I had someone repair my front brick porch. Is this job SO bad that I should
refuse to pay the balance and tell the contractor to sue me if he wants the
last $100 of a $450 job? I've never seen work this awful. I am tempted to
sue him to see if I can recover what I expect to be a fairly costly clearnup
of his botched job. How would I or someone I hired correct this abortion?
Wire brushing? Powerwashing? Muriatic acid?
Thanks for any help you can offer.
repairing that sloppy mess
I am going to experiment with a few of those methods to see what works best.
I am afraid it's going to cost me some bucks to get it done right. Someone
I talked to today suggested sandblasting, but I had hoped to find someone
who had actually had this problem to recommend some options. I don't want
to do anymore damage than has already been done trying to fix the problem.
It's partially my fault for not supervising him more closely. Live and
learn, I guess.
What's a Rug brick and what other options do I have? The surface mortar's
dried (very white) but the mortar in the joints (what he actually managed to
get it there - as it dries it shrinks) still looks damp. He's coming by to
fix it with a grinder - which could REALLY destroy the texture of the
brick!! - so I was hoping to give him a definitive way to deal with the
problem. I am beginning to think this job was so atrocious there's no way
to fix it without damaging the bricks in some way. I think the money's lost
(as in he has none) but I might be able to get him to do some free
landscaping in atonement for such a horrible job. And it really is
I posted this message on Homeowner's Hub the other day and still have no
answers from anyone there. Boo!!! A quick answer might have allowed me to
hose off the still damp mortar while it was still damp. I am mad at myself
for not thinking about doing that until it was too late.
Homeowner's Hub did provide me with an easy way to post pictures though.
Much easier than a lot of dedicated photo sites, in fact. And there was a
good thread about Usenet which led me here to a lot of good advice.
On Sun, 28 Jun 2015 20:17:45 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"
RUG brick is brick with a heavy texture which resembles - - The pile
on a berber rug. Your picture shows it to be rug brick. I'd pressure
wash it, possibly after picking out as much as possible by hand, then
wash down with muriatic acid, and then rince it with clear water - but
the secret is to do it TODAY since it is already too late to do it
yesterday. Depends what mortar he used - if type S mortar (lime and
portland) it continues to harden for months. If it a simple lime base,
muriatic acid will remove it fairly well, If type S, it will be more
Mix 10% muriatic - wet the brick -soak with acid - it should fizz -
after a few minutes rinse it off and see if the mortar was loosened at
all - pick off what you can, then reapply acid. Repeat as necessary
untill clean. After the acid starts working on the mortar a stiff
bristle brush can be used - but ONLY AFTER RINSING. Wear rubber
gloves when working with the acid, and always add acid to water, not
the other way 'round.
All good information. I'll be heading out to HomeDepot to pick up acid,
gloves, a new wirebrush (still can't find the one I know/knew I had) and
other things to use to clear the mortar. I'll set my less-then-stellar
"mason" (maybe he is more of a mason-ite) to work using the method you've
outlined. Will also find out exactly what mortar he used as well.
Thanks again, Clare.
Muriatic is the last thing I would use without an expert mason's advice.
How large an area is involved? More than your picture? A simple
disguise with paint might be much more satisfactory than trying to
remove mortar....acryllic paint in two or three shades from brick, stiff
brush. I did some cover-up on a concrete floor after a condo neighbor
slopped walnut stain all over it. It is hard to get any kind of paint
out of mortar, so it won't come off easily. I would start with the
darkest shade from the brick, then dabble over part of that, mottling so
that some of each color shows. If you are half-way skilled at matching
colors, it might be a satisfactory fix. I would certainly not let the
moron who did this touch it again!
The story gets much, MUCH worse. The very helpful neighbor who recommended
him pretty much begged me to give him a chance to fix what he had done. I
REALLY didn't want to, but some things you have to do just to keep the peace
and at least seem to be fair.
He came back to "fix it" with 2 gallons of 37% HCl acid. He starts just
pouring it from the bottle right on the bricks. Holy crap! Oodles of red,
bubbling foam form up and of course he has no hose or rinse water standing
by (I did, though).
We rinse it off quickly (it was eating the brick, too - that's where the red
came from) and then he goes to dilute it half and half. FWIW, I had him
start his "demonstration" of what he intended to do to fix it on the
backside of the porch that no one really ever sees. Before I can warn him,
he decided to change to a plastic milk jug and dilute the mix, which he did
backwards (water into acid). After that very impressive boilover, he
switched to a spray bottle (no gloves, respirator or goggles, mind you!!!).
His lungs must be burning today because he was spritzing that stuff at eye
level for about an hour.
Then, just as I have had enough, his wife and two year old daughter arrived
to help. Really. You can't make this stuff up. Then I turn to see my
"pseudo-mason" starting to chip away at the excess, HCl-soaked mortar at eye
level without goggles. That was the last straw. Since he was a friend of a
very helpful neighbor, I needed a lot of "evidence" to convict him of
incompetence and send him away. I certainly got it in a very short time.
