Overtime, joints between masonry units in a house may be voided by weathering leading to cracks all across your walls and chimney. These cracks do not only compromise your property's lifespan but also its curb appeal and value, all which can be restored by tuckpointing. According to the National Association of Realtors, residences with high curb appeals sell for 7 percent more than similar homes with an uninviting exterior. This premium may double in slower real estate markets.
While tuckpointing helps preserve the integrity and value of your structure, it is associated with certain hazards involving exposure to crystalline silica in concentrations that are 100 times more than the recommended exposure limit. The inhalation of crystalline silica leads to silicosis, an incurable lung disease that contributed to more than 2,000 deaths between 1999 and 2013.
Given its high-risk potential, tuckpointing should always be left to professional tuckpointers or masons nearby trained to complete these types of jobs in line with the national occupational safety and health standards and industry codes. Before employing the services of a tuckpointing contractor near you, you should consider asking the following questions:
Are You a Licensed Tuckpointing Contractor?
Tuckpointing is an important maintenance usually executed by masons who are required to be licensed in 31 states in the US. For other states like New York, Missouri, Illinois, and Kansas masonry licenses are issued at the county, city, town, or municipality level. The requirements for obtaining a masonry license differ by jurisdiction. Therefore, contact your state licensing department or the local consumer protection agency to determine the licensure requirements for your tuckpointing contractor.
Also tuckpointers near you may hold some advanced masonry certification as a proof of skill. Before you conclude on the contract, ensure you see a copy of your tuckpointing contractor's license or certificate. You may contact the licensing body or certifying agency to verify the status of tuckpointer.
Are You a Bonded and Insured Tuckpointing Contractor?
Regardless of the number of preventive measures taken, there is always the possibility of a workplace injury occurring during a project. It is estimated that 20% of the private industry work-related fatalities reported in 2019 were recorded by the construction industry. In the same year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 14 fatal occupational injuries and 720 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses amongst brick, block, and stonemasons. As such, it is important to make sure that any tuckpointing contractor near you you hire is properly bonded and insured.
Bonding and insurance mitigate your financial liabilities if a workplace injury occurs or if your tuckpointing contractor defaults on the project for any reason. Always make sure that your tuckpointing contractor is bonded and insured in line with any requirements that your area of residence has. In many cases, this usually involves the contractor being bonded to the tune of at least $2,000 and having general liability and workers' compensation insurance coverage. However, it is advisable that you contact your local consumer protection office to find out the specific bonding and insurance requirements for contractors in your area.
What Kind of Work Are You Specialized In?
The terms tuckpointing and repointing are sometimes used synonymously in masonry. Both of them refer to the process of removing old and deteriorating mortar from mortar joints and replacing it with fresh mortar. However, tuckpointing goes one step further by using contrasting colors in the mortar joints to create a crisper visual illusion.
Five types of mortar are used for masonry and they are all made of sand, cement, and lime. The ratio of these ingredients that are mixed together to create the mortar varies, and this is what determines the mortar's performance characteristics:
- Type M mortar â€“ this type of mortar is mixed with a high ratio of cement and it can hold up to 2,500 pounds per square inch. Type M mortar is typically used for below-grade projects like load-bearing walls, foundation reinforcements, driveways, and other heavy load projects that involve structural support. However, it has low bonding abilities and poor adhesion and sealing properties. This makes it unsuitable for a lot of tuckpointing projects
- Type N mortar â€“ type N mortar has good compressive strength, is highly flexible, and can hold up to 750 pounds per inch. This type of mortar mix is typically used for exterior and above-grade projects because of its ability to handle severe weather and high heat conditions. Type N mortar is the most commonly used type of mortar for tuckpointing
- Type S mortar â€“ this mortar has less sand and cement than type M mortar, which makes it more flexible. It can hold up to 1,800 pounds per square inch and it can withstand soil pressure and large loads. Type S mortar typically used for below-grade projects like laying foundations, retaining walls, sewers, and also for above-grade projects like walkways and brick patios
- Type O mortar â€“ this type of mortar has low compressive strength and can only hold up to 350 pounds per inch. It is typically used for interior, above grade, non-load-bearing structures due to its low structural capacity
- Type K mortar â€“ type K mortar has a very low compressive strength, can only hold about 75 pounds per inch, and is rarely used for new construction. This type of mortar is mainly used on softer bricks inside homes or for restoring masonry in ancient or historic buildings
Always find out whether your tuckpointing contractor is experienced enough to not only know the type of mortar mix that will be required for your project, but to also properly create this mix if necessary.
Who Will Do the Work?
You should always make sure that any contractor near you you hire duly informs you of the number of workers that will be required for the job before beginning any work. Some tuckpointing contractors work with apprentices, and some even subcontract jobs out to other contractors. Find out whether this would be the case in your project and if it would affect your bill in any way. If any apprentices or subcontractors are to be involved in your tuckpointing job, make sure that these individuals are properly licensed, bonded, and insured.
Do You Offer a Warranty?
After you purchase a product or pay for a service, it is generally expected that you will be offered a warranty, whether implied, oral, or written. This warranty is a guarantee that the product or service you paid for is of the best quality available. Highly proficient tuckpointing contractors near you would not hesitate to offer their clients a workmanship warranty that assures of a properly done job. This warranty is usually valid for a specified timeframe and it covers any defects in the tuckpointing contractor's workmanship that may be discovered during this period. Considering that warranties typically come with strict conditions that have to be followed, it is always a good idea to request a written warranty from your tuckpointing contractor. This way, you reduce the chances of voiding the warranty's conditions.
Will This Job Require a Permit?
