What is Tuckpointing and Repointing?

tuckpointing-and-repointing-tools

Though the terms tuckpointing and repointing are often used interchangeably, they are actually not the same. Each is a method of adding new mortar joints to a brick structure, but tuckpointing and repointing tools are different. Every homeowner with a chimney, wall, or any masonry will at one time need to fix mortar damage. But does their home need tuckpointing or repointing? Let’s find out.

The Basic Difference

Both repointing and tuckpointing involve repairing masonry by diffing out mortar joints and adding in new mortar. However, when a professional repoints masonry, they are removing damaged joints. Tuckpointing, though very similar, doesn’t always involve repairing damaged joints. Instead, it is a type of pointing using two different colors of mortar. This will change the appearance of the mortar joints. They use different tuckpointing and repointing tools to accomplish this. Which does a homeowner need?

Tuckpointing

The process of tuckpointing was invented in English centuries ago. It was meant to create an illusion that the mortar joints were very fine instead of thick. They accomplished this by sandwiching alternate color between the mortar joints, creating the appearance of the expensive rubbed brick building material. Although this is an ancient term, homeowners still will use it when referring to repointing.

Repointing

Filling in or repairing damaged or cracked joints are the technical definition of repointing. This prevents irreparable damage from leaks, cracks, and water. The structural integrity of a chimney or wall is maintained when the exposure is minimized through the repair. Avoid the eventual destruction of valuable masonry with repointing.

How Often Does Mortar Break Down?

Does a homeowner need to repoint masonry of their home on a regular basis? While a brick wall can last a century or more, the mortar joints typically need to be repaired every two or three decades to prevent long-term damage to the structure of the home. Cracks and leaks can lead to long-term damage and costly repairs. Therefore, it is very important to continue to repair and maintain the structure throughout its lifetime. The materials that are used for mortar repair are very specific, especially if you want to maintain a uniform look and avoid further damage. Contact a professional to assess the status of your home’s masonry.

These are very labor intensive processes. Tuckpointing and repointing are necessary to maintain the structural security. Speak with a licensed professional about how you can best maintain walls, chimney, and masonry, especially for an older building. Be sure to address any mortar joint issues immediately to lengthen the lifetime of your home.

 

What Does Chimney Repair Cost?

chimney-repair-cost

Enjoy the beauty and comfort of a luxurious fireplace. However, be sure to maintain the fireplace to ensure a lifetime of use. Chimney repair cost may seem daunting to calculate, but there are actually several very basic pieces to consider when evaluating the overall price of professional chimney repair.

Chimney Sweeping

Reduce the risk of fire and maintain an elegant clean look by regular chimney sweeping. Costs can range into hundreds of dollars. The chimney repair cost overall will depend on the amount of creosote resin is coating the chimney wall. Creosote resin is released into the smoke. It accumulates quickly.

If you peek into your chimney with a flashlight and see more than a third of a centimeter or thicker, it is time to sweep your chimney. Routine cleaning will prevent the creosote from accumulating to high levels. While you should hire a professional to clean your chimney, some minor maintenance can be done by using chimney cleaning logs which help the tar fall away from your chimney walls. However, this is only a basic way to maintain the chimney. Most of the time, you will need a professional to remove the buildup.

Leaks

Mold and wood rot can be a problem if water leaks into the chimney. Water is acidic. Combining with the creosote rust can permanently destroy dampers. Water will also damage mortar and wood. Cost ranges from a few hundred to several hundred dollars. Contact a professional for an estimate.

Chimney Crown Repair

Chimney crown repair is an important part of good chimney maintenance. The crown prevents precipitation from traveling down the flue, protecting your home, the brick and mortar, and the overall structural integrity of your chimney. The crown may prevent critters from entering your home. The spark arrestor protects your home from stray embers and sparks. A cracked crown can allow water to enter the home, causing irreparable damage to the brick and mortar, wood, and your home. During inclement weather, smaller cracks in the chimney crown can expand, requiring a full chimney replacement.

