5 tips for repairing brick veneer

July 28, 2015

Brick veneer houses are strong, but can still require occasional repairs. Luckily, you can make a lot of those repairs yourself by following these handy instructions. 

5 tips for repairing brick veneer

1. "Aging" new joints

  • To "age" new joints so they match old ones in colour, pat the mortar while it's still a little damp with a wet tea bag. It's easier than adding commercial colourant to the mortar mix.

2. Replacing a broken brick

  • This is not as hard as you think it might be! Wearing safety goggles, chisel out the old mortar from around the brick with a hammer and a cold chisel, being careful not to chip the surrounding bricks. Then use the chisel to break apart and remove the damaged brick a piece at a time.
  • Clean and dampen the opening and the new brick, then spread mortar along the bottom of the cavity and along the top and sides of the new brick.
  • Support the brick on a trowel or a wood scrap and slide it into place.
  • Add more mortar as needed to fill the joints, then shape them to match the other joints.

3. Hiding a mismatched replacement brick

  • If you replace a brick in a wall and the replacement doesn't match the surrounding bricks, try staining it the same colour as the existing ones.

4. Repoint crumbly brick joints

  • If the mortar in the joints between bricks is cracking and crumbling, you need to repoint it — that is, replace old loose mortar with fresh mortar. Whether you do it yourself or hire a handyman or mason, repointing is simple.
  • Use a cold chisel to chip away loose mortar, until you reach solid mortar. Wear safety goggles. Brush out any debris, and rinse the surface with a garden hose.
  • Put some mortar on the back of a trowel or a board, and push it into the openings with a tuck pointer tool. Or just roll the mortar into a "sausage" and press it in. Let it dry until you can press it gently with your thumb and leave a print.
  • Smooth and shape the joint to match the surrounding ones; use a brick jointer tool or improvise using an ice-cream stick, piece of metal tube or old spoon. After the mortar has set, brush away any excess.

Matching new mortar joints to old

  • To shape a new mortar joint to match the old ones, you don't need a mason's jointer tool. To form the common concave shape, smooth the joint with an ice-cream stick, a piece of metal tube or an old spoon. For other shapes, carve a scrap of wood to the shape.
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