Brick and stone make beautiful home siding, walls, fences, and fireplaces. Preventive maintenance and minor masonry repairs will keep masonry looking good for years. This Fix-It Guide on masonry repair tells how masonry works, what often goes wrong, how to identify a masonry problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to replace brick and mortar and how to repair stucco.
How Does Masonry Work?
Masonry is brick, stone, and stucco that is often used as siding that is attached with an adhesive mortar or grout. For information about wood, vinyl or aluminum siding, see the Exterior Siding Fix-It Guide. Many fireplaces, chimneys, fences, barbecues, walls, and other items are also made of masonry.
What Can Go Wrong with Masonry?
Mortar can crack and chip away. Bricks can erode. Stucco can crack and chip away.
You can freshen the appearance of most masonry surfaces with a simple pressure washing. However, be careful not to remove mortar or other bonding.
How Can I Identify a Masonry Problem?
- If mortar or brick have deteriorated, you can replace them (see below).
- If stucco has cracked or fallen away, you can patch the area (see below).
What Do I Need for Masonry Repair?
The materials you’ll need for fixing masonry siding are available at building material suppliers and larger home centers. The tools you will need to fix masonry siding include:
- Cold chisel
- Mason’s hammer
- Mixing trough
- Safety goggles
- Wire brush
- Work gloves
- Mortar mix
- Straightedge board
- Wire mesh
- Galvanized nails
What Are the Steps to Masonry Repair?
When chipping away at brick or mortar with a chisel, make sure you wear safety glasses. Safety gloves are also a good idea to protect your fingernails.
Replace brick and mortar:
- Chip away at the damaged brick and the surrounding mortar with a cold chisel and mason’s hammer.
- Remove all mortar so that the new brick and mortar will fit easily.
- Coat the replacement brick with mortar on the edges adjacent to other bricks, then install the brick.
- Use a trowel to force additional mortar into the joints.
- Use the trowel to remove excess mortar.
- Remove loose material with a cold chisel and mason’s hammer.
- Inspect the underlying wire mesh. If it is damaged or missing, install a new piece on the wall with galvanized nails.
- Prepare the stucco patch following the manufacturer’s directions.
- Fill the hole with stucco patch in layers until it is overflowing.
- Use a straightedge to remove excess stucco so the surface is level.
- Allow the stucco patch to dry before priming and painting.
If your home has an exterior surface of synthetic stucco (exterior finish and insulation system, or EFIS), make sure you use the appropriate patch material. Ask your local home center. EFIS systems are especially susceptible to moisture damage and should be inspected for cracks at least once a year, and repaired as needed.