Techniques > Briefs > Repointing Mortar Joints >


• causes of deterioration
• monitoring, telltale
• analysis, diagnosis, prognosis

• State Historic Preservation Offices
• Masons

Identifying the Problem Before Repointing

The decision to repoint is most often related to some obvious sign of deterioration, such as:

  • disintegrating mortar,
  • cracks in mortar joints,
  • loose bricks or stones,
  • damp walls, or
  • damaged plasterwork.

It is, however, erroneous to assume that repointing alone will solve deficiencies that result from other problems. The root cause of the deterioration — leaking roofs or gutters, differential settlement of the building, capillary action causing rising damp, or extreme weather exposure — should always be dealt with prior to beginning work. Without appropriate repairs to eliminate the source of the problem, mortar deterioration will continue and any repointing will have been a waste of time and money.

Use of Consultants

Because there are so many possible causes for deterioration in historic buildings, it may be desirable to retain a consultant, such as a historic architect or architectural conservator, to analyze the building.

In addition to determining the most appropriate solutions to the problems, a consultant can prepare specifications which reflect the particular requirements of each job and can provide oversight of the work in progress.

Referrals to preservation consultants frequently can be obtained from State Historic Preservation Offices, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), the Association for Preservation Technology (APT), and local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).