Will Repointing Stop Damp? – And Can You Do It Yourself?

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Pointing is the finish on external mortar joints, it is essential to your house standing up to the elements. Over time though, it decays. There are a lot of things that damage your pointing, but it has the same outcome. Water can get in and cause damp.

So how do you fix it? Repointing lets you re-apply the finish to keep your walls secure. This article will look at what you need to know about repointing. Including, how it’s done, and the cost. But firstly, you’ve got to figure out, will repointing actually stop your damp?

will repointing stop damp

Repointing will stop damp, but only if it is the source of the problem. Damaged pointing can cause penetrating damp. This is when water penetrates through the joints into your wall. This means repointing is a common way to fix penetrating damp. However, fixing your pointing won’t do much to repair damp from other issues, such as condensation or rising damp.

What is Pointing?

Pointing is the term given to the finish on the mortar joints between your brickwork. It is this finish that makes it weatherproof. It is usually applied during construction but can be put in or re-done after the fact too. As well as the bedding between your bricks, the pointing is your line of defence against the elements.

Pointing is usually made from either lime or a cement mix. Lime was more common up until around the 1920s, when cement became more prominent. The age of your house should help you see which one you have.

The material that is used can vary, but it is always weaker than the brick surrounding it. This means the pointing will get worn down over time and need replacing. It is designed to be this way. The pointing takes the brunt of the decay rather than your brickwork.

Pointing is designed to take any damage to keep your wall strong. So naturally, it will need repairing and repointing over time. If you’re wondering will repointing stop damp, it may be because your pointing has become worn down.

Pointing shouldn’t be a hard sealed barrier. This is because the pointing has to allow moisture to evaporate and leave the building. It has to allow the wall to breathe. This is why repointing will stop damp. Fixing your pointing makes sure that the seal is working as intended. Water will be able to evaporate again, without letting any damp in.

How Does Pointing Become Damaged?

Fixing pointing can stop damp from getting in, but how does it actually become damaged in the first place? Most of the damage is down to the weather and this will deteriorate pointing over time, but there are other factors. Building defects such as poorly maintained gutters and downpipes are other common causes of persistent water on your walls. All these factors can cause water to saturate your walls and pointing.

Frost damage is also a big factor for your pointing. When moisture on your external walls turns to ice, it expands. If this moisture is inside your brickwork the expansion puts a lot of pressure on the wall. This pressure can crack the mortar causing it to break away.

It is important to keep in mind though that pointing isn’t designed to be permanent. It is supposed to bear the brunt of the weather, to keep your wall in good condition. Repointing should last up to 50 years, but it will eventually need replacing.

How to Do Repointing Yourself

Repointing can be a big job if you need to do your whole house. But it can also protect your home from lots of problems caused by penetrating damp. This makes the extra effort well worth the hassle.

Once your house is repointed you will know that the building is protected from the elements for a long time. If you are considering a DIY approach, then it is quite possible to repoint your house yourself. The following video is a good tutorial:

As you can see, the steps for repointing yourself are relatively simple. This is what you need to do:

pointing video breakdown

  • Rake Out the Old Mortar – Take care when doing this around window frames and doors to make sure they’re not damaged. You can also use a soft brush to get any dirt stuck between the bricks out.
  • Prepare Your Mortar Mix – This will depend on what type of mortar your house already has. In most cases, a mixture of building sand and cement should be used. You can also use a premade mortar mix if you want to keep things simple.
  • Dampen the Joints – Spraying some water on the mortar joints will help the new mortar to take.
  • Apply New Mortar – Applying your new mortar can be done with two trowels. Make sure you are pushing the new mortar into contact with the old mortar inside of the joint. This will make a solid and fully weatherproof joint.
  • Shape and Finish – Shaping and finishing the mortar is to make it look clean and tidy once it has dried. As shown in the video, there are a few different methods to finish. This is largely down to which you prefer aesthetically.

The full guide to finishing the mortar is best watched instead of reading, so looking at the second half of the video above is going to be helpful. The method for repointing yourself isn’t too difficult. However, it can be time-consuming, especially if you have a large surface area to repoint. 

Cost of Repointing DIY

If you’re doing things yourself, you have some costs for equipment and materials to keep in mind. This is going to be cheaper than hiring someone to come in and do it for you. However, if you don’t have some common tools like a chisel or specific trowels then costs are increased a bit.

To do the pointing yourself you will only need to spend around £50 for the tools required. Then your cost for premade mortar or sand and cement, will depend on the size of the area being repointed. This is how it all breaks down.

  • Chisel or Joint Raker – A specific joint raker for removing mortar can be picked up for around £10. You can see a very popular one here on Amazon . A bolster chisel can also work if you already have one, but is more time-consuming.
  • Pointing Trowel – You can get a reasonably good quality pointing trowel for under £10, or you could get a full set of trowels for slightly more. You can see good quality set here
  • Mortar Board – You can see a low cost, popular mortar board Here
  • Mortar Mix – Pre-mixed mortar is the most cost-effective and simplest option for most people. A good type like Blue Circle will likely be under £10 for 20KG. A calculator like this is useful for figuring out how much you’ll need since the size of your joints are going to vary.

Possible extra costs

These are the basic costs. But you might need some extras depending on your situation. While most people will mix mortar in something like a wheelbarrow or a bucket, others might prefer to hire a cement mixer.

You also need to look at the cost of scaffolding if you’re repointing on the second floor. Scaffolding typically costs around £15 per meter. You might be able to get a better price here if you shop around.

If you’re repointing an entire house, then these costs are going to add up. You’ll need a lot of mortar mix, a fair amount of scaffolding, and a good amount of free time. At the end of the process though, repointing will stop damp.

So how does it compare to hiring a professional?

Cost of Professional Repointing

Doing it professionally is going to cost quite a bit more. Although it is an easier option, especially if scaffolding is going to be involved.

The average cost of repointing is about £20-30 per square meter. This might seem expensive compared to DIY, but it will save you a large amount of time. Also, if you are not that confident with the DIY approach, you can be confident that a professional will do a good job.

Conclusion – Will repointing stop damp

Pointing is the line of defence between your brickwork and the harsh elements outside. It will degrade over time though and this can lead to damp getting into your house if not repaired.

If you’re wondering will repointing stop damp, then yes, doing it effectively will stop penetrating damp for up to 50 years. It can get a bit pricey to repoint an entire home, even if you’re doing it yourself. However, damage from damp can also be very expensive to fix. This means it could save you much more in the long run.