Tuck-Pointing A Brick Foundation

By Robert Robillard on Home Maintenance

Repairing A Leaking Brick Foundation:

DearConcord Carpenter,

Tuck-Pointing A Brick Foundation

Photo source: missouri.inetgiant.com

What about repairing a leaky brick foundation wall? I live in a 110+ year old farmhouse but I have 2 corners that leak water. I know that I should put some kind of mortar in the places where there are a few holes/gaps but what about the places where do not seem to any gaps.

I am sure I cannot afford to have someone come in a tuck-point the brick, but can I do it? I know, you do not know my ability, I am not a professional but I did build my first house and it is still standing. :) All my friends call me for roofing, new windows, doors, siding, etc.

Any suggestions? Will that waterproofing paint work if the major gaps are refilled?

Thanks,   Mike


Dear Mike,

Over time all concrete and mortar deteriorates.  The best way to solve your issue is three fold:

  1. Install gutter and slope the exterior grade away from your house.
  2. Fill all of the gaps and holes with brick or mortar.  If water pours into these areas consider using hydraulic cement.
  3. Remove and replace all of the cracked or missing mortar. [tuck-pointing]

Sloping the grade from the house:

Try to grade the ground around your house to achieve a slope of inch per foot for at least 6 to 10 feet.  10 feet being the best choice!

Does It Work?

A few years back we recently did this on a CIRCA 1863 brick over field stone foundation.   The floor up 5 feet was stone and the rest was brick.

We removed as much of the old mortar as we could and added now.  Once that was done we parged or plastered over the bricks with mortar.  This and some minor grading corrections and water infiltration stopped completely.

Tuck-pointing is considered a maintenance issue and not a structural repair.

Tuck-pointing your brick foundation:

  1. Using a cold chisel and a 3-5 pound hammer chip away cracked and loose mortar to a depth of approximately half an inch.  A faster way when tuck-pointing a brick foundation is to use a grinder with a diamond blade.  This method is super dusty and can leave your home a mess.
  2. Brush your joints clean.  Use a shop VAC if needed.
  3. Mix your mortar and let sit for five minutes.
  4. Brush the joints with water to prevent the existing mortar from sucking up all the moisture out of the new mortar.
  5. Apply the mortar using a trowel and press the mortar into the joints.
  6. Use a brick jointer tool to smooth out and press the mortar into the brick joint.
  7. Work in 3 x3 areas, in a methodical fashion by filling all of the vertical joints first then the horizontal joints or vice-versa.
  8. Consider parging over the bricks when done to add extra protection.

I’m not a fan of the paint on waterproofing paints.  I feel the best approach is to move the water away and make sure your foundation is intact.

Good luck and report back on your results!

 ~  AConcordCarpenter

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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