Making the tuckppointing match??


A friend has front steps to his house that are brick and the mortar in some cases is broken or missing.
He had a half gallon of premixed cement or something, in grey, to use between the bricks. (although maybe it was powder and had to be mixed. It was in a plastic tub.)
1) Grey is sort of the right color, but is there anything he can do to make the color closer to what he has now on his 40-year old front steps?
BTW What did wealthy people do 100 years ago when they had the house tuckpointed. Did new mortar always match the old mortar? There certainly wasn't a layer of new mortar everywhere, was there?
2) His bottom step, one brick high, has separated from the rest of the steps. All in one piece maybe 10 bricks wide, the bricks standing on their narrow edge, and more at at one end than at the other. I'm thinking water got in and froze and kept pushing the set of bricks further from the other steps. How to put them back where they were??? I'm thinking put a 4x4 in front of all the bricks, and some way to use a auto jack to push against some stakes pounded into the ground??? Any better ideas??? A bottle jack, scissors jack, floor fack??
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mm wrote:

They sell mortar tint to match old mortar. Go to a real concrete/mason supply store, not the Borg. As to the heaved steps- well, I guess you have nothing to lose, as long as the bricks are tightly bonded together. Be a shame for someone do step there in cold weather and have the bricks seperate and roll, and they fall on their ass. Correct solution is demo and rebuild, probably of the whole front stoop, with proper footers and drainage underneath. And rebar or something to tie it all together. Usual modern practice is a concrete or block core, with the face brick just being a veneer.
Don't feel like the lone ranger- my concrete front steps are heaved, too.
-- aem sends...
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There are highly paid experts that spend their lives matching old mortar. It isn't an easy process.
Really old mortar was often very high in lime, and was also often very soft. Harder mortar could pop the face off softer old bricks due to temperature changes.
The step should probably be taken apart and redone, with some provision that holds it to the rest of the stairs, but this isn't really a DIY project either.
JK
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This is an art form. It takes an experienced artist to do the job right. BTW it is not just about color. There are many different kinds of mortar and using the wrong one can not only look bad, but damage the wall. This is especially true when working with old work (Like 50 - 150 years old).
Patching is not really a DIY job.
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