|Several bricks off the top here were totally loose!|
Of course, you can have samples of your historic brick and mortar analyzed so that a custom-blended, color-matched mortar can be made... But this isn't exactly in our budget, and aesthetics aren't a huge concern in this case since the brick piers are under the house. My main concern was choosing a mortar that wasn't too rigid for our bricks. I learned that bricks expand and contract with fluctuations in moisture/temperature; thus, if the mortar surrounding the brick is too rigid, the brick could crack and lead to structural integrity issues. Based on recommendations from the National Park Service and This Old House, we went with a Type N mortar. This was available as a bagged pre-mix from Lowe's, but I did have to add the sand (mortar mix to sand was 1:3).
For your reading/viewing pleasure on repointing:
Mack, Robert C., and John P. Speweik
1998 Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings. National Park Service Preservation Brief 2. U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/briefs/brief02.htm.
[In case you're not familiar with these, the National Park Service has a series of preservation briefs on all topics from energy efficiency and HVAC systems to slate roofs and interior paint - good stuff! Here's the whole list of NPS briefs.]
2010 Repointing Brick. This Old House. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,232787,00.html?comment_page=1&comment_sort=ASC#toh-comments.
And a video tutorial by Tom Silva from This Old House (season 5, episode 24).
Masonry is something I've always wanted to try, so I enjoyed doing the repointing. BUT there are several more brick piers to repoint in the tight, dark crawlspace - so ask me later if I enjoyed repointing those, haha! In other news, it was a pretty productive weekend. We finally got around to installing our new post and mailbox - it was our Valentine's Day present to each other :) Our plumber came to cap off the old kitchen sink vent pipe, and Steven patched the roof from the vent hole. However, a pretty awful discovery was made [@#$% ^&*!!!] as we were preparing to install floor joists in the recently enclosed former porch: the floor spanning the future kitchen/dining area is not level, not even close! The exterior wall we just added is level with what's on either side of it, so we're guessing this unlevel-ness happened from settling and additions to the house over time. We have a plan for installing the French door on the new wall, and we're making progress with installing the new joists.
If you've dealt with uneven floors across the span of a whole house, we'll take some good advice!