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Preservation Brief #2, Part II

The Old House Web

<< Part 1: All about historic mortars
Budgeting and scheduling Contractor selection Execution of the work Visually examining the mortar and the masonry units Summary Conclusion Taking it further

Budgeting and scheduling

bad joint
A mechanical grinder improperly used to cut out the horizontal joint and incompatible repointing have seriously damaged the 19th century brick.
Photo: NPS files.

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 judgment 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.

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Contractor selection

The ideal way to select a contractor is to ask knowledgeable owners of recently repointed historic buildings for recommendations. Qualified contractors then can provide lists of other repointing projects for inspection. More commonly, however, the contractor for a repointing project is selected through a competitive bidding process over which the client or consultant has only limited control. In this situation it is important to ensure that the specifications stipulate that masons must have a minimum of five years' experience with repointing historic masonry buildings to be eligible to bid on the project. Contracts are awarded to the lowest responsible bidder, and bidders who have performed poorly on other projects usually can be eliminated from consideration on this basis, even if they have the lowest prices.

The contract documents should call for unit prices as well as a base bid. Unit pricing forces the contractor to determine in advance what the cost addition or reduction will be for work which varies from the scope of the base bid. If, for example, the contractor has fifty linear feet less of stone repointing than indicated on the contract documents but thirty linear feet more of brick repointing, it will be easy to determine the final price for the work. Note that each type of work--brick repointing, stone repointing, or similar items--will have its own unit price. The unit price also should reflect quantities; one linear foot of pointing in five different spots will be more expensive than five contiguous linear feet.

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Execution of the work

Test Panels

bad repointing
Unskilled repointing has negatively impacted the character of this late-19th century building.
Photo: NPS files.

These panels are prepared by the contractor using the same techniques that will be used on the remainder of the project. Several panel locations--preferably not on the front or other highly visible location of the building--may be necessary to include all types of masonry, joint styles, mortar colors, and other problems likely to be encountered on the job.

If cleaning tests, for example, are also to be undertaken, they should be carried out in the same location. Usually a 3 foot by 3 foot area is sufficient for brickwork, while a somewhat larger area may be required for stonework. These panels establish an acceptable standard of work and serve as a benchmark for evaluating and accepting subsequent work on the building.

Joint Preparation
Old mortar should be removed to a minimum depth of 2 to 2-1/2 times the width of the joint to ensure an adequate bond and to prevent mortar "popouts." For most brick joints, this will require removal of the mortar to a depth of approximately to 1 inch; for stone masonry with wide joints, mortar may need to be removed to a depth of several inches. Any loose or disintegrated mortar beyond this minimum depth also should be removed.

Although some damage may be inevitable, careful joint preparation can help limit damage to masonry units. The traditional manner of removing old mortar is through the use of hand chisels and mash hammers. Though labor-intensive, in most instances this method poses the least threat for damage to historic masonry units and produces the best final product.

The most common method of removing mortar, however, is through the use of power saws or grinders. The use of power tools by unskilled masons can be disastrous for historic masonry, particularly soft brick. Using power saws on walls with thin joints, such as most brick walls, almost always will result in damage to the masonry units by breaking the edges and by overcutting on the head, or vertical joints.

However, small pneumatically-powered chisels generally can be used safely and effectively to remove mortar on historic buildings as long as the masons maintain appropriate control over the equipment. Under certain circumstances, thin diamond-bladed grinders may be used to cut out horizontal joints only on hard portland cement mortar common to most early-20th century masonry buildings. Usually, automatic tools most successfully remove old mortar without damaging the masonry units when they are used in combination with hand tools in preparation for repointing.

Where horizontal joints are uniform and fairly wide, it may be possible to use a power masonry saw to assist the removal of mortar, such as by cutting along the middle of the joint; final mortar removal from the sides of the joints still should be done with a hand chisel and hammer. Caulking cutters with diamond blades can sometimes be used successfully to cut out joints without damaging the masonry. Caulking cutters are slow; they do not rotate, but vibrate at very high speeds, thus minimizing the possibility of damage to masonry units.

