Over a period of time, your exterior walls will experience natural wear and tear. Harsh weather such as rain, hail, snow and wind can all take their toll on your mortar joints, making your walls look dull and damaged. From time to time, you will need to get your walls updated by repointing them. Repointing can easily be done by any DIY enthusiast who has a little time, skill and patience.
So what exactly is repointing? Put simply, repointing (also known as pointing up or pointing) is the process of renewing mortar joints in walls. Weather and general decay can cause holes to develop in the joints between bricks, through which water can enter. When water enters these holes - or "voids", it can cause a lot of damage via freeze/thaw cycles and also from salt dissolution and deposition. At this point, repointing is required to 'fix' the voids and prevent the water from entering.
Although many people choose to call in an expert for their repointing work, it is a task that you can complete yourself with relative ease. Generally speaking, you won't have to remove any of the 'sound' or undamaged mortar from your walls during the repointing process - but you will need to ensure that the new mortar matches the existing colour and texture of the old mortar.
Care must be taken when removing the damaged mortar from between the joints, as harsh removal techniques can result in damage to the actual brickwork. For this reason, it is recommended that any damaged mortar should be removed by hand and not using large machinery. A small grinder or power circular masonry blade should be sufficient for the task.
When repointing, it is recommended that depths that are greater than 2-1/2" (4 cm) should be filled in at least two separate phases - allowing the mortar to cure for at least 24 hours in-between applications. It is also important to try and get the mortar level as flush as possible to the level of the brickwork. Poor repointing work can result in the mortar joint raising above the face of the bricks, causing the edge to feather and possibly causing damage to the corner of the bricks.
Repointing is a DIY task that can easily be learnt with a little time and patience. It's important not to rush any such task, as you may cause further damage to your walls, but done correctly, it can refresh and update your home's exterior.