Sunday, December 18, 2011


How times have changed. When this house was built about 100 years ago, a way of showing how monied and high class you were was to use brick in the construction. Nowadays granite and other natural stone is the big deal. So when I look at the foundation of the house and see large, local granite blocks right up to grade, then courses of bricks from grade up to the sill plate, I just shake my head and wonder.

One result of this is that the bricks of the foundation are exposed to the elements, and over time the mortar wears out and needs repair. When we were looking to buy this house, the home inspector noted this and mentioned that the bricks would need "repointing"pretty soon. Two years later and I've finally gotten around to it.

Repointing involves grinding or chiseling out the old mortar to get down to intact mortar, then scraping in new mortar. It's something that theoretically a DIYer can do, but I'd been meaning to have a professional take care of. The cost probably wouldn't be that much more, and certainly the frustration factor is a lot lower. A carpenter we've used for things in the past mentioned a mason he's worked with in times past, and being a slow time of year for masonry, he was able to come out and do it that same day. I was impressed that he was able to do anything at this time of year; I would have thought it was too cold for mortar to set up properly. But apparently, as long as it is not completely freezing, the mortar can be mixed in such a way that it works just fine. Being on the foundation, instead of a standalone structure out in the open, ensures that it'll stay reasonably warm, too.

So, apparently, this is what repointing looks like. From strolling around, it looks like about 2/3 of the mortar on each of the three exposed walls was touched up (the fourth wall is covered with the porch). Tick off another home maintenance item. This ought to take care of things for the next few decades.

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