Although mechanical tools may be safely used in limited circumstances to cut out horizontal joints in preparation for repointing, they should never be used on vertical joints because of the danger of slipping and cutting into the brick above or below the vertical joint. Using power tools to remove mortar without damaging the surrounding masonry units also necessitates highly skilled masons experienced in working on historic masonry buildings. Contractors should demonstrate proficiency with power tools before their use is approved.

Using any of these power tools may also be more acceptable on hard stone, such as quartzite or granite, than on terra cotta with its glass-like glaze, or on soft brick or stone. The test panel should determine the acceptability of power tools. If power tools are to be permitted, the contractor should establish a quality control program to account for worker fatigue and similar variables.

Mortar should be removed cleanly from the masonry units, leaving square corners at the back of the cut. Before filling, the joints should be rinsed with a jet of water to remove all loose particles and dust. At the time of filling, the joints should be damp, but with no standing water present. For masonry walls--limestone, sandstone and common brick--that are extremely absorbent, it is recommended that a continual mist of water be applied for a few hours before repointing begins.

brick farmhouse
Scaffolding was erected so National Park Service crews could work at repointing the gables and chimneys of the 1850 Spangler Farmhouse in Gettysburg Nation Military Park.
Photo: NPS files

Mortar preparation
Mortar components should be measured and mixed carefully to assure the uniformity of visual and physical characteristics.

Dry ingredients are measured by volume and thoroughly mixed before the addition of any water.

Sand must be added in a damp, loose condition to avoid over sanding.

Repointing mortar is typically pre-hydrated by adding water so it will just hold together, thus allowing it to stand for a period of time before the final water is added. Half the water should be added, followed by mixing for approximately 5 minutes. The remaining water should then be added in small portions until a mortar of the desired consistency is reached. The total volume of water necessary may vary from batch to batch, depending on weather conditions.

It is important to keep the water to a minimum for two reasons: first, a drier mortar is cleaner to work with, and it can be compacted tightly into the joints; second, with no excess water to evaporate, the mortar cures without shrinkage cracks. Mortar should be used within approximately 30 minutes of final mixing, and "retempering," or adding more water, should not be permitted.

Using lime putty to make mortar.
Mortar made with lime putty and sand, sometimes referred to as roughage or course stuff, should be measured by volume, and may require slightly different proportions from those used with hydrated lime. No additional water is usually needed to achieve a workable consistency because enough water is already contained in the putty. Sand is proportioned first, followed by the lime putty, then mixed for five minutes or until all the sand is thoroughly coated with the lime putty. But mixing, in the familiar sense of turning over with a hoe, sometimes may not be sufficient if the best possible performance is to be obtained from a lime putty mortar.

Although the old practice of chopping, beating and ramming the mortar has largely been forgotten, recent field work has confirmed that lime putty and sand rammed and beaten with a wooden mallet or ax handle, interspersed by chopping with a hoe, can significantly improve workability and performance. The intensity of this action increases the overall lime/sand contact and removes any surplus water by compacting the other ingredients. It may also be advantageous for larger projects to use a mortar pan mill for mixing. Mortar pan mills which have a long tradition in Europe produce a superior lime putty mortar not attainable with today's modern paddle and drum type mixers.

For larger repointing projects the lime putty and sand can be mixed together ahead of time and stored indefinitely, on or off site, which eliminates the need for piles of sand on the job site. This mixture, which resembles damp brown sugar, must be protected from the air in sealed containers with a wet piece of burlap over the top or sealed in a large plastic bag to prevent evaporation and premature carbonation. The lime putty and sand mixture can be recombined into a workable plastic state months later with no additional water.

If Portland cement is specified in a lime putty and sand mortar--Type O (1:2:9) or Type K (1:3:11)--the Portland cement should first be mixed into a slurry paste before adding it to the lime putty and sand. Not only will this ensure that the Portland cement is evenly distributed throughout the mixture, but if dry Portland cement is added to wet ingredients it tends to "ball up," jeopardizing dispersion. (Usually water must be added to the lime putty and sand anyway once the Portland cement is introduced.) Any color pigments should be added at this stage and mixed for a full five minutes. The mortar should be used within 30 minutes to 1 hours and it should not be re-tempered. Once Portland cement has been added the mortar can no longer be stored.

