Tuck pointing has also been referred to as pointing or repointing. Although pointing and repointing are not exactly tuckpointing, many people refer to them as the same thing. Tuckpointing is the use of two mortar colors, one that is the color of the bricks used and the other is normally a contrasting color. The two colors are used to give the appearance that very fine and neat joints have been made. Whereas pointing is the process of correcting defects within the masonry or to finish the joints in new masonry. Repointing is the process of repairing worn and weathered joints in old masonry.
Use of Tuckpointing
Tuckpointing is used to remove deteriorated mortar from the head joints of buildings, chimneys and any structure that was built with bricks or other types of blocks. When the mortar becomes old or weathered, it loses its ability to keep water out. This will eventually lead to major structural damage to the building or structure. Therefore to preserve the building or structure, tuckpointing should be done about every 20 years or so. Tuckpointing is also used on new structures using colored mortar to ensure a clean look to the new joints.
There are specific tools required when performing tuckpointing. In the past chisels, pointing trowels and wire brushes were the necessary tools for the job. And while these primitive tools are still used, pneumatic saws and right-angle grinders are also used. Nowadays, there are laser cutting tools and diamond edged blades that will not dull or break.
The actual process of tuckpointing requires precise cutting and removal of the worn and weathered mortar. This is usually done by making horizontally and vertically with a blade that is just a little bit thinner than the joint being cut. It is generally practiced to hold the saw between the waist and chest to give the user better visibility and also better balance. While removing the mortar, the mason will need to monitor the dust and debris being created. A special vacuum is used to corral the dust and keep the work and surrounding area clean of any toxins and dust from the removal of the old mortar. After the mortar is removed, the entire area needs to be cleaned up. Once the cleanup is complete, then the masons will begin to add the new mortar and repair any bricks or blocks that have been damaged.
While it seems that tuckpointing is a dying craft, there are still several masons who can perform the tasks. There will always be old buildings or structures in need of tuckpointing as well as new structures that will require tuckpointing. Masons will always be in need and even if they become fewer and fewer, their trade will never completely diminish.