Ye Olde Tuck-pointing: Historically Accurate Repairs

Different from Tuckpointing History, Looking for that? Look Here —->  Tuck-pointing Confusion; Historically & Geographically.

What is Historical Tuckpointing

Historical tuckpointing, in America, (check out link above for elsewhere) is the method of tuckpointing to restore the mortar joints as they were laid, a hundred years ago or more. Using the same ingredients for the mortar mix and using the same products for mortar coloring.

What’s so different about tuckpointing and mortar joint done long ago vs How it’s done now?

Well, very little has changed about the process of laying brick or tuckpointing over the last century. Mortar has always been a cement based product with some form of Portland, lime and sand/aggregate. Where the real changes have taken place, is how the products used to lay brick and/or tuckpoint are made. A great deal, in-fact, has changed.

Getting the materials on site

Then: Less advanced logistics made acquiring material from anywhere far away, unlikely. The solution: Acquire materials on site or near-by. Anyone familiar with the soil in suburban St. Louis knows how dense and clay filled it can be. That clay was used in firing of many bricks to build this city. The sand at the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers were a perfect aggregate choice for the mortar mix.

Now: In 5 minutes I can have a pallet of premixed mortar and brick from anywhere in the world on its way to my front door.

Making the mix for mortar

Then: The processes for making the ingredients (Portland Cement and Slaked Lime) have evolved. (Portland Cement is made from crushed limestone. Lime, for use in masonry, had to be treated with water to make slaked lime or calcium hydroxide.)  Before we had the ability to mass produce masonry material, a lot of this was done by hand.

The ratios of Portland cement, lime, sand and color

Now: I can pick-up a bag Premix Mortar at my local masonry supply store. Just add water, color if needed, and I am ready to point or lay brick.

Coloring Your Mix: Black & White turns into Tie-dyed Tuckpointing

More in-depth info can be found at a previous article… mortar coloring.

Then: Colors were limited by what could be used as a dye.

Now: With advanced technology in the masonry field, we can tuckpoint with any color in the rainbow. Granted, the more oddball colors, like green or purple are rarely used. When you have your wall tuckpointed, it’s a choice you’ll live with, for a long time.

How to tell exactly what was used for the original mix….

Samples are sent for analysis to a lab. From there, they can determine the kind of aggregate/sand used and where it came from as well as the ratio of cement, lime to sand and color. And once reported back to us, the wall is prepped, the mix is duplicated, and tuckpointing begins.

That’s all for now… Apologies for cutting it short there at the end, my son wants to build a “hot-wheels loopty loo” Talking tuckpointing is fun, but not that fun.

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