Filling the joint

trowelWhere existing mortar has been removed to a depth of greater than 1 inch, these deeper areas should be filled first, compacting the new mortar in several layers. The back of the entire joint should be filled successively by applying approximately 1/4 inch of mortar, packing it well into the back corners. This application may extend along the wall for several feet. As soon as the mortar has reached thumb-print hardness, another 1/4 inch layer of mortar--approximately the same thickness--may be applied. Several layers will be needed to fill the joint flush with the outer surface of the masonry. It is important to allow each layer time to harden before the next layer is applied; most of the mortar shrinkage occurs during the hardening process and layering thus minimizes overall shrinkage.

When the final layer of mortar is thumb-print hard, the joint should be tooled to match the historic joint. Proper timing of the tooling is important for uniform color and appearance. If tooled when too soft, the color will be lighter than expected, and hairline cracks may occur; if tooled when too hard, there may be dark streaks called "tool burning," and good closure of the mortar against the masonry units will not be achieved.

If the old bricks or stones have worn, rounded edges, it is best to recess the final mortar slightly from the face of the masonry. This treatment will help avoid a joint which is visually wider than the actual joint; it also will avoid creation of a large, thin featheredge which is easily damaged, thus admitting water. After tooling, excess mortar can be removed from the edge of the joint by brushing with a natural bristle or nylon brush. Metal bristle brushes should never be used on historic masonry.

Curing conditions
The preliminary hardening of high-lime content mortars--those mortars that contain more lime by volume than Portland cement, i.e., Type O (1:2:9), Type K (1:3:11), and straight lime/sand, Type "L" (0:1:3)--takes place fairly rapidly as water in the mix is lost to the porous surface of the masonry and through evaporation. A high lime mortar (especially Type "L") left to dry out too rapidly can result in chalking, poor adhesion, and poor durability. Periodic wetting of the repointed area after the mortar joints are thumb-print hard and have been finish tooled may significantly accelerate the carbonation process. When feasible, misting using a hand sprayer with a fine nozzle can be simple to do for a day or two after repointing. Local conditions will dictate the frequency of wetting, but initially it may be as often as every hour and gradually reduced to every three or four hours. Walls should be covered with burlap for the first three days after repointing. (Plastic may be used, but it should be tented out and not placed directly against the wall.) This helps keep the walls damp and protects them from direct sunlight. Once carbonation of the lime has begun, it will continue for many years and the lime will gain strength as it reverts back to calcium carbonate within the wall.

This 18th century pediment and surrounding wall exhibit distinctively different mortar joints.
Photo: NPS files.

Aging the mortar
Even with the best efforts at matching the existing mortar color, texture, and materials, there will usually be a visible difference between the old and new work, partly because the new mortar has been matched to the unweathered portions of the historic mortar.

Another reason for a slight mismatch may be that the sand is more exposed in old mortar due to the slight erosion of the lime or cement. Although spot repointing is generally preferable and some color difference should be acceptable, if the difference between old and new mortar is too extreme, it may be advisable in some instances to repoint an entire area of a wall, or an entire feature such as a bay, to minimize the difference between the old and the new mortar.

If the mortars have been properly matched, usually the best way to deal with surface color differences is to let the mortars age naturally. Other treatments to overcome these differences, including cleaning the non-repointed areas or staining the new mortar, should be carefully tested prior to implementation.

Staining the new mortar to achieve a better color match is generally not recommended, but it may be appropriate in some instances. Although staining may provide an initial match, the old and new mortars may weather at different rates, leading to visual differences after a few seasons. In addition, the mixtures used to stain the mortar may be harmful to the masonry; for example, they may introduce salts into the masonry which can lead to efflorescence.

Cleaning the repointed masonry
(Also see Preservation Brief # 1)

If repointing work is carefully executed, there will be little need for cleaning other than to remove the small amount of mortar from the edge of the joint following tooling. This can be done with a stiff natural bristle or nylon brush after the mortar has dried, but before it is initially set (1-2 hours). Mortar that has hardened can usually be removed with a wooden paddle or, if necessary, a chisel.