Cracks and Chimney Replacement

A crack in your chimney can range from a couple of hundred dollars in repairs to a few thousand. If you find a crack in your chimney, it is best to repair it as soon as possible. A brick mortar repair is more affordable and may prevent nearly irreparable damage to your chimney. If you need to repair the entire chimney or replace it from the crown to the roofline, expect a price tag up of a few thousand dollars. In some cases, structural damage is too extreme for a partial repair and the entire chimney would have to be replaced. Expect to pay more than ten thousand dollars for a full chimney replacement.

Maintain your chimney regularly. Look for buildup, cracks, and leaks that may lead to larger costs. Call a professional to assess the status of your chimney to ensure safety and security for years to come.

 

To Parge or Not To Parge: Home Foundation Care

Many homeowners wonder about the benefits of parging concrete parging-concretefoundations of their home. There are several important reasons why parging should be considered by every homeowner. More than decorative, adding that extra coat to your walls and foundation provides extra protection for your home.

A Weather Barrier

For homeowners that live in areas with inclement weather like snow and large amounts of precipitation, that extra coat to your home’s foundation walls will help prevent unwanted cracks, damage, and holes caused over the years. While this may seem an additional expense that may not be required by the local building code, homes with exterior insulation really should have that extra protection. Parging concrete foundations will protect the insulation from sunlight and other factors that may cause wear and tear.

Parging protects the most vulnerable parts of your home’s exterior. Little cracks and holes in the foundation can easily grow into major problems when not addressed. This can be a large financial burden, not to mention a lead to unnecessary headaches. Sometimes you might not need to repair the entire foundation but simply patch up the affected area.

Aesthetics

The foundation of your home needs the utmost care. Left exposed to the elements, sunlight, and time, imperfections will result. For example, slow wearing away of exposed brick, holes, and cracks. You also might want to hide any imperfections and marks that may have taken place during construction. Parging provides an extra layer that will bring aesthetic beauty to your home. This adds to the home’s overall curb-appeal.

There are different types of parging that you might select to suit your home’s overall style and decor. Cement parging is pretty easy to work with and may be available in a variety of colors. If you want a durable finish, a little higher end, then try acrylic coating. This mix of cement and liquid acrylic is also available in a wide variety of colors. You can also add texture to further showcase your individual style. Be aware that you might not want to paint over your parging since the watertight finish may lead to deterioration underneath if not properly applied. Additionally, the color may be difficult to remove after application. Speak with your contractor about your concerns about upkeep and maintenance.

Hire a Professional

Protecting your home’s foundation from damage caused by water, ice, and snow is very important. Be sure to speak with highly qualified contractors about your concerns. With new home construction, include discussion about your needs for parging to protect your home. When you are purchasing an older home, there might be some obstacles to overcome. In some cases, you might need to replace the previous parging or have to contract for a total removal. Whatever you choose, be sure to speak with your contractor about what would work best to protect your foundation.

 

Cracked Concrete? Your Essential Guide to Parging Your Basement

The brick wall outside your building or home is cracked, with is-parging-necessaryexposed brick that has been slowly worn away by the elements. Parging will add an extra coat of protection to your wall, but you are not sure. Snow, rain, and ice have chipped away at the wall. Not only is it pretty ugly, but you know if you continue to ignore it that you will have to deal with a much bigger, more expensive problem.  Is parging necessary?

What is Parging?

Parging is an extra protective coat applied to your building or home foundation and walls. Sometimes made of cement or a mix that includes liquid acrylic, parging can provide an extra line of defense against the harsh elements. Over time snow, ice, rain, and water will tear away at exposed foundations and walls. Additional environmental factors like pollution and dirt, also take away from the aesthetic beauty of your home. Over time, minor cracks and holes can give way to major foundation and structural issues. These problems build up over time and can end up costing significant resources, time, and stress.

Is Parging Necessary?

