Summary: Learn how to point brick and blockwork joints, shape the mortar joint, create a flush joint, create a rubbed (concave) joint, create a V-joint, create a raked joint and create a weatherstruck joint.
Pointing the joints of a brick or blockwork enhances the appearance of the wall and makes the joint watertight. This can only be done when the mortar between the joints is of the correct consistency, i.e. as it is just beginning to dry and when it is not wet and sticky or too dry.
Consistency of the mortar
If the mortar is too wet it can be dragged from the joint as you are pointing it. If the mortar has been left too long and is too hard and dry, pointing will be difficult or impossible.
- To check whether the mortar is of the correct consistency, press your finger into the joint and see if it holds the impression without sticking to your finger. If this is the case then the mortar is the right consistency for pointing.
- It is important to start pointing at exactly the correct moment because if left too long, you may not reach other parts of the wall before it has dried.
- If you are building a large wall, it’s best to point the wall in stages, to avoid taking on more than is reasonably manageable.
- The joints should match any existing brickwork or if necessary you may need to adapt the pointing so it best copes with the weather conditions of the area.
Shaping the mortar joint
There are several styles of pointing which use different methods and tools to create different effects.
By scraping the edge of a pointing trowel over the joints the mortar becomes flush with the brickwork. Finish by stippling the mortar with a stiff-bristled brush, which exposes the texture of the sand.
Rubbed (concave) joint
- To produce a rubbed joint, you will require a jointing tool with a rounded blade to create the concave profile. Alternatively you may be able to improvise with a bent piece of 15mm copper pipe or a small length of garden hose.
- Firstly scrape the joint flush with the edge of a pointing trowel. Then attending to the vertical joints first, drag the tool along the joints to produce the concave joint. After you have finished all the vertical joints carry out the same procedure on the horizontal joints.
- This type of joint is perfect for walls built with old, second-hand bricks that are not of a high enough quality for a crisp joint.
The V-joint provides far better surface run-off as well as a smart finish. As its name suggests the finished joint resembles a V-shape and is created in a similar way to the rubbed joint using a specific jointing tool designed to produce this effect.
Firstly rake out the joints to about 6mm (1/4in) deep using a piece of wood or metal. Then compress them with a rounded dowel rod or something similar. It must be noted that raked joints are not suitable in exposed locations, as they do not shed water.
These angled joints are ideal for walls exposed to harsh weather conditions.
- Start working on the vertical joints. Using a small pointing trowel angle the mortar from the edge of the brick into the joint creating a small slope. The slopes will need to be angled to the left or right but consistency is important.
- Repeat on the horizontal joints, shaping the mortar so the slope angles into the brickwork. Allow an overspill of mortar at the base of the joints.
- Finish the joints by trimming off the excess mortar from the bottom edge of the joints using a tool called a Frenchman. A Frenchman is like a knife with its tip bent at 90 degrees. You can bend a piece of metal to create an improvised tool that will perform the same job.
- Use a piece of batten as a straight edge, but nail two pieces of wood of equal depth to each end of the batten to keep the straight edge away from the wall.
- With the straight edge in line with the horizontal joints use your Frenchman or improvised tool to neatly remove the overspill of mortar.
Brushing the brickwork
- When the joints have dried, clean the wall face with a medium-soft banister brush.
- Make sure you brush carefully across the joints to avoid disturbing any pointing that may not have completely dried.
- Pointing trowel
- Stiff-bristled brush
- Jointing tool
- Medium-soft banister brush
- Mortar – masonry cement and building sand
- Building a metal framed stud wall
- Building a stud partition wall
- Creating an arch
- Closing a fireplace
- Fitting a door frame
- Fitting a door stop