Further cleaning is best accomplished with plain water and natural bristle or nylon brushes. If chemicals must be used, they should be selected with extreme caution. Improper cleaning can lead to deterioration of the masonry units, deterioration of the mortar, mortar smear, and efflorescence. New mortar joints are especially susceptible to damage because they do not become fully cured for several months. Chemical cleaners, particularly acids, should never be used on dry masonry. The masonry should always be completely soaked once with water before chemicals are applied. After cleaning, the walls should be flushed again with plain water to remove all traces of the chemicals.

Several precautions should be taken if a freshly repointed masonry wall is to be cleaned. First, the mortar should be fully hardened before cleaning. Thirty days is usually sufficient, depending on weather and exposure; as mentioned previously, the mortar will continue to cure even after it has hardened. Test panels should be prepared to evaluate the effects of different cleaning methods. Generally, on newly repointed masonry walls, only very low pressure (100 psi) water washing supplemented by stiff natural bristle or nylon brushes should be used, except on glazed or polished surfaces, where only soft cloths should be used.

New construction "bloom" or efflorescence occasionally appears within the first few months of repointing and usually disappears through the normal process of weathering. If the efflorescence is not removed by natural processes, the safest way to remove it is by dry brushing with stiff natural or nylon bristle brushes followed by wet brushing. Hydrochloric (muriatic) acid, is generally ineffective, and it should not be used to remove efflorescence. It may liberate additional salts, which, in turn, can lead to more efflorescence.

Surface Grouting is sometimes suggested as an alternative to repointing brick buildings, in particular. This process involves the application of a thin coat of cement-based grout to the mortar joints and the mortar/brick interface. To be effective, the grout must extend slightly onto the face of the masonry units, thus widening the joint visually. The change in the joint appearance can alter the historic character of the structure to an unacceptable degree. In addition, although masking of the bricks is intended to keep the grout off the remainder of the face of the bricks, some level of residue, called "veiling," will inevitably remain. Surface grouting cannot substitute for the more extensive work of repointing, and it is not a recommended treatment for historic masonry.

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Visually examining the mortar and the masonry units

A simple in situ comparison will help determine the hardness and condition of the mortar and the masonry units. Begin by scraping the mortar with a screwdriver, and gradually tapping harder with a cold chisel and mason's hammer. Masonry units can be tested in the same way beginning, even more gently, by scraping with a fingernail. This relative analysis which is derived from the 10-point hardness scale used to describe minerals, provides a good starting point for selection of an appropriate mortar. (It is described more fully in "The Russack System for Brick & Mortar Description" referenced in Selected Reading at the end of this Brief.)

Mortar samples should be chosen carefully, and picked from a variety of locations on the building to find un-weathered mortar, if possible. Portions of the building may have been repointed in the past while other areas may be subject to conditions causing unusual deterioration. There may be several colors of mortar dating from different construction periods or sand used from different sources during the initial construction. Any of these situations can give false readings to the visual or physical characteristics required for the new mortar. Variations should be noted which may require developing more than one mix.

1) Remove with a chisel and hammer three or four un-weathered samples of the mortar to be matched from several locations on the building. (Set the largest sample aside--this will be used later for comparison with the repointing mortar). Removing a full representation of samples will allow selection of a "mean" or average mortar sample.

2) Mash the remaining samples with a wooden mallet, or hammer if necessary, until they are separated into their constituent parts. There should be a good handful of the material.

3) Examine the powdered portion--the lime and/or cement matrix of the mortar. Most particularly, note the color. There is a tendency to think of historic mortars as having white binders, but grey Portland cement was available by the last quarter of the 19th century, and traditional limes were also sometimes grey. Thus, in some instances, the natural color of the historic binder may be grey, rather than white. The mortar may also have been tinted to create a colored mortar, and this color should be identified at this point.

4) Carefully blow away the powdery material (the lime and/or cement matrix which bound the mortar together).

5) With a low power (10 power) magnifying glass, examine the remaining sand and other materials such as lumps of lime or shell.

6) Note and record the wide range of color as well as the varying sizes of the individual grains of sand, impurities, or other materials.

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.