When you are considering the cost of new construction or renovating an older building, consider the long-term benefits of parging. There are different options available for older buildings and new construction. Speak with your contractor about the key differences. You may find that you only have to do minor repairs to an existent foundation or wall. Prevent new buildings from damage caused by precipitation, snow, and environmental factors. Provide a new line of defense for years. Give your foundation the care that it needs.

Parging is not just about aesthetics. This extra coat is an affordable way to address existent problems like cracks and holes in the foundation. Prevent expensive construction later by speaking with your contractor about improving your home or building with parging. Avoid lasting permanent damage with an extra protective coat.

What’s Next?

Find a professional that has years of masonry experience and reliable service. Ask for references and review previous work completed. Ask about what options are available like using liquid acrylic mixes or choosing different colors and textures. Find out the most economical way that parging can improve the overall look and durability of your home or business. There are a variety of options, from simply repairing a small crack to parging an entire foundation, basement, or wall.

Don’t let a worn-down wall or foundation take away from your home’s beauty. Add extra value and protection to your business. Parging is an easy and affordable way to enhance the overall structural quality and aesthetics of your building.

Fireplace Brick Repair: Why Leaving Cracks is Not a Good Idea

The fireplace has been around for thousands of years and in all that time has remained largely unchanged. It’s a remarkable example of human ingenuity and like all the best ideas people have come up with its simple in both concept and execution. In fact it’s so simple that people tend to take it for granted, even to the point that when something happens to the fireplace or chimney they’ll put off repairs. But while the fireplace won’t ever rival the space shuttle in complexity the 2 actually have 1 important thing in common: even seemingly small problems can lead to catastrophic failures.

The Importance of Timely Brick Repair for Toronto Homes

Often times when homes settle cracks will appear in the brickwork of the fireplace. Sometimes these crack are tiny and almost imperceptible and sometimes they’re large. But in any case they can negatively affect the operation of your fireplace and present a very real threat to the health and safety of everyone in the house. How can that be? We’ll tell you.

  • Risk of fire – The fireplace/chimney combo looks sturdy as all get out and for the most part it is. But as we said homes can settle and unless they settle evenly (rare, but possible) you may wind up with cracks in your foundation, cracks in your walls and cracks in your fireplace and chimney. Why should you worry about such things? Because the fireplace gets incredibly hot and if cracks are present there’s the very real possibility that flames could penetrate to the surrounding combustible materials and then, well. Let’s just say that’s not good.
  • Carbon monoxide – If you have cracks in your fireplace brickwork it’s not only a fire hazard it presents a very real possibility of flooding the house with CO2. Carbon dioxide is a silent, invisible, odourless killer that is a byproduct of the fireplace combustion process. Cracks in the fireplace brickwork can allow this quiet killer to seep directly into the living area of your home. In essence it would be like leaving your car running in the living room. If you notice cracks in the brickwork around your fireplace call Cummins Restorations brick repair Toronto
  • Inefficient operation – Your fireplace works on the concept of there being an effective draft that pulls air in from the house to feed the fire. Cracks in the fireplace and/or chimney can undermine the effectiveness of that draft and cause your fires to sputter and burn inefficiently. Not only that but the less efficiently the fire burns the more smoke it typically produces. More smoke equals more CO2 and, as we already know by now, CO2 is potentially deadly.

Don’t take a chance with the health and safety of everyone in the house. If you know of or suspect cracks in your fireplace call Cummins Restorations for expert brick repair in Toronto. We’ve got the experience and expertise to diagnose your fireplace problems in a hurry and set things right.

5 Reasons Your Chimney Might Be Leaking

Chimney Repair TorontoWhen they think about their chimney most folks don’t think about the possibility of it leaking. But leaking is actually more common than you might imagine. Most of the time chimney leaks have pretty straightforward causes that can be repaired fairly easily by a qualified chimney expert. Although in some cases a leak that seems like it’s from the chimney might actually have another source. In this post we’re going to help you determine the cause of your chimney leak (if that’s what it is) and how we’d go about fixing it for you.

