repointing brick steps

The mortar in brick walls can become affected by the action of wind and rain. lt may become loose and crumbling or be worn down below the level of the brickwork. Repointing brick is then called for. Repointing brick consists of applying new mortar on top of the old to bring it to the correct level. It is not a difficult job, and requires only a few specialist tools, but if you are going to tackle any high places, get a good strong ladder or a scaffold tower. You will also need: an old chisel or screwdriver for raking out loose or crumbling material, and perhaps a hammer to help dislodge difficult pieces; a hawk, which you can buy from a builders’ merchant, or make yourself from a small square piece of board and a short length of dowel or broom handle; a small pointing trowel; a straight-edge; an old painting brush; a bucket; and a ‘frenchman’, which you can fashion from an old kitchen knife sharpened to a point and bent at right angles at the end.

brick repointing stepsWork on a small area of the wall at a time: you will probably find a square metre (10 sq. ft) about the right size. Begin by raking out the old mortar to a depth of 13 mm, then brush out any loose material. Use the brush to wet the brickwork thoroughly with water from the bucket, so that it will not draw out the moisture from the new mortar. The mortar should consist of 1 part cement to 4 of sharp sand, and be mixed to a stiff consistency. Place some mortar on the hawk, and smooth it into a pat. Holding the hawk close to the wall, pick up some mortar on the back of the trowel and push the trowel forwards, tilting the front of the hawk upwards at the same time so that the mortar is lifted clear. Point the vertical joints. First, holding the trowel at a slight angle to press the mortar well into the joints. Using the frenchman with the straight edge, chop off the thick surplus at the outside of each joint when a section of verticals is finished.

Next of repointing brick, point the horizontal joints. Use a similar technique to till each one roughly, then draw the trowel across it to form a smooth continuous band of mortar. Cut off the thick surplus at the bottom with the frenchman. The horizontal joints must be formed so that rainwater will not lodge in them; there are several ways to do this.  Cracks are wide, a sand-and-cement mix would be better and more economical. Small packs of ready-mixed mortar to which you merely add water are available for such repairs. If you mix the mortar yourself, use 1 part cement to 3 of sharp sand. Clean out the crack with the point of a trowel or filling knife, and remove loose material. Then push home the filler – in more than one application if the crack is big – and smooth it off flush with the surrounding surface.

plaster wall repair

It is unlikely that you will be able to plaster a wall satisfactorily starting from scratch, but you might well carry out plaster wall repair to a plastered surface. Cracking caused by shrinkage of the plaster as it dries out, or even by settlement of the building, is the most common fault in a plastered wall. Stop up the cracks with decorator’s filler, applied with a filling knife. This, incidentally, is often confused with a scraper, but the two are in fact totally different. The knife has a flexible blade, whereas the scraper is rigid. Begin by running one corner of the knife blade down the length of the crack, to dislodge any loose material, and also to make the crack wedge shaped narrower at the surface of the wall. Brush loose material from the crevice, and saturate it with water using a brush to make sure that the water penetrates right into the crevice. To start a plaster wall repair, now apply the filler.

plaster wall repairMix it in an old cup or saucer and do not make it too runny – it should be a stiff paste. (Always add water to the filler, never the filler to water; use a wet sponge, so you can then control the flow of water easily). Take some filler on to the knife, and spread it across the width of the crack, flexing the blade as you do so, pushing the filler well into the crack. Draw the knife lengthwise along the crack, again flexing the blade, to wipe the filler flush with the surface and smooth it down. Cracks that are deep and wide should be filled in two stages. When the filler is dry, give it a light sanding and the crack should then be undetectable when painted over. Fill small holes similarly. lf you propose to paint the wall a dark colour, you might have difficulty in obliterating the whiteness of the filler, which could persist in showing through even after two or three coats. To prevent this, add a few drops of the paint to the filler to tint it to about the final colour you have chosen for the wall.

Plaster wall repair in older houses, where the plaster is more brittle, and the surface can become crazed with tiny cracks. Filling each crack individually would be impractical. The best course is to decorate the wall with a material that will cover the cracks: a heavy embossed paper, or even a woodchip paper, which you can paint, can be used. If you want a smooth, painted surface, however, line the wall first. The lining paper to apply as a base for paint has a shiny, impervious surface that does not soak up paint. If you try to lining paper intended for wallpapers, the surface will look like blotting paper.

Damp wall | rising damp

damp wall | rising dampDamp wall is one of the worst defects that can affect a house. Even in its milder toms it is unpleasant but a serious outbreak will first destroy the decorations, then in time attack the woodwork, and eventually strike at the fabric of the building; it will make the place dank and unhealthy. There are three types of damp, each with its own causes and cures. Rising damp, as its name suggests, is damp rising up into the structure from the ground. Penetrating damp, caused by rainwater (or occasionally by water from a plumbing mishap), enters through defects in the shell of the building. The third type of damp is condensation, which originates inside the house. It is not always easy to decide which type of damp your Home is suffering from. In extreme cases it wil1take an expert to give a correct diagnosis. However, there are some general pointers. For instance, if the damp occurs low down on the wall near floor level, you can suspect rising damp. In, say, a bathroom that is prone to severe condensation, the paint can be lifted away from the wall by damp near the skirting, which is a symptom of rising damp, but the cause could equally be condensation streaming down to the bottom of the wall. The effects of condensation can also appear misleadingly on many parts of the walls and ceiling, but this type of damp wall is usually easy to recognize. It occurs when most of the windows are closed (which reduces ventilation) and after water vapour has been released into the air by cooking, washing clothes, or bathing.