Matching color and texture of the repointing mortar
New mortar should match the unweathered interior portions of the historic mortar. The simplest way to check the match is to make a small sample of the proposed mix and allow it to cure at a temperature of approximately 70 degrees F for about a week, or it can be baked in an oven to speed up the curing; this sample is then broken open and the surface is compared with the surface of the largest "saved" sample of historic mortar.

If a proper color match cannot be achieved through the use of natural sand or colored aggregates like crushed marble or brick dust, it may be necessary to use a modern mortar pigment.

During the early stages of the project, it should be determined how closely the new mortar should match the historic mortar. Will "quite close" be sufficient, or is "exactly" expected? The specifications should state this clearly so that the contractor has a reasonable idea how much time and expense will be required to develop an acceptable match.

The same judgment will be necessary in matching replacement terra cotta, stone or brick. If there is a known source for replacements, this should be included in the specifications. If a source cannot be determined prior to the bidding process, the specifications should include an estimated price for the replacement materials with the final price based on the actual cost to the contractor.

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For the owner/administrator. The owner or administrator of a historic building should remember that repointing is likely to be a lengthy and expensive process. First, there must be adequate time for evaluation of the building and investigation into the cause of problems. Then, there will be time needed for preparation of the contract documents. The work itself is precise, time-consuming and noisy, and scaffolding may cover the face of the building for some time. Therefore, the owner must carefully plan the work to avoid problems. Schedules for both repointing and other activities will thus require careful coordination to avoid unanticipated conflicts. The owner must avoid the tendency to rush the work or cut corners if the historic building is to retain its visual integrity and the job is to be durable.

For the architect/consultant. Because the primary role of the consultant is to ensure the life of the building, a knowledge of historic construction techniques and the special problems found in older buildings is essential. The consultant must assist the owner in planning for logistical problems relating to research and construction. It is the consultant's responsibility to determine the cause of the mortar deterioration and ensure that it is corrected before the masonry is repointed. The consultant must also be prepared to spend more time in project inspections than is customary in modern construction.

For the masons. Successful repointing depends on the masons themselves. Experienced masons understand the special requirements for work on historic buildings and the added time and expense they require. The entire masonry crew must be willing and able to perform the work in conformance with the specifications, even when the specifications may not be in conformance with standard practice. At the same time, the masons should not hesitate to question the specifications if it appears that the work specified would damage the building.

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A good repointing job is meant to last, at least 30 years, and preferably 50- 100 years. Shortcuts and poor craftsmanship result not only in diminishing the historic character of a building, but also in a job that looks bad, and will require future repointing sooner than if the work had been done correctly. The mortar joint in a historic masonry building has often been called a wall's "first line of defense."

Good repointing practices guarantee the long life of the mortar joint, the wall, and the historic structure. Although careful maintenance will help preserve the freshly repointed mortar joints, it is important to remember that mortar joints are intended to be sacrificial and will probably require repointing some time in the future. Nevertheless, if the historic mortar joints proved durable for many years, then careful repointing should have an equally long life, ultimately contributing to the preservation of the entire building.

Taking it further

Selected reading

Ashurst, John & Nicola. Practical Building Conservation. Vol. 3: Mortars, Plasters and Renders. New York: Halsted Press, a Division of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1988.

Cliver, E. Blaine. "Tests for the Analysis of Mortar Samples." Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology. Vol. 6, No. 1 (1974), pp. 68-73.

Coney, William B., AIA. Masonry Repointing of Twentieth-Century Buildings. Illinois Preservation Series. Number 10. Springfield, IL: Division of Preservation Services, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 1989.

Davidson, J.I. "Masonry Mortar." Canadian Building Digest. CBD 163. Ottawa, ONT: Division of Building Research, National Research Council of Canada, 1974.

Ferro, Maximillian L., AIA, RIBA. "The Russack System for Brick and Mortar Description: A Field Method for Assessing Masonry Hardness." Technology and Conservation. Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer 1980), pp. 32-35.

Hooker, Kenneth A. "Field Notes on Repointing." Aberdeen's Magazine of Masonry Construction. Vol. 4, No. 8 (August 1991), pp. 326-328.

Jedrzejewska, H. "Old Mortars in Poland: A New Method of Investigation." Studies in Conservation. Vol. 5, No. 4 (1960), pp. 132-138.