Affordable, Reliable Chimney Repair for Toronto Homeowners

Chimney leaks typically have one of 5 causes. They are

  1. Rain – Often times when a homeowner finds water in their fireplace it’s because rain is falling directly down the chimney. The simple way around this problem is to call for chimney repair in Toronto and have us install a chimney cap. The chimney cap will not only keep out the rain it will prevent raccoons and other pests from moving in and blocking up your chimney.
  2. A cracked chimney crown – While your chimney may be 24” x 18” (+/-) the actual opening at the top is much smaller. Cement is typically used to fill in the space at the top around the opening. That cement barrier is called the “crown”. Sometimes the crown develops cracks and allows rain and/or snow melt into the chimney. It’s important to repair a cracked crown ASAP.
  3. The flashing – The flashing is the protective skirt that covers the chimney opening in the roof. Most flashings are properly installed and thus most homeowners are never aware of them. However, if the flashing is poorly installed or you’ve recently had roof work done the flashing can develop leaks. In this case we’d need to get up on the roof and repair the flashing for you.
  4. Leaks in the brickwork – Water is opportunistic. If there are even the tiniest openings in the brickwork water can work its way in and wreak havoc. During the winter this water will freeze and thaw and wind up creating cracks in your brickwork just like it does in the roads. In this case you’ll need us to do a thorough examination of your chimney to find the cracks and repair them.
  5. Condensation inside the chimney – If you’ve had a gas fireplace installed and the chimney wasn’t properly lined to accommodate the moisture-heavy fumes it creates that moisture can collect inside the chimney. Eventually, the walls that come in contact with the wet chimney will suffer from water stains along with peeling paint or wallpaper. The solution here is for us to get in there and install an effective chimney lining for you.

As we said if one of these is not the source of your leak there’s a good chance it’s something like damaged roofing shingles or a blocked gutter that’s allowing water into the walls near the chimney. The best course of action if you suspect a leaky chimney is to call Cummings Restorations for first class chimney repair in Toronto.

The Difference Between Tuckpointing and Repointing

Tuckpointing TorontoAlthough they refer to 2 different processes the terms tuckpointing and repointing are often used interchangeably. This perhaps because they both involve replacing mortar in brickwork. However the 2 processes use different approaches; one largely utilitarian the other utilitarian but with an aim that is more overtly cosmetic. Below we’ll take a closer look at both processes as well as what’s involved with each and when you might want or need to call for tuckpointing or repointing.

Repointing or Tuckpointing? Toronto Homeowners Need to Know

When the mortar between your brickwork breaks down you’ll need to have it repaired as quickly and effectively as possible. But do you need repointing or tuckpointing? Toronto brick repair experts Cummins Restorations explain the difference.

  • Repointing – Mortar on brickwork, particularly older brickwork, tends to get brittle over time and either fall out or be forced out by the house settling, the freeze/thaw cycle of water that is trapped in tiny cracks or because of accident. Replacing it as quickly as possible is key to maintaining the integrity of your home’s brickwork and the safety of everyone inside. Repointing involves a straight up replacement of the damaged mortar. Any loose or otherwise compromised mortar is removed from between the bricks and a 1 for 1 replacement occurs with new mortar filling in the space. Repointing is without a doubt the simpler of the two methods and is extremely effective at repairing damage to your mortar.
  • Tuckpointing – Where repointing and tuckpointing converge is that they both involve removing any loose or damage mortar. Where they diverge is in how they go about replacing it. With repointing the damaged mortar is replaced straight up with new mortar, typically white. With tuckpointing two different colour mortars are used with one being the colour of the brickwork itself and the other being (typically) white. Once the compromised mortar is removed the two different colour mortars are used to create the impression that the mortar joint itself is thinner than it actually is. That is, the coloured mortar is used to make the bricks look bigger than they are and the joint look narrower than it is. Tuckpointing evolved more than 200 years ago as a way to imitate the look of expensive “rubbed brick” that was all the rage in England at the time and which featured the thinner joint.

