Techniques > Briefs > Repointing Mortar Joints >


• Micro of sand
• Joint profiles
• Brisk types, manufacturers
• flash, range of brick

• Brick Institute of America
11490 Commerce Park Drive
Reston, VA 22091

Other Factors to Consider


Regardless of the color of the binder or colored additives, the sand is the primary material that gives mortar its color. A surprising variety of colors of sand may be found in a single sample of historic mortar, and the different sizes of the grains of sand or other materials, such as incompletely ground lime or cement, play an important role in the texture of the repointing mortar.

Therefore, when specifying sand for repointing mortar, it may be necessary to obtain sand from several sources and to combine or screen them in order to approximate the range of sand colors and grain sizes in the historic mortar sample.

Pointing Style

Close examination of the historic masonry wall and the techniques used in the original construction will assist in maintaining the visual qualities of the building. Pointing styles and the methods of producing them should be examined. It is important to look at both the horizontal and the vertical joints to determine the order in which they were tooled and whether they were the same style.

Some late-19th and early-20th century buildings, for example, have horizontal joints that were raked back while the vertical joints were finished flush and stained to match the bricks, thus creating the illusion of horizontal bands. Pointing styles may also differ from one facade to another; front walls often received greater attention to mortar detailing than side and rear walls.

Tuckpointing is not true repointing but the application of a raised joint or lime putty joint on top of flush mortar joints. Penciling is a purely decorative, painted surface treatment over a mortar joint, often in a contrasting color.

Masonry Units

The masonry units should also be examined so that any replacement units will match the historic masonry. Within a wall there may be a wide range of colors, textures, and sizes, particularly with hand-made brick or rough-cut, locally-quarried stone. Replacement units should blend in with the full range of masonry units rather than a single brick or stone.