"Lime's Role in Mortar." Aberdeen's Magazine of Masonry Construction. Vol. 9, No. 8 (August 1996), pp. 364-368.

Phillips, Morgan W. "Brief Notes on the Subjects of Analyzing Paints and Mortars and the Recording of Moulding Profiles: The Trouble with Paint and Mortar Analysis." Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology. Vol. 10, No. 2 (1978), pp. 77-89.

Preparation and Use of Lime Mortars: An Introduction to the Principles of Using Lime Mortars. Scottish Lime Centre for Historic Scotland. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland, 1995.

Schierhorn, Carolyn. "Ensuring Mortar Color Consistency." Aberdeen's Magazine of Masonry Construction. Vol. 9, No. 1 (January 1996), pp. 33-35.

"Should Air-Entrained Mortars Be Used?" Aberdeen's Magazine of Masonry Construction. Vol. 7, No. 9 (September 1994), pp. 419-422.

Sickels-Taves, Lauren B. "Creep, Shrinkage, and Mortars in Historic Preservation." Journal of Testing and Evaluation, JTEVA. Vol. 23, No. 6 ( November 1995), pp. 447-452.

Speweik, John P. The History of Masonry Mortar in America, 1720-1995. Arlington, VA: National Lime Association, 1995.

Speweik, John P. "Repointing Right: Why Using Modern Mortar Can Damage a Historic House." Old-House Journal. Vol. XXV, No. 4 (July-August 1997), pp. 46-51.

Technical Notes on Brick Construction. Brick Institute of America, Reston, VA.

"Moisture Resistance of Brick Masonry: Maintenance." 7F. February 1986.

"Mortars for Brick Masonry." 8 Revised II. November 1989.

"Standard Specification for Portland Cement-Lime Mortar for Brick Masonry." 8A Revised. September 1988.

"Mortar for Brick Masonry-Selection and Controls." 8B Reissued. September 1988. (July/August 1976).

"Guide Specifications for Brick Masonry, Part V Mortar and Grout." 11E Revised. September 1991.

"Bonds and Patterns in Brickwork." 30 Reissued. September 1988.

Useful Addresses

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

National Lime Association
200 N. Glebe Road, Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203

Portland Cement Association
5420 Old Orchard Road
Skokie, IL 60077


Robert C. Mack, FAIA, is a principal in the firm of MacDonald & Mack, Architects, Ltd., an architectural firm that specializes in historic buildings in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John P. Speweik, CSI, Toledo, Ohio, is a 5th-generation stonemason, and principal in U.S. Heritage Group, Inc., Chicago, Illinois, which does custom historic mortar matching. Anne Grimmer, Senior Architectural Historian, Heritage Preservation Services Program, National Park Service, was responsible for developing and coordinating the revision of this Preservation Brief, incorporating professional comments, and the technical editing.

The authors and the editor wish to thank the following for the professional and technical review they provided: Mark Macpherson and Ron Peterson, Masonry Restoration Contractors, Macpherson-Towne Company, Minneapolis, MN; Lorraine Schnabel, Architectural Conservator, John Milner Associates, Inc., Philadelphia, PA; Lauren B. Sickels-Taves, Ph.D., Architectural Conservator, Biohistory International, Huntington Woods, MI; and the following National Park Service professional staff, including: E. Blaine Cliver, Chief, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record; Douglas C. Hicks, Deputy Superintendent, Historic Preservation Training Center, Frederick, MD; Chris McGuigan, Supervisory Exhibits Specialist, Historic Preservation Training Center, Frederick, MD; Charles E. Fisher, Sharon C. Park, FAIA, John Sandor, Technical Preservation Services Branch, Heritage Preservation Services, and Kay D. Weeks, Heritage Preservation Services.

The original version of this brief, Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic Brick Buildings, was written by Robert C. Mack in 1976, and was revised and updated in 1980 by Robert C. Mack, de Teel Patterson Tiller, and James S. Askins.

This publication has been prepared pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to develop and make available information concerning historic properties. Technical Preservation Services (TPS), Heritage Preservation Services Division, National Park Service prepares standards, guidelines, and other educational materials on responsible historic preservation treatments for a broad public.

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