I am useless at pointing. Having a large slab laid area I find pointing
it difficult and time consuming. Worse of all is keeping the surrounding
slabs clean, I've tried using dry mortar mix but even fail at that.
Having seen this tool advertised and watched the video I wondered if
anyone had first hand experience of it, and what they thought? I know
the video looks great, but like most other people I have bought items at
shows where the demonstrator made it look easy, only to get home and
find the item useless.
Some views expressed here earlier this year can be viewed at
IME what you need is a damp mortar mix i.e. just enough water to darken
the colour of the cement, and no more. I watched a master craftsman
doing a large crazy paving area recently and he was mixing his mortar
that way with great care.
The right mix, care and, above all, practice beat *any* special tool. I
used a small bricklaying trowel with either a rounded or pointed end for
every style from a nice double tuck with a peak in the middle, to the
recessed, almost half round shape.
IANE but to pack the joints here I used a bit bent steel strip about
1/2" wide and 1/8" thick. Place mortar on trowel or hawk offer up to
bottom edge of joint and push in with the bent steel strip.
The proper tool name is a brick jointer, google images has plenty of
I work with two trowels, a large one used as a mortar board, and a
small (pointing) trowel to do the work. I repoint with a 6:1:1 mix,
with the addition of a waterproofer (or combined waterproofer/
plasticiser) if the location if particularly exposed to rain/wind.
Note that "pointing" is only the outer half inch of mortar - if you
are raking out more than that, that's not just repointing, but is
more structural. You should not routinely rake out lime mortar that
deep - it's only chalk and sand and you can rake it all out if you
keep going, but that doesn't mean there was anything wrong with it.
You only want the loose stuff out which has been weathered and isn't
The mix is everything. Make/shape a piece of evenly flat mortar on
the board, thickness slightly thinner than the gap it has to go in.
Cut a clean square edge on it with the pointing trowel. Now move back
about an inch so you are cutting an inch strip, and slide it off the
mortar board. If you have the mix right, the edge of it sticks to the
pointing trowel, and you can push it between the bricks without
touching the brick faces. It will fall off the pointing trowel
eventually, so don't take too long standing there thinking about the
positioning/angle of attack. As you master this, you will realise how
perfectly shaped the pointing trowel is. The two edges, and the option
of forehand and backhand, give you loads of positioning options for
inserting the mortar into cracks.
If the mortar slides off, it's too wet, or you're too ambitious on the
size of the chunk you're trying to do in one go. If it crumbles
without forming a single coherent piece, it's probably too dry, or it's
been mixed up too long and has set too much (cement mortar).
A slight variation if you can't master getting the mortar to stick to
the pointing trowel is to slide it in from the larger trowel, but this
is not as professional, and may indicate you have the wrong mix, and
thus more liable to get cement staining on the brick faces.
In either case, use the trowel to force as much in as possible, but
don't worry about the finish yet.
Once you've got the mortar in the gap (usually when you've done a run
of bricks), you then need to tidy up the pointing. The object here is
to end up with a finish on the exposed mortar which is consistent,
and is polished with damp steel which makes it smooth and weatherproof.
It's easier to do this after the bricks have sucked a little moisture
out of the mortar, which is why you leave it at least a few minutes.
There are lots of different pointing finishes, but you should try to
match whats already there, although things like ribbon pointing are
not for beginners. The two easiest are a slight rain shedding slope
which you do with the brick trowel, and the curved "bucket handle"
finish which you do with a curved pointing tool (not normally with
a bucket handle, although that's probably where the name came from
originally). Some excess mortar will be ejected as you do either of
these, but it will be dry enough to be crumbly by this time and
should just fall away without sticking/staining the brick faces.
If you do make a mess of the brick faces, there's always the option
to clean up with brick acid after a few weeks (when the mortar is
well set), but don't use that anywhere near a lime mortar wall.
[email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
I've got one. One attempt at lime mortar pointing went horribly wrong
(it squeezed a lot of the water out and then clogged up the nozzle). I
contacted them and they were very helpful. I am not experienced with
lime mortar so I'm not blaming the tool yet - I need more tries with
less water and more time to fatten the mortar up, then I'll be able to
say if it's any good or not! The video makes it look very good though,
and I have deep crevices that need filling, so if it works, it will
ensure that the spaces are filled properly (but I'll probably poke it in
with a wooden spatula or something just to make sure it has filled the
That's why I bought one - I'd joints where there was nothing behind the
pointing until the plaster on t'other side of the 9" wall (or until the
inside of the chimney stack).
I've not used lime mortar but the (now generally deprecated) 9:2:1 mix.
With the pointmaster's nozzle adjusted to fit into the slot I can squirt
a nice and fluffy mix at least 4" into the joint. Anyone younger and/or
who eats their spinach could probably do better :)
I am still crap at pointing in terms of the final finish but (i) I've
still not had much practice and more important (ii) I am *much* faster
at getting a decent whack of mortar deep into the joint.
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