Store Hours: Monday-Friday 7am-4:30pm Saturday 7am-2pm

Masonry Repairs & Restoration

Masonry Repairs & Restoration

Use the right mix: Patching, resurfacing, and replacing masonry are different tasks which require the right mix. Mortar (cement, lime, and sand) and Concrete (cement, sand, and stone) are the basic mixes for building, not repair and restoration. There are specialized mixes for:

  • Resurfacing rough, damaged concrete
  • Leveling between two uneven concrete surfaces, from a feather edge to and inch or two
  • Leveling an uneven concrete floor before covering with wood, carpet, etc.
  • Repointing – repairing the joints – in brick
  • Waterproofing and damp-proofing
  • Fireplaces

Cracks come back. If you want to repair cracks in masonry and concrete, remember that, if you don’t fix the condition that caused the cracks, they will show through or break your repair. Movement, from settling or expansion caused by temperature changes, is often the culprit you can’t stop without demolition and rebuilding. In those cases, consider flexible caulk and/or special coatings.

Old bricks need love too. Modern mortars are too hard for repointing bricks in 19th century structures, and can actually aggravate the damage. Ask about Lime mortar, and proper techniques.

Making masonry match: There are literally thousands of styles of “red brick”, and just as many colors of Thin Veneer stone. Changes in raw materials and processes used in manufacturing, as well as the effects of weathering, can make even a brick or stone veneer by the same name from the same manufacturer look different from run to run. Similarly, natural stone varies continually as it is quarried; the look of building stone is also greatly influenced by the hand and eye of the mason. And new mortar, with the color of the cement prominent, is a tricky match with old mortar which has been weathered so that the sand shows through.

If you need help matching, bring samples if you can, and make note of variations in colors in what you are trying to match. Pictures can help, but can play tricks depending on exposure and quality. Taking samples home, even laying up a test panel, is a great idea, and worth the time and money. Most of all, choose carefully and patiently, and don’t rely on someone saying “close enough”.

Keep in mind that matching masonry is no easier that matching paint, and that the only way to be ensure that new work does not stand out is to redo the entire job with new, which may not be practical or within your budget. If a “good” match is not good enough, be prepared to find an alternative – go for contrast, or “set off” the new so that it does not need to match exactly.

Respect the old. When repairing or “updating” existing masonry, take a moment to consider how old it is and how it has held up over the years. Old bricks and building stone (especially local “Jersey Sandstone”) are soft but have survived for hundreds of years, largely due to the “old fashioned” materials and techniques used to install them.

  • Modern mortars are too hard for repointing bricks in 19th century and older structures, and can actually aggravate the damage. Ask about Lime mortar, and proper techniques.
  • A cement coat over an old stone basement wall can look great, but the soft surface of the stone, and/or the moisture that passes through the wall (by design), may weaken the bond and make the new coat fall off. You might need metal lath, alternate techniques or materials, or even more extensive changes to covert an old “cellar” into a more modern basement.
Watch the Ice…Melter! Plain rock salt can ruin concrete and masonry, not because of a chemical reaction, but because it allows re-freezing at too high a temperature. The moisture that soaks in and then turns back to ice is what makes masonry explode! Look for an ice melting mix that works to lower temperature.

Water is getting in… somewhere! Although the right sealer can add to the water resistance of a masonry wall, water infiltration most often occurs through cracks and at the borders: where stucco meets trim, or where a chimney passes through a roof. One frequent culprit in chimneys is the “wash” of mortar on top of the brick or block, surrounding the orange terra-cotta flue. This mortar often cracks from the movement of the warming and cooling of the flue; water gets in, and leaks out wherever it can. If you have a leak, look carefully for the source, and always be suspicious that it is worse than it first appears: search thoroughly for hidden damage!

Damp-proofing a basement starts with proper drainage (check where your downspouts send that water). New construction should include perimeter drains that collect groundwater and get rid of it, and one of many modern water barrier systems that put a membrane between the ground and the basement… much more effective than the usual “tar” foundation coating. Existing basements can be retrofitted with drainage, patched where water flows, and sealed from the inside with cement-based waterproofing that becomes an integral part of the wall.

Old bricks need love too. Modern mortars are too hard for repointing bricks in 19th century structures, and can actually aggravate the damage. Ask about Lime mortar, and proper techniques.
Watch the Ice… melter! Plain rock salt can ruin concrete and masonry, not because of a chemical reaction, but because it allows re-freezing at too high a temperature. The moisture that soaks in and then turns back to ice is what makes masonry explode! Look for an ice melting mix that works to a lower temperature.

G.W. Lippincott's Supply
609-200-5050
Store Hours
Mon-Fri: 7am-4:30pm
Sat: 7am-2pm

sales@lippincottsupply.net