Brick wall frost damage © Daniel Friedman at Brick Wall Damage Repair
Repair Approaches for Bulged, Cracked, Loose, Spalled Brick Walls

  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the difference between a brick veneer wall & a structural brick wall & the significance of this difference when understanding cracks in brick buildings

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Brick wall repair:

Brick wall repair methods for structural brick walls & brick veneer walls vary depending on the type of damage that is being addressed. Reinforcement or even reconstruction are required in cases of severe structural damage or unsafe buildings while other types of brick wall repair such as re-pointing or crack repair or lintel repair are often possible in-situ.

This article series explains types of damage to structural brick walls. We explain how to recognize, diagnose, & evaluate movement and cracks in brick walls and how to recognize brick wall bowing or bulging and cracking failures. The article series includes identification of types of foundation cracks, crack patterns, differences in the meaning of cracks in brick structural walls or brick veneer walls and discusses cracks or movement as evidence of building movement.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Methods of Repair of Brick Walls on Buildings

Steel tie back connetor in brick structural wall, Hudson New York © Daniel Friedman at InspectApedia.comArticle Contents

In our photo of an antique building in Hudson, NY (at left) those three "stars" shown above the three windows of the second floor are probably functioning as giant "washers" securing a front-to-back anchor that secures the front wall of this structure against bulging or movement, possibly also securing the floor structure inside as you can see in the sketch at left.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Note: Types of brick wall damage, notes on distinguishing between brick structural & veneer walls, & brick wall damage assessment: bulges, bowing, cracking, construction methods, support, spalling, effloresence, etc. are addressed beginning

Repairs / Reinforcement of Structural Brick Walls: Connectors, Special Fasteners

The drawing at below left, from Carson Dunlop Associates, shows how a structural brick wall may be reinforced laterally using a steel tie rod.

Steel tie rod reinforcement for structural brick wall (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

For repair of deteriorated brick wall mortar joints

For detection & evaluation of thermal cracking or expansion cracks in brick walls of any type
see BRICK WALL THERMAL EXPANSION CRACKS which includes brick veneers and types of veneer damage.

Re-Pointing or Tuckpointing Brick Walls

Brick wall tuck pointing bad job © Daniel Friedman at

Brick walls that have lost mortar from the joints between bricks or brick courses may be repaired by re-pointing or "tuck pointing", a procedure that cleans and then replaces mortar that has been lost from joints.

Our photo of a tuck-pointed structural brick wall (left) shows by the colored mortar that the mason attempted to match the color of older mortar in the wall.

The repairs done at below right look good. But a different tuck pointing repair job (in the upper left portion of the photo where we are pointing to a damaged brick) has not fared as well, possibly due to a poor mortar choice and frost damage.

Definition of Tuck Pointing:

Tuck pointing is the filling in with fresh mortar of cut-out or defective mortar joints; in masonry this refers to the filling of joints in old (or damaged) masonry with fresh mortar. - Masonry Design Manual.

Tuck pointing, which may be performed on both structural and veneer brick walls (as well as on other types of masonry) is performed for several reasons

Water damaged brick foundation © Daniel Friedman at

Tips for Pointing, Tuck Pointing, or Re-Pointing Brick or other Masonry Walls

Bad brick repair © D Friedman at At left we show a bad brick wall repair, tuckpointed using a too-hard mortar mix for a loose brick mortar joint repair that also is not matched in the slightest to the original wall's mortar joint color, texture, nor tooling. This expedient repair invites further frost damage to the wall as well as to the brick surface.

More photos of this wall are

This wall was ultimately re-built over a substantial area damaged by water and frost.

So what is "tuckpointing"?

Working with a long narrow trowel whose width and shape are chosen to match the existing mortar joints, the mason first cleans the existing mortar joints of loose mortar and debris, then pushes fresh mortar into the open joints. The mortar joint in the tuck pointed wall should tooled to match the existing mortar joints, and any mortar that has spilled onto the brick faces themselves should be cleaned before the new joints have fully hardened.

When I [DF] have done tuckpointing or re-pointing of brick walls I prepared (thanks to advice from Eddie Kondysar, a real mason) mortar of the proper color, texture, and hardness to closely-match the original building mortar. After cleaning the very soft mortar from the bad brick joints I held my mud hawk against the wall surface at the bottom of the mortar joint and used the pointing trowel to push mortar into the joint, getting as little mortar as possible on the face of the bricks.

When the joint was filled to a proper depth I tooled the joint (flat, concave, angled in at the top of the joint, or special tooled or lined) using a trowel that matched the profile of the original brickwork.

When the mortar was set if there was a mess of mortar on the brick faces I used a bit of muriatic acid to clean the brick to leave a beautiful job.

Watch out: working with muriatic acid is dangerous and can burn you or put out your eyes. Use appropriate protective gear.

The most common errors we see in brick wall tuckpointing include

Brick wall tuck pointing bad job © Daniel Friedman at

Methods of Repair of Brick Veneer Walls on Buildings

Repair of Brick Veneer Walls

The brick veneer wall shown in our photos (below) was rebuilt after a partial collapse. You can see some of the original veneer bricks on the ground.

Rebuilt brick veneer wall © Daniel Friedman at Rebuilt brick veneer wall © Daniel Friedman at


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