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What are the Best Methods for Masonry Repair?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2016
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Masonry work structures are generally durable, easy to maintain and long-lasting. Repair work can be necessary due to the effects of weather ravages, water leakage, ground damp, weak foundations, pollution and general negligence. Rectifying the cause of the damage, along with the damage itself, then becomes essential to prevent further deterioration along the same lines.

The first step in masonry repair is to hire a masonry services company to examine the building and assess the type, cause, and extent of the damage. Based on their evaluation, they can determine the best methods for masonry repair and the overall budget. Repair methods can differ for modern buildings and for those that have historical importance.

Some of the common methods for masonry repair are repointing, tuckpointing, cleaning, replacing or resettling loose stone, brick or blocks, and parging. Repointing and tuckpointing involves restrengthening the old mortar between the masonry units, or removing and replacing it with new mortar. It is safe to remove old mortar to a depth of 3/8 to 1/2 inches (0.95 to 1.27 cm) of the total width of the masonry unit.

The gaps are then cleaned, rinsed and injected with new mortar. After the new mortar dries, it is tooled to match the overall look. Cleaning is undertaken using water, steam, chemical cleaners and stain removers. Harsh chemicals and sandblasting methods are generally avoided for the structural damage they often cause.

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Replacement of home masonry units is necessary if they are broken or have crumbled away, while loose or detached units can be resettled. In both cases, the mason should endeavor to make the masonry repair conform well with the rest of the structure. The parging method involves applying stucco to unfinished masonry wall surfaces that have become exposed after the removal of certain structural sections.

In the masonry restoration of historical buildings, great care is required in the selection of the right materials, tools and skilled workers. It is best to reuse old stone or brick whenever possible, and to ensure that any new mortar corresponds in strength to the original one. The use of chemical cleaners and power tools is generally prohibited, and workers must carry on in the old-fashioned way with water, hammers, chisels and trowels.

With modern buildings, power tools like power chisels and angle grinders with diamond-carbide blades make for a swifter, more efficient work process. These need to be handled with caution, however, to prevent both damage to the masonry units as well as any accidents. Masonry repair workers are advised to don the appropriate protective clothing and safety gear on the job.

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