Repointing Brickwork: A Step-by-Step Guide

Written by  John Davies
Last updated: January 16, 2024

Brick structures are extremely durable and weather-resistant. They will last even longer if you maintain them properly. One such maintenance practice is repointing. In simple terms, brickwork repointing is the process of repairing the worn mortar joints of a brick structure.

Repointing brickwork improves aesthetics and protects the structural integrity of a brick structure. Professional brickwork repointing costs around £40 to £60 per square metre. However, this is something that you can handle yourself to save costs. 

DIY brickwork repointing costs £12 to £24. So, it’s an attractive option for many people. That’s why we created this article to show you how to repoint brickwork yourself. However, you will still find this information helpful if hiring a professional. So, keep reading.

How to Repoint Brickwork: A Step-by-step Guide

If you’ve chosen DIY Brickwork repointing, you’re in the right place! Below is a detailed, step-by-step guide on how to repoint brickwork all by yourself.


  • Water
  • Hammer: £5-£10
  • Narrow chisel or screwdriver: £5-£20
  • Wired brushes: £2-£16
  • Lime mortar: £0.40-£0.50 per kg
  • Soft brush: £1-£10
  • Sand: £0.08-£0.10 per kg
  • Mortarboard: £10-£50
  • Pointing trowel: £5-£15
  • Scaffolding: £40-£150 per day

Once you’ve got everything in order, you can begin the repointing process:

Step 1: Lightly Spray The Wall With Water

The first step in repointing brickwork is to dampen the surface of the wall. Do this slightly. You don’t need to douse the entire wall in water. You just need slight dampness to prevent the new mortar from drying out too quickly. Mortar that dries too quickly tends to crack in the near future.

Step 2: Remove Old Pointing

Once the wall (especially the pointing) is damp, use the hammer and chisel (or screwdriver) to remove the old pointing. This process is called raking. Remove all the cracked, damaged or deteriorating mortar. At the minimum, remove mortar up to twice the height of the joint. For example, if the joint is 15mm high, remove mortar up to 30mm deep.

Step 3: Clean The Joint

Once you’ve removed all the damaged mortar, use your wired and soft brushes (in turn) to remove leftover debris or dust. Try to remove all the remnants so you can start the next step on a clean slate. Soft brushes are better for this purpose, though some people might like to use a wired brush, too, if it feels necessary.

Step 4: Apply Fresh Mortar

Now, we are at the most important step of repointing brickwork. Once the joints are tidy, it’s time to apply fresh mortar into the gaps. You’ll need your mortarboard, trowel, and lime mortar mix for this.

Begin at the lowest point of the wall. This area is the most likely to get damaged by extra moisture around it. So, it must be filled immediately. Start at the very bottom and build upwards for the first metre or so. Once you’ve filled it, switch over to the top and begin filling in from there. The middle section will be filled in last.

Don’t worry too much about neatness right now, but try to avoid spilling mortar over the bricks. What’s important is that you get enough mortar into the empty sections. Watch out for possible air bubbles, too, and try to get the mixture into all the nooks and crannies that need filling. Don’t be stingy. Apply as much mixture as needed wherever you have to!

Step 5: Allow the Mortar to Dry, Then Add the Finishing Touches

Touch the mortar gently to confirm if it’s dry. If your fingertips come away completely dry, your brick wall is ready. For the final step, pick up the wired brush again. Use it to scrape away excess mortar and remove any mixture of stains from the surrounding area.

Step 6: Dispose Waste

Kudos, you just finished repointing brickwork by yourself. Now, it is time for waste disposal.

What Does Repointing Brickwork Involve?

Brick structures are created by using mortar to hold bricks together. Without these mortar joints, the structure would collapse. The structure will also be porous, allowing water and dampness to enter and damage it. Aside from structural integrity, those mortar joints play a huge role in the aesthetic appeal of brick walls.

Mortar isn’t as strong as brick. Therefore, sooner or later, the signs of wear and tear will start to show up. The mortar will start to weaken and fall off. Therefore, those joints become weak, compromising structural integrity. 

Then, water and dampness enter the brick wall and, with time, get into the house. There, they could damage plasterwork, insulation, and skirting, among others. Even furniture is also at risk.

Mortar makes up 15% of the total surface area of a brick wall. So, imagine the damage this could cause. At the very least, the brick wall could collapse. This is the point of repointing brickwork. It’s about repairing those mortar joints and making a brick wall healthy again.

Pointing is the finish on mortar joints of brick walls. So, when repointing brickwork, you (or the tradesperson) have to remove the old pointing. Then, apply new ones. The process is slightly more complicated, but basically, this is how to repoint brickwork. 

How Much Does Repointing Brickwork Cost?

