Oh the joys of owning a brick house! You might remember my post about our failing porch columns. Here’s where things stand as of today.
:: Broken and Busted
The entire column above has to be rebuilt. Fortunately the brick can be reused, for the most part. What can’t be reused will be replaced with bricks I found in the backyard when I was working on the planting beds. Ages ago, someone laid a row of brick for an old bed, and it was buried a few inches deep. When the contractor and I dug them out of the ground, we realized the matched the brick on the house. I’m glad they were there because matching this brick wasn’t going to be an easy task.
:: Ground Down
The column above has had its old mortar ground away. At some point, these columns were also “repointed” with a variety of materials, including caulk, glue and cement. For those who are attempting their own DIY masonry repairs: Please don’t use cement in place of mortar. It’s too hard for that application, and it’s extremely difficult to grind out of joints. And obviously don’t use caulk or glue. Mortar is the only material that should be used in brick masonry.
:: At the Ready
The stack on the right above shows the old bricks that were dug up from the backyard. The bricks on the left are from a building materials salvage yard here in town. A few of the new bricks might have to be used in inconspicuous places if we don’t have enough of the old ones.
:: Just like Frosting a Cake
This column above has had all its mortar and cement ground out. The top shows the freshly piped-in mortar and the bottom shows what it looks like after raking. We went with raked joints to match the rest of the home and preserve it in a historically accurate manner.
I have a thing for toolkits of all kinds. I’ve never before seen a mason’s toolkit up close.
:: More Tools
From the progress so far, I’d say this project will be completed in just a few more days. That’s when my husband and I will take over and grind the failing paint off the porch, then plant new foundation plants that accentuate the home’s lovely new brickwork.
We talked with several contractors about completing this work. I advise anyone in the same situation to interview a number of contractors and choose wisely. In our case, we wanted someone who was quick and responsive, clearly knew what they were doing, had experience working with older homes, and had a desire to preserve the home rather than modify it in ways that would undercut its historic value.
My next post on this topic will, I hope, be the “after” photo of the completed work.