity of the building.

To address these challenges, a detailed analysis is often conducted, including laboratory tests of the existing mortar to understand its properties fully. Professionals then use this information to create a mix that closely matches in all respects.

Hiring Professional Help

The complexity of matching mortar and the precision required in the repointing process underline the importance of hiring skilled professionals. Here’s why expert involvement is crucial:

  • Experience and Precision: Skilled masons bring years of experience and knowledge, crucial for tackling the varied challenges that can arise during repointing. They have the expertise to choose the right tools, techniques, and materials for the job.
  • Avoiding Common Mistakes: Inexperienced work can lead to several issues, such as using too hard a mortar mix that can damage the historic fabric of a building, or poor application techniques that fail to seal the joints adequately.
  • Ensuring Durability: Professional masons ensure that the job is done right the first time, extending the life of the masonry and avoiding future expenses for corrections or additional repairs.

When to Hire a Professional

Here are a few scenarios where it’s advisable to hire a professional:

  • Historic Buildings: Any repointing work on historic buildings should be handled by specialists to preserve the structure’s integrity and comply with any legal preservation requirements.
  • Large Scale Projects: Larger buildings or those with extensive deterioration will benefit from the efficiency and expertise professionals bring.
  • Complex Architecture: Buildings with intricate masonry patterns or those requiring significant structural assessments should always be handled by experts.
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Benefits of Proper Repointing

Repointing is not just a routine maintenance task; it’s a critical investment in the longevity and functionality of a building. Here’s a closer look at the key benefits of proper repointing:

Enhanced Structural Stability

Repointing significantly contributes to a building’s structural stability. Here’s how it helps:

  • Support and Strength: Mortar plays a crucial role in distributing loads evenly across a brick or stone wall. Over time, as mortar erodes, this balance can be disrupted, leading to instability. By replacing old, crumbling mortar, repointing restores this balance, ensuring that the wall can support structural loads safely and effectively.
  • Prevention of Structural Damage: Regular repointing prevents the development of larger cracks and gaps where water can enter and freeze, which would otherwise lead to significant structural damage through freeze-thaw cycles.

This proactive maintenance not only keeps the building upright and intact but also ensures that minor issues don’t turn into major structural failures.

Aesthetic Improvements

Aesthetic enhancement is one of the most immediate and noticeable benefits of repointing. Here are some ways in which repointing boosts a building’s aesthetics:

  • Visual Cohesion: Fresh mortar can dramatically improve the overall look of a building. Whether it’s a historic property or a more modern construction, repointing cleans up the appearance of dingy, cracked mortar, giving the facade a refreshed and renewed look.
  • Increased Property Value: Buildings that look well-maintained are more appealing to buyers and renters. Repointing can increase a property’s market value and curb appeal, making it a wise investment for property owners looking to sell or rent their spaces.

Improved Energy Efficiency

Repointing also plays a significant role in enhancing a building’s energy efficiency. Here’s how it contributes:

  • Sealing Drafts: By filling in the gaps and cracks in the mortar, repointing helps to seal out drafts that can lead to air leaks. This sealing improves the thermal envelope of a building, keeping warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer.
  • Reducing Heating and Cooling Costs: Improved insulation due to effective repointing can lead to noticeable reductions in heating and cooling costs. By maintaining a more stable interior climate, HVAC systems do not have to work as hard, which can significantly reduce energy consumption and utility bills.

Potential Pitfalls of Improper Repointing

Improper repointing can lead to several significant issues that compromise a building’s structure and can incur substantial costs. Understanding these pitfalls highlights the importance of doing repointing correctly.

Long-term Damage Risks

Improper repointing can have several detrimental effects on a building’s health, primarily due to the use of incorrect materials or techniques. Here’s what can go wrong:

  • Moisture Penetration: If the new mortar is not compatible with the brick or stone, it can either be too hard or too soft, leading to improper sealing. This mismatch can allow moisture to penetrate the masonry, leading to damage such as spalling (where the surface of the brick peels, pops out, or flakes off) and the deterioration of the brick beneath the surface.
  • Thermal Stress: Mortar that is too rigid can prevent the masonry from expanding and contracting with temperature changes, leading to cracks. Over time, these cracks can expand and cause significant structural damage.
  • Chemical Incompatibility: Using a mortar mix that is chemically incompatible with the existing masonry can lead to accelerated decay of both the mortar and the masonry units, undermining the structural integrity of the wall.

Cost Implications of Repointing Errors

The financial implications of needing to redo faulty repointing can be considerable. Here are some potential costs involved:

  • Repair Costs: The cost of correcting poor repointing work can often exceed the original expense due to the need for more extensive diagnostic work, the removal of the faulty mortar, and the application of new mortar.
  • Increased Maintenance Costs: Incorrectly repointed walls may require more frequent repairs and maintenance. This adds to the long-term upkeep costs of the building.
  • Reduced Property Value: A building with visible signs of poor maintenance, such as cracking or crumbling mortar, can suffer. This affects its market value, impacting potential resale or rental profits.

Table: Overview of Risks and Costs Associated with Improper Repointing

Risk/Cost FactorImpact on BuildingFinancial Implication
Moisture PenetrationLeads to structural damage and potential interior damage.High repair costs to fix structural and interior issues.
Thermal StressCauses cracking and structural weakening.Costs for structural reinforcement and repair.
Chemical IncompatibilityAccelerates the decay of masonry units and mortar.Extensive costs in materials and specialized labor.


Understanding what is repointing is vital for any building owner concerned with upkeep and longevity. Properly executed, repointing enhances both the structural integrity and the aesthetic value of your property. If you’re looking for a professional contractor for your repointing needs, consider reaching out to a specialist. You can contact us at +(1) 917-477-9667 for expert guidance and service. Maintain the robustness and beauty of your masonry structures with our help.


Q: What exactly is repointing in masonry?

A: Repointing is the process of renewing the pointing, or the external part of mortar joints, in masonry work. This process is crucial as it helps maintain the building’s aesthetic integrity. It ensures structural stability by preventing moisture from entering the masonry system.

Q: Why should I consider repointing for my building?

A: If you’re noticing signs of mortar wear, such as cracking or crumbling, then understanding what is repointing is essential. Implementing it is crucial. It restores the durability of your masonry walls, ensuring they withstand environmental challenges effectively.

Q: How often should what is repointing be conducted on my property?

A: The frequency of what is repointing depends on several factors. These include the age of the building, the quality of previous mortar jobs, and exposure to harsh weather conditions. Typically, we recommend checking your masonry every 25 to 30 years.

Q: What are the risks of delaying what is re-pointing?

A: Delaying what is repointing can lead to severe structural issues, including significant water damage inside the building. The longer you wait, the more extensive (and expensive) the damage can become, making timely repointing critical.

Q: Can I do what is re-pointing myself, or should I hire professionals?

A: You can sometimes handle minor repointing as a DIY project. However, for extensive work, especially in historical buildings, we recommend hiring professionals. They have the expertise to match mortars and apply them correctly, ensuring long-lasting results.

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