Re-pointing brick in Back Bay is just as much of a trade as it is an art. Great attention has to be given to every detail of the work to ensure that your commercial property is not only restored to its former, stable condition but also to ensure that it maintains its historical value and appearance.
What is Re-pointing?
Re-pointing brick in Back Bay is the process of removing old, cracked, crumbling and deteriorating mortar from a masonry building and replacing it with fresh new mortar. This may sound like a relatively straightforward method of bringing an old brick or stone structure back to life – and essentially, it is – however, old mortar cannot simply be removed and then replaced with any run-of-the-mill, off of the shelf mortar mix.
While it may be easy to see mortar as just a bonding agent to facilitate brick and stone construction, it is actually so much more. Mortar is: The glue that holds masonry units in place; the cushion that supports the building as it shifts, settles, expands and contracts; and the irrigation channel that draws water away from masonry units, protecting them from salt deposits and sub-surface freezing that lead to efflorescence and cracking.
- Efflorescence is the whitish, powdery deposit or bleached-out appearance that can be seen on bricks and stonework that have been affected by salinated water. Salt can be absorbed by your masonry through rising damp (water absorbed from the ground at the foundation of your building), or because it is a mineral, it may actually already be present in the bricks and stones themselves.
- Water expands by 9% when it freezes, which means any water absorbed by your brick or stonework will expand whenever freezing conditions occur. This will, in effect, cause excessive pressure to build within your masonry units and lead to cracking and crumbling.
- Mortar serves multiple functions. So, if you have been considering re-pointing brick in Back Bay, be sure to speak with a masonry contractor who understands that cracked and crumbling joints cannot simply be filled in with caulking, silicone or Portland cement.
Matching Your Mortar
Matching the mortar that was originally used during the construction of your property is vital, because you want to create a seamless finish that allows the re-pointed sections of your building to blend in perfectly with any joints that were not refurbished. Additionally, you want the new mortar to function in the same capacity as the original.
- New mortar needs to be as water permeable as the mortar that was originally in place. This means that it needs to be able to draw water away from bricks and stones equally as well as the original mix.
- New mortar must be softer than the bricks or stones that it will be supporting. This is so the building will still have the same level of “give” or support as it had when first erected.
If the new mortar is denser and harder than the masonry units that it will be supporting, it will not provide any margin of flexibility, when the building shifts or settles. This will ultimately lead to cracking and crumbling in both the mortar and the masonry units themselves, which can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of damages that could have been avoided.
Getting the Right Mortar Recipe
Accurate recipes for mortar combinations can be achieved through laboratory analyses, which may sound very complex and over the top. However, they are really quite commonplace in cities, such as Boston, that contain so many historical buildings and districts.
We work with a network of local preservation and conservation specialists to ensure that the work we perform is done with precision and in accordance with the guidelines of contemporary preservation practices. We know that many of the properties that we work on are more than just businesses; they are landmarks, and they are a part of the history of our city.
If you have noticed that the mortar of your commercial masonry building has begun to show signs of aging or disintegration, call our team today and schedule your free on-site consultation and estimate. Our team uses a proven combination of old-fashioned principles and modern technology to produce results that leave our clients both satisfied and amazed.