Repointing and Retucking

Repointing, retucking, otherwise known as…its gonna cost you.

masonry is expensive. replacing historic mortar is even more expensive.the quick and dirty on historic mortar vs regular cement as I understand it: old bricks and mortar were manufactured differently than today. Old brick and mortar – breathe, expand and contract with the weather. New brick and mortar – don’t breathe, and don’t expand or contract. problems occur when old mixes with new.

Here are more thorough primers on why historic mortar matters, and DC guidelines telling you best to use it.

And here’s what our walls look like:

Now for the estimates. The original general contractor never followed through. Sergey called several times, at first he noted that he did not get sample with correct mortar composition back yet, then his truck got stolen (with our phone number inside), then nothing. so we gave up on him.

and called three more re-pointing professionals.

Renaissance was very prompt. (So prompt, that we received a calendar from them in the mail, the day after I made an appointment). They don’t do spot treatments, so it was whole wall/whole house or nothing. Their person looked at our other back walls and said that we were at a 7 out of 10 on all but the side wall with water damage. and obviously we are at a 10 out of 10 for the damaged side wall. renaissance uses Virginia Lime Works mortar (as in $40 per bag, as opposed to HD $6 bags). and they have crews of people who come out and would finish our back of the house in 3 days. Their estimate was very pretty and detailed and pretty much promised to love our bricks and mortar like they love their kids (j/k) cost: $4,400 for one wall.

T R Sellheim Construction. also prompt. the owner was the guy who did the estimate. and boy did I learn something new. I should have known. um, the measuring tape is your first order of business when dealing with a house problem. water damage starts at about 27 feet from the back exterior wall. our neighbor’s house and our house share a wall, which starts at 16 feet deep. so whatever it is, its not coming from outside wall. which, btw, still needs re-pointing. cost: $4,100 for one wall.

Edgar’s Masonry. showed up on time. (we are batting 100%!) Edgar is the owner who looked at our walls. Since its clear the water isn’t seeping in from mortar, he spent more time trying to figure out what’s up with the moisture than on our re-pointing needs. Edgar even went up on our roof and noticed small cracks and improper closures that we need to seal. cost: $6,000 for one wall

ok, on to calling roofers.

side note: something i learned from PoP? you can actually re-point the back of the house yourself, its easy but a very cumbersome and time consuming project. but Fragers sells the right kind of mortar for the job. I know what we will be doing this summer!

Update – to see how to mix proper mortar go here. (Thanks BMeyer1!)