Before undertaking certain home improvement construction, renovation, or remodeling projects, you are expected to obtain a permit from an appropriate local government agency. The specific types of projects that require permits are location-dependent. For example, the Cities of Chicago, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota require permits for tuckpointing. On the other hand, the Cities of St. Louis and Normandy, both in Missouri, do not require a permit for tuckpointing.
It is always a good idea to find out whether or not you will need a permit for undertaking a tuckpointing project in your area of residence. You can do this by contacting the local building department office near you. Professional tuckpointing contractors generally know the permit requirements of their localities and hiring one can help you speedily obtain these permits where necessary.
Will You Provide References?
Asking for references is a good way to separate professional tuckpointing contractors from unprofessional ones near you. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that you only hire contractors that can provide you with three or more verifiable references. Contact these individuals and get their opinions on the tuckpointing contractor that you intend to hire. You can also get opinions and reviews on a tuckpointing contractor that you intend to hire by utilizing the services of a third-party review website like Better Business Bureau and Yelp.
Do You Have a Business License?
According to the United States Small Business Administration, there are currently about 30.7 small businesses in the country. These businesses are typically required to obtain a business license before they can legally operate in an area.
Always hire a tuckpointing contractor that has a valid business license. This means that the tuckpointing contractor either owns or works for a contracting company that has been authorized to conduct business in your area of residence. Also, tuckpointing contractors that are properly licensed are generally more professionally behaved than unlicensed tuckpointing contractors. You can authenticate your tuckpointing contractor's business license by contacting your local Secretary of State's office.Â
What Are Common Tuckpointing Problems?
The most common problem associated with tuckpointing is using the wrong type of mortar. Another common mistake is commencing the tuckpointing without checking for any other problems or underlying cause of the damaged mortar that requires replacing. These mistakes typically occur when you hire an unprofessional tuckpointing contractor or attempt to do the job yourself. To avoid them, you should always employ the services of a professional tuckpointing contractor near you to attend to any tuckpointing issues that you have.
How Much Does Tuckpointing Cost?
The average cost of tuckpointing in the United States is $5 â€“ $25 per square foot. This cost is mostly affected by the size of the area that requires tuckpointing, its location, and the amount of labor required for the job. Listed below are the estimated costs for the types of mortars used for tuckpointing:
What Are the Factors That Affect the Cost of Tuckpointing?
The cost of tuckpointing mostly depends on the amount of labor required for the job. Many tuckpointing contractors charge more for areas that are hard to reach or for areas that exceed a certain height. In most cases, this height is 8 feet. For example, tuckpointing a chimney will cost you more than tuckpointing a brick patio. Also, even though tuckpointing generally costs an average fee of $5 - $25 per square foot, some tuckpointing contractors may charge a minimum call-out fee, regardless of the size of the area that requires tuckpointing. This fee is usually $50 - $100 per hour.
What Qualifications Should Tuckpointing Contractors Have?
There are currently more than 60,600 employed masonry-related workers in the United States. This group of workers, which includes tuckpointing contractors, typically learn their trade through apprenticeships and employer-provided training programs. Tuckpointing contractors are generally required to be no younger than 18 years old and have a high school certificate or its equivalent at least. Some tuckpointing contractors also have professional certifications that were issued by trade associations like the International Masonry Institute and the Mason Contractors Association of America.
Do You Need a Handyman or a Tuckpointing Contractor?
Any handyman near you does not have the necessary training and experience to determine the type of mortar that is best suited to your home, or to properly inspect and detect any serious underlying masonry problems. This lack of experience usually results in the handyman using a type of mortar that does not hold well, and this will inevitably require the attention of a professional tuckpointing contractor. Improper tuckpointing can also adversely affect the structure of your home. Therefore, you should always hire a tuckpointing contractor that is properly trained, qualified, and licensed to carry out any tuckpointing project that you have. Doing this saves you time and money in the long run.
What Are the Common Post Tuckpointing Expenses?
Although tuckpointing is mainly carried out for repair and maintenance purposes, you may wish to perform certain enhancement or decorative actions after your tuckpointing project is concluded. For example, you may wish to waterproof the mortar joints of the area that was tuckpointed. Waterproofing mortar joints prevents water from entering into the wall's cavity and thereby prevents spalling and cracking. Doing this can cost you about $0.40 - $2.50 per square foot. It is a good idea to find out whether your tuckpointing contractor also provides this service.
If the tuckpointing was done on your chimney, then it is advisable to buy a chimney cap if you do not already have one. A chimney cap limits your chimney's exposure to water damage, and it costs an average of $150 - $250.
Does Homeowner Insurance Cover Tuckpointing Expenses?
A standard homeowner's insurance policy does not cover routine maintenance and repair activities. Therefore, if your reason for undertaking a tuckpointing project falls under this category, your insurance company will not cover the expenses. However, if your brickwork or stonework was damaged by an event that is listed as a covered peril in your homeowner's insurance policy, then it will cover the cost of any necessary repairs, including tuckpointing. Note that the specific types of events that are covered by a homeowner's insurance policy and the amount of coverage the policy provides differ by insurance company. As such, you should never purchase an insurance policy without properly understanding its terms and conditions. Perils that are typically covered by a homeowner's insurance policy include fire, lightning, water damage, theft, wind, and hail. It is estimated that these perils were responsible for over 98% of the homeowner's insurance claims filed in 2018.
Can I Use Digital Payment to Pay My Tuckpointing Contractor?
Yes, you can. Many small businesses in the US today, including professional tuckpointing contractors near you accept digital payments. However, it is always a good idea to confirm this with your contractor before initiating any transactions. If you have to make any payments via cash, you should always request a receipt of payment for the transaction from your tuckpointing contractor. This is necessary for record-keeping purposes.