Techniques > Briefs > Repointing Mortar Joints >


• coordination of work: cleaning
• scaffolding, protection

Budgeting and Scheduling

Repointing is both expensive and time consuming due to the extent of handwork and special materials required. It is preferable to repoint only those areas that require work rather than an entire wall, as is often specified. But, if 25 to 50 per cent or more of a wall needs to be repointed, repointing the entire wall may be more cost effective than spot repointing.

Total repointing may also be more sensible when access is difficult, requiring the erection of expensive scaffolding (unless the majority of the mortar is sound and unlikely to require replacement in the foreseeable future). Each project requires judgement based on a variety of factors. Recognizing this at the outset will help to prevent many jobs from becoming prohibitively expensive.

In scheduling, seasonal aspects need to be considered first. Generally speaking, wall temperatures between 40 and 95 degrees F (8 and 38 degrees C) will prevent freezing or excessive evaporation of the water in the mortar. Ideally, repointing should be done in shade, away from strong sunlight in order to slow the drying process, especially during hot weather. If necessary, shade can be provided for large-scale projects with appropriate modifications to scaffolding.

The relationship of repointing to other work proposed on the building must also be recognized. For example, if paint removal or cleaning is anticipated, and if the mortar joints are basically sound and need only selective repointing, it is generally better to postpone repointing until after completion of these activities. However, if the mortar has eroded badly, allowing moisture to penetrate deeply into the wall, repointing should be accomplished before cleaning. Related work, such as structural or roof repairs, should be scheduled so that they do not interfere with repointing and so that all work can take maximum advantage of erected scaffolding.

Building managers also must recognize the difficulties that a repointing project can create. The process is time consuming, and scaffolding may need to remain in place for an extended period of time. The joint preparation process can be quite noisy and can generate large quantities of dust which must be controlled, especially at air intakes to protect human health, and also where it might damage operating machinery. Entrances may be blocked from time to time making access difficult for both building tenants and visitors. Clearly, building managers will need to coordinate the repointing work with other events at the site.