Do You Need Repointing or Tuckpointing?

The mortar in your brickwork will typically start to show signs of age and/or damage 2 to 3 decades after the house is built or the brickwork installed. Signs to look for that indicate your mortar needs some TLC include:

  • Crumbling mortar
  • Fine cracks in the mortar
  • Space between the mortar and brick

If you believe you need brickwork or mortar repair call the company more Toronto homeowners trust than any other, Cummins Restorations. We’ll get someone out to look at your brickwork in a hurry, diagnose the problem and provide you an estimate for repointing, tuckpointing or any other procedure you may require. That’s Cummins Restorations for tuckpointing in Toronto on (416) 992-7965.

5 Ways to Keep Your Masonry Contractors Honest

Masonry Contractors in Toronto

Before

Masonry contractors in Toronto are no different than any other contractors. Some are honest, hardworking professionals dedicated to getting the job done right and others are dedicated to padding the bill, cutting corners and making excuses. While everyone hopes they get the first kind there’s no absolute way to tell if you might actually be getting the second kind. All you can really do is take preventive steps designed to head games off at the pass and keep your masonry contractor honest.

Tips for Dealing with Masonry Contractors in Toronto

If you’ve decided to engage the services of a particular masonry contractor he’s obviously passed muster with you on some level and that’s great. Now it’s your turn to impress him with the fact that you weren’t born yesterday. You do that by implementing these 5 common sense tips.

  1. Don’t pay in advance – Make sure it’s stipulated in the contract exactly how much you’ll need to pay up front and then stick to that amount. Typically this shouldn’t be more than 10% of the total cost of the job. If the contractor starts telling you tales of woe to try and elicit a larger up-front payment listen respectfully and wish him good luck with all of that.
  2. Get everything in writing – You might feel you don’t really need to lay out all the grisly details in the contract but you’d be mistaken. Thinking you have some sort of bond with the contractor that will ensure he undertakes all the special touches the two of you talked about without it all being written down is kind of like believing in the tooth fairy.
  3. Make it clear who’s securing the permits – It should be stipulated in writing in the contract exactly who will be securing the necessary permit for the work. If a prospective masonry contractor tells you there’s no need for a building permit or simply gives you their word they’ll pick one up first chance they get don’t believe it.
  4. Don’t get bamboozled – Some less than savoury masonry contractors in Toronto will try and pull the ye olde “unforeseen problems” scam on you. If you suddenly hear one day that they’ll need to secure an additional payment because the cost of mortar skyrocketed or they encountered “problems” with your home that are making the job more difficult whip out the contract and ask them to pinpoint the clause that allows them to do that.
  5. Demand to see proof of insurance – There is more than one contractor out there plying their trade without adequate insurance. These guys are ticking time bombs and to ensure one doesn’t go off while working on your home always, that’s always, insist on seeing proof of insurance (both liability and workman’s compensation).

Masonry contractors in Toronto are by and large hard working, reliable, honest folks who do an outstanding job for their customers. Like any trade however there are those who will try to get away with things. It’s up to you not to provide them the opportunity to do so.

How Avoiding Chimney Repair Can REALLY Come Back to Bite You

Many homeowners put “repair the chimney” pretty far down on their “to do” list but they shouldn’t. While it’s tempting to delay fixing a problem with the chimney (because after all, it’s the chimney, not something really important like the TV) delaying could wind up creating a slew of other problems that will make the original chimney repair job seem like pretty small beer indeed. Sure, a chimney is a tough looking character (being brick and all) but if it’s become cracked or otherwise compromised waiting to have if fixed could come back to haunt you big time.

Why Chimney Repair Can’t Wait

When most homeowners become aware of problems with their chimney they take the necessary steps to repair it. Others, however, will tempt fate and see if they can get by as is, usually in an effort to save a few bucks. The thing is the few bucks they save now have a way of turning into beaucoup bucks down the road and here’s 3 of the ways that can happen.

  1. Cracks in the brick work – Water is the indispensable resource, that thing we simply can’t live without and most of the time seems like a pretty benign compound. But water is one of the most persistent and destructive forces on earth. If your chimney has developed freeze/thaw cracks and water is leaking in unchecked your chimney’s damper will rust, the flue liner will become compromised and water will eventually find its way into the walls of your home where it will wreak havoc on the wood joists, insulation and electrical wiring; which will all need to be repaired or replaced.
  2. Rusty damper – As we mentioned above water leaking into the chimney can cause the damper to rust. When that happens you’ll likely be looking at a colder living room and having to pay more for your monthly heating bill. That’s because when dampers get rusty they often get stuck in the open position. This allows cold air to blow down the chimney into the house making your living room colder and requiring you to jack the thermostat to compensate.
  3. Damaged flashing – The point at which your chimney meets the roof is not an exact fit. Something is needed to cover the imperfect join area to prevent, you guessed it, water from leaking in around the chimney and getting into the roof, attic walls and the walls of the lower floors. That something is the flashing. If your flashing needs to be replaced or repaired and you fail to do so you’re looking at problems all the way from the shingles to the cellar.

Chimney repair is no laughing matter. The chimney has a central role to play in the life of your home and if it’s compromised the home is compromised. Delaying repairs just means the degree of that compromise will grow exponentially and so too will the bills for fixing all the problems that have sprung from it. Call Cummins Restorations Inc. to find out more about chimney repair.

Solid Masonry Vs Brick Veneer

masonry TorontoWhen it comes to building with masonry in Toronto you have two principal choices for your brick home: solid masonry or brick veneer. While solid masonry (also called “solid brick”) and brick veneer buildings both employ real bricks in their construction, they do so in fundamentally different ways that will affect costs, construction times and the durability of your home.

  • Solid brick – With solid brick homes a double thick layer of bricks – or a layer of concrete block and a layer of brick – is used to form the exterior of the house. This method calls for the double layer of brick or adjoining layers of concrete and brick to actually bear the load of the house. In other words the bricks are a structural element.
  • Brick veneer – A so-called “brick veneer” house by comparison has exterior walls with steel or wood framing that bear the load of the house. Once this structural skeleton is in place it’s sheathed in wood and the layer of brick is built immediately in front of the shell and affixed to the structure using metal ties. The brick is thus relieved of load-bearing responsibilities.

More About the Different Types of Masonry in Toronto

While real bricks are employed in both homes made of solid masonry in Toronto and brick veneer homes they’re applied in ways that leave tell-tale signs building inspectors and others can use to determine what type of brick home you have. Some of those signs include:

For Solid Brick

  • Reinforced window arches – In solid brick homes you’ll commonly see inward facing bricks in the area surrounding the windows. This is done to buttress the structural integrity of the opening and is a “tell” that the house is solid brick.
  • “Header” bricks – Header bricks are laid perpendicular to the rest of the bricks and form a bridge between layers that increases stability and strength of the wall. With header bricks only their end will be visible.

For Brick Veneer

  • Weep holes – Typically the layer of brick will sit 1 or 2 inches away from the load bearing wall and “weep holes” are used to ensure moisture in the space between the brick and the wood frame is allowed to vent.
  • Lack of header bricks – Another “tell” that a wall is brick veneer and not solid brick is the lack of header bricks and their distinctive butt-end profile that’s generated by placing the header brick perpendicular to the rest of the wall.

Benefits of Solid Masonry

The benefits of solid brick walls are greater stability and resistance to extreme weather or other environmental conditions. It’s not unusual for solid masonry homes to last centuries. They’re also impervious to termites and the walls will never rot.

Benefits of Brick Veneer

The benefits of brick veneer include affordability, ease of installation, the fact that a lighter (and so less expensive) foundation can be used and the fact that the space between the brick and wood frame acts as an effective insulating layer.

For more information on brick homes or general questions about masonry in Toronto call Cummins Restorations Inc. today on (416) 992-7965.