Professional brickwork repointing costs around £40 to £60 per square metre. This will vary depending on factors like size, mortar type, pointing style, condition of the brickwork, accessibility and your location. However, that estimate should be enough to hire a bricklayer to repoint a brick wall.

Of course, you can also take the DIY approach. We have already shown you how to repoint brickwork. As you’ve seen, the process is straightforward and not technical. Besides, it is a great way to save money. DIY brickwork repointing costs just £12 to £24. That is a 60% to 70% price difference. So, you are right to consider repointing brickwork yourself.

However, there are lots of good reasons to hire a professional for brickwork repointing. Here are some.

  • You may not be comfortable working at height. Repointing brickwork usually involves this.
  • A professional job might be neater and better.
  • The brickwork may need other repairs.
  • There is a risk of causing further damage while repointing brickwork

Repointing Brickwork Yourself: Top Tips

Now that you know how to repoint brickwork, here are some tips that will make the project easier.

Be Careful to Avoid Damaging the Bricks

This is especially important when dealing with older bricks. However, whether you are repointing old or modern bricks, you still need to be careful. You don’t want to crack or chip the bricks. You also don’t want mortar spilling all over the bricks and running their looks.

Don’t Repoint in the Rain

There is nothing wrong with repointing brickwork under a light shower. The problem is heavy rainfall. Rain can wash away wet mortar, ruining your hard work.

Also, brick walls are highly vulnerable during the repointing process. The joints are at their most vulnerable when you remove old pointing. Rain can easily find its way into your wall during this period. Hence, it’s better to avoid repointing brickwork in the rain. Besides, who likes working in the rain?

Use Lime-Based Mortar

Lime-based mortar (AKA type O mortar) is the best mix for repointing brickwork. It’s great for old and modern brickworks alike. Therefore, it is your best bet. However, you can use cement-based mortar (type O mortar) when repointing brickwork on a modern building. Type O mortar is also called general-purpose mortar. It is the most used and popular type of mortar for most home improvement projects.

Use Soft Sand and a High-Quality Plasticiser

These two will give you the best result. Avoid microfilament sand. It lacks essential fine particles. 

Learn How to Make a Proper Mortar Mix

This is crucial because the mortar mix is the most important piece in repointing brickwork. The job can’t be perfect if the mortar is too watery or too thick. Fortunately, the sand or mortar should come with instructions. You can also do further research online.

Here are two great tips for mixing mortar for repointing brickwork or any other project.

  • Use appropriate containers and mixing tools, or else you might end up with air bubbles or a mixture that’s either too coarse or too fine.
  • Adding water in gradual stages and not at once. This will reduce the risk of mistakenly adding too much water to the mix.


Repointing brickwork is an essential maintenance practice. It’s something that you must do if you want to keep your brick walls strong and beautiful. Neglecting repointing will only lead to more expensive damages. So you need to handle this as soon as possible. 

Fortunately, brick walls only need repointing once in a while. Plus, you already know how to repoint brickwork yourself. Even if you decide to hire a professional, you can save money by handling parts of the project yourself. For example, you can handle waste removal and raking yourself. The latter task alone costs £20 to £40 per square metre. So, you have a lot of options.


How Often Should You Repoint Brickwork?

This depends on mortar quality and weather conditions in your area. High-quality mortar can last for up to 50 years, while external walls in harsh weather will need repointing more frequently. However, the pointing on the average brick wall will last between 20 to 30 years. So, at the most extreme, you’ll only be repointing brickwork every two or three decades.

How Do You Tell if a Brick Wall Needs Repointing?

Look for the following signs

  • The mortar between the brick is cracking and falling off
  • There are obvious gaps between brick and mortar
  • Dampness within the wall’s masonry
  • Water is seeping through the wall

To confirm or disprove your suspicions, you can run a sharp knife across the mortar fillings. If the filling comes off easily, it’s time to repoint the brickwork.

What Temperature Can You Repoint Brickwork?

The ideal temperature for repointing brickwork (and mortar-related masonry in general) is 21 degrees Celsius. However, a temperature range of 15 to 26 degrees Celsius is more than good enough. You should consider these temperature ranges because:

  • Mortar dries too quickly when the ambient temperature is too hot. When this happens, the mortar will crack and deteriorate too quickly.
  • Mortar doesn’t dry fast enough when the ambient temperature is too low. In cold temperatures, mortar won’t dry and set. Instead, the water between the mortar and bricks may freeze over and cause the expansion of the new fillings.

What’s the Best Mix for Repointing Brickwork?

Lime-based (AKA type O) mortar is the best mix for repointing brickwork. Cement-based (type N) mortar is the next best option.

exposed brick wall
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