This is an alphabetical listing of terms commonly used in masonry restoration. Click on the term for pictures illustrating the term referenced.

Brick (or Stone) Patching
Coloring, approximately the color of the spalled material, is mixed with mortar, then applied to the broken surface and smoothed so that the brick or stone appears undamaged. Although this is the least expensive way to repair spalling surfaces it does pose certain problems in that the patch will not last as long as a replacement brick or stone would have, and it is difficult to get an exact color match. Also, upon close inspection, the patch can be detected.

Brick (or Stone) Replacement
The process of cutting out a damaged brick or stone and replacing it with an undamaged one. Although this is a more durable solution than patching, it is also more expensive and can be troublesome in older buildings which have brick types and/or sizes no longer available.

Chemical Cleaning
The least abrasive process for cleaning masonry and/or stripping paint from masonry (or other surfaces). Chemicals specific to the desired result are applied to the masonry and then rinsed with pressurized water. A skilled restorer will take care to apply the correct amount of pressure so that the masonry will be cleaned as thoroughly as possible but the masonry itself will not damaged.

An exterior structure that houses a vent. Traditionally, this structure was always brick or stone; however, in recent years, chimneys have been made of stucco covered block and even wood. Chimneys are most commonly used to house the flues which vent the building’s furnace, hot water heater, and/or fireplace.

Chimney Liner
Originally, a chimney is lined with clay flue tiles. Over time, these tiles can crack and even break. The remedy is a long metal insert used to line damaged flue tiles so that sparks, smoke or moisture cannot escape the enclosure. Flexible liners are used to vent hot water heaters and/or furnaces so that moisture will not seep into the chimney’s masonry. Stainless steel liners (either flexible or rigid) are used to line flues venting fireplaces and are vital to the safety of the building and its occupants since both smoke and sparks can escape into the building through damaged flue tiles.

Chimney Sweeping
The process of cleaning the flue tiles of a chimney by inserting brushes. Regular sweeping is critical to the safety and proper functioning of a fireplace.

A building material made by mixing a cementing material and a mineral aggregate with sufficient water to cause the cement to set and bond the entire mass. Concrete is most often used in the construction of sidewalks and driveways.

The area at the top of the chimney that “crowns” the chimney. Typically, the crown is made of cement.

A movable metal plate in the flue, usually just above the firebox. This plate can be opened, allowing heat and smoke to escape while a fire is burning in the fireplace; it can also be closed to prevent outside air from flowing freely into the building when the fireplace is not being used for a fire.

The area of a fireplace in which the actual fire burns. This area is surrounded with materials that can withstand the high temperatures associated with a blazing fire. This area must be well maintained and any repairs must be done with strict adherence to safety standards in order to avoid fire hazard.

Sheet metal used to waterproof the angle between the chimney and the roof.

An enclosed passageway used to vent moisture, heat and/or fumes to the outside of a building. Flues are housed by a chimney and are generally made of clay tiles stacked one upon the other, each being slightly narrower than the one beneath it. They are most commonly used to vent fireplaces, furnaces and hot water heaters.

Lock-top Damper
A movable plate at the top of the chimney. This type of damper performs the same function as a regular damper, but is usually added to an existing building to replace a faulty or non-functioning original damper.

Stones and/or bricks laid on top and beside each other with mortar in between.

A somewhat variable mixture of cement, lime, water and sand which is used to secure the brick and stone used in masonry construction.

Power Washing
Spraying pressurized water in order to clean a surface. An experienced power washer will vary both the water pressure and the size of the spray nozzle to achieve the correct combination of pressure and concentration so as to clean thoroughly without damaging the surface.

Rain Cap
A metal structure fabricated to fit on top of the chimney providing a roof of sorts for the chimney. Rain caps are installed both to prevent animals from entering the house through the chimney as well as to protect the chimney from moisture.

A process in which an air compressor is used to pressurize the application of sand for the purpose of removing built up dirt and/or paint from masonry and other surfaces. Sandblasting can be quite destructive if done incorrectly because the pressurized sand can actually dig into the surface of the masonry. For this reason, it is often banned in historical districts. Though sandblasting does indeed remove a minute surface of the brick, if properly done, it is an efficient way to clean masonry with minimal damage to the brick. It is also usually lower in cost than chemical cleaning.

A condition of chipping or breaking that has occurred. Bricks and stones (but more commonly bricks) can chip and break over time. The cause is typically a combination of moisture and temperature change. The materials absorb moisture which expands when it freezes and then contracts when it thaws. Over time, this movement damages the mortar and can also cause the bricks or stones to chip (or spall).

The process whereby disintegrating or missing mortar between bricks or stones is replaced with fresh mortar. Tuckpointing can be utilized to varying degrees:

Spot Tuckpointing
Tuckpointing in which only the missing mortar is replaced. A well written contract should specify a standard which will dictate exactly which