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Britelite Tips: DIY Repointing

It’s only February, and it was snowing only recently, but can you sense the start of spring in the air? Spring brings with it many things – better weather, lambs, blooming flowers, and for many people the itch to do a bit of DIY home improvement.

One potential project is repointing. It could be triggered by anything – seeing the fresh damage of winter on your home’s exterior, a snide remark from a relative at a family event, or maybe it’s been something you’ve been thinking about for a while, but have kept putting off. Regardless, if you’re reading this you’re considering doing your own repointing. Great news! DIY is good for the soul.

But there are some things that can go wrong. If it’s done badly, you could get mortar spread all over your beautiful brickwork, you could get the colour tone wrong, and because mortar is the main defence against water seepage you could find your belongings a little damp. To help you out, we’ve assembled some top tips to make sure your project takes shape the way you want.

Top Tip Number 1: Safety First, Kids

Repointing doesn’t have to be a particularly daring exercise, as long as you look after yourself. It’s likely you’ll be working at height, so don’t work alone – make sure someone is there to spot you at all times while you’re up on the ladder.

As well as this, we highly recommend wearing a face mask that covers both your mouth and nose, as well as safety goggles. A dust-caused coughing fit is more than a mild inconvenience when you’re up off the ground.

Top Tip Number 2: Use Easy-Mix Mortar Products

Don’t make your job harder than it needs to be. There are plenty of excellent easy-to-mix mortar products that aren’t too expensive. Just make sure it is matched to the colour of the existing mortar!

The mix needs to be just stiff enough for you to slice and spread it like gritty, grey butter; not so wet that it gets everywhere when you try to apply it. For that reason, don’t try to mix all the mortar you need at once: it won’t all be the same consistency or colour. Only mix as much as you need for each section.

Top Tip Number 3: Remove The Old Mortar Thoroughly

You should take care to cut loose and shave away all the decrepit mortar that has been noticed by eagle-eyed relatives. A small chisel or even a screwdriver can do most of it, and a wire brush can get rid of the tricky bits around the joint.

Remove the mortar to a depth of about 2 cm and carefully brush away debris from the seams and joints. Take your time: you don’t want to damage or scuff the brickwork by carelessly wielding your chisel with reckless abandon. Think Michelangelo, not JCB.

Top Tip Number 4: Work From the Top Down

This may seem obvious but make sure you start from the top down. The other way round and you’ll end up scuffing, damaging and dirtying the beautiful work you’ve already done.

Work your way across the top, doing three or four courses at a time. Fill these courses after you have scraped away the old mortar and then do the vertical joints.

Don’t worry about it looking tidy yet – it’s okay to overlap the joints to ensure an even fill. Once the mortar is nearly dry (this amount of time depends on the weather) your wire brush can come to the rescue, clearing away the excess and leaving the joints finished slightly deeper than the face of the brickwork. If you’re worried that the mortar is drying to quickly before you’re ready to finish, you can always spray it gently with a little water.

We hope you’ve found this article useful. By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to a beautifully repointed wall, and quickly moving on to your next big DIY project. Happy pointing!

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