(Some would say I already had more than enough!) Letting his little girl
run around the jobsite with acid sitting around was unbelievable to me. I
thought of what I would say in court if she got hurt. Thinking about the
liability I said "Pack it up, you're going home." I told him that he said
he knew how to do this, but he didn't even know to use a mortar sponge -
that's all there is to it. I said "it's not my fault - it's yours. I don't
want to have the whole place slathered in acid (by this time my eyes and
throat were burning!!) while you spend days trying to fix what should have
never happened." He packed up (telling me he had another friend coming by
to help but I didn't care) and left. I suspect he knew how badly he had
screwed up and bringing the family was a sympathy ploy that backfired as
badly as his mortar work did. I think this is the worst job I have ever had
a worker do. A repainting (without prep) of the wood porch supports was
pretty damn bad, but that was easy to fix - do it again with proper scraping
and prep. But this bad brickwork would have taken about three days to fix,
at least according to how long it took to clean 10 bricks with a brush (when
the mortar wasn't thorough set).
Today a friend is coming and we're going to see if a power washer does any
better. It's really only a test for future reference because the porch
pretty much has to come down and be replaced by a sunroom/mudroom. This
fiasco merely forced my hand and made me resolute to NEVER "hire this guy
because he's been out of work, has a kid, a pregnant wife, sob, sob, sob."
I came back inside and took my BP which really spiked from the conflict. I
guess I am getting too damn old to deal with bald-faced liars anymore.
OK - onto the power washer. Since it's removed plenty of things that I
didn't want removed before, maybe this time it will clear some of the
On Tuesday, June 30, 2015 at 9:41:44 AM UTC-4, TomR wrote:
Yes, to say the least. I confirms what I said from the beginning, that
this work was so totally incompetent that it's hard to see how the same
guy is going to fix it and I probably would not have given him the chance.
When folks were recommending acid, I was wondering what effect that might
have on the bricks, meaning can you just clean one area with it? Or
once you start, will it brighten up the area so that you then have to
clean the whole wall or it won't match? IDK, have no experience there.
But maybe acid in the screwed spots and power washing all over would
work? OP was smart having the knucklehead start in a back area that
isn't prime visibility.
And so much for neighbor recommendations. Just shows you that sometimes
even that doesn't work. Apparently this guy can't paint either.
Somebody that incompetent, hard to imagine what he can do right.
One of the first rules with any competent repair guy is from Clint
Eastwood: "A man's gotta know his limits". I can do a lot of stuff,
but I've never done brick pointing and I would never attempt that
work for someone else. If I had a small spot to be done, I might
use it as an opportunity to learn on my own house.
As I mentioned earlier, I am amateur when it comes to re-pointing bricks
etc., and I managed to do a really crapped job on my own red brick fronts
steps recently. But, based on what people here suggested, and some good
YouTube videos, I decided to use diluted muriatic acid to try to clean up my
mistakes. It worked well, and by diluting the muriatic acid as suggested by
others I found that the acid had no impact on the red bricks. It only
fizzed with the relatively new mortar and made it easier to get the excess
mortar screw-ups off of the brick. It didn't lighten the bricks in the
areas where I used the diluted muriatic acid, and those bricks looked the
same as the other bricks that were not hit with the acid after the job was
done. There was no red brick fizzing -- just mortar fizzing.
I agree. I have several contractor-type friends who work for themselves and
do all kinds of contractor/construction work. But, one thing that I have
found is that nearly every one of these types of people that I meet almost
always say is that they can do whatever the job is. They lack the ability
to just say "no" and say that I am not completely sure or experienced enough
in that area to do that particular type of job. Some of these people are
friends of mine, and I often try to get them to know when to say "no". I
also sometimes look up on YouTube how a job that they are doing or about to
do is supposed to be done and pass that on to them. They tend not to be
computer literate enough to research the various types of jobs on the
Internet to learn the right and wrong ways to do things.
The guy who did the brickpointing in this case is an extreme example of
someone just saying, "I can do that" when, in fact, he has absolutely no
clue on how to do it and no ability to even look up how to do it on YouTube
Don't let him anywhere near it. He is incompetent.
It takes a month for mortar to fully cure but you won't be able to wash it
Your only choices are to physically remove it and/or chemically remove it.
If it were me, I'd be out there with a chisel (an old screw driver is OK)
and a hammer knocking off the big gobs and all else I could; after that, a
wire brush and after that, acid. A pressure washer might help, too. Re the
wire brush, by hand should cause no problem but be careful using a powered
Whatever you do, do it as soon as possible, the mortar is getting harder
I used an old file which seemed to be best followed by a wire brushing (by
hand) and then a rinse down. I did a single surface of 10 bricks in 15
minutes. Extrapolating that means it's not cost effective to repair The
next option is to knock the porch down and construct a sun room. That porch
will never be right and there's no sense of thowing any more money at it.
Now to see if I can get any of my money back for the horrible work done so
OMG, that is horrid. I'd not pay as the first step. I'd give him the
opportunity to make it right. If he does, pay. If he does not, take
the next step to sue for whatever it will take to make it right.
On Sunday, June 28, 2015 at 11:51:22 AM UTC-4, Ed Pawlowski wrote:
The only question is if it's horrid enough that he doesn't have to
and shouldn't give the half-assed contractor a chance to fix it.
If someone demonstrates total incompetence, you don't necessarily
have to give them a chance to fix it. On the other hand, I guess
he probably can't make it worse either, so maybe he should let him
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