Choosing a tuck pointer to fix your masonry needs

John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau. CONTRIBUTED

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John North, Dayton Better Business Bureau. CONTRIBUTED

Do you own a home in which the brick and mortar is crumbling or just needs a facelift? If you’re not a DIYer, you may leave this job to a professional. Hiring a reputable tuck pointer or masonry contractor can be challenging. To ensure your brick gets the care it needs, Better Business Bureau offers tips to find a reliable tuckpointer.

So, what is a tuckpointing? It’s a term used to describe the process of removing deteriorated mortar joints. Tuckpointing is also referred to as pointing (to correct defects or finish off joints in newly laid masonry) and repointing (to place wet mortar into cut or raked joints to repair weathered joints in old masonry).

Before you start calling around, identify what work you want done. Be specific. For example, do you need brick replacement, brick chimney repair, tuckpointing or capping concrete? You want to give the masonry contractor an idea of the size of the job and any special requirements. Call contractors and ask them to describe their business. This will help you in your decision-making process.

Before you choose a tuckpointer, BBB offers some tips:

• Talk to family and friends to get recommendations.

• Get at least three quotes and compare prices.

• Ask for references and call them.

• Consider a company’s reputation and years of service.

• Verify the contractor is licensed, bonded and insured as appropriate.

• Ask if the contractor belongs to any professional organizations. Look for these logos and BBB logo on the company’s Web site and other promotional material.

• Find out what type of mortar mix will be used? This may be especially important if restoration work is involved.

• Inquire about any preparation that is needed. Make sure the cleaner used is appropriate for your masonry. You don’t want anything damaged by water or abrasive blasting.

• Determine if cold or hot weather will affect your masonry project? Tuckpointing is not recommended during winter since the cold weather can damage the mortar.

• Ask how the joints will be prepared for the new mortar?

• Ask about the use of power tools, which can damage masonry. Loose mortar should be raked out by hand and brushed, then watered down. This allows the new mortar to retain moisture as it cures.

• Inquire about the style of tuckpointing used? Concave, flat, European? Ask the tuck pointer to explain the difference.

• Check to see if contractor will clean up after the job?

• Get a written contract detailing the work. Don’t sign anything until all blanks are completed. And, make sure warranties and guarantees are included.

• Never pay in full upfront. A legitimate, trustworthy contractor won’t do business that way.

Remember, when properly done, tuckpointing will provide a strong waterproof mortar joint matching the original appearance of the mortar joints. It will also help extend the life of the building and provide waterproof protection to the building’s interior.

BBB can help you choose a tuck pointer by providing a list of BBB Accredited contractors and Business Profiles on ones you're considering. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.

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