Posted on: 18 July 2016Share
Owning a historical home comes with significant responsibilities. You want to keep it in excellent condition while preserving its "period" look. Recognizing and correcting deterioration of the exterior, particularly if it's made of brick, is essential. If you want to be a steward of your historical home, you need to inspect it for damage and arrange for repairs.
When a home has older brick, you will need to have it tuck-pointed at times over the years. The mortar that holds the brick together is durable but will eventually loosen and even crumble, weakening the structure and potentially causing falling brick and extensive damage. You can check the mortar for yourself by taking a key and scratching between the bricks. If your key rakes up mortar, you need to consider having your home tuck-pointed. When your mortar is in good shape, the key won't leave even a slight mark. Once your mortar becomes loose, you really can't afford to ignore it. You should seek a professional inspection by someone who specializes in historical restoration.
If you hire someone who does not have the proper knowledge of older brick, having your home tuck-pointed could actually lead to your home's exterior rapidly deteriorating. Modern mortar is meant to be used with today's "hard fired" bricks. The bricks on historical homes are softer and were fired at lower temperatures. They were hand packed and need softer mortars. Since hard mortars can harm these original bricks, experts recommend using lime mortars on historical homes.
Unfortunately, having your home tuck-pointed is expensive because the process is labor-intensive. Workers have to scrape out the old mortar and apply the new. You can expect to pay approximately $6 per square foot for a one story home, but anything above ten feet will cost you more, perhaps as much as $10 per square foot. Obviously, this adds up, especially if you own a stately and sprawling home. However, the cost for not taking care of crumbling mortar will be much more because the integrity of the entire structure will be at risk.
To keep your historic home in excellent condition, inspect it regularly and test the mortar. If you suspect that you have a problem, have a contractor who specializes in historical masonry preservation give you an estimate on repairs. Although the cost is significant, the preservation of your home demands that you keep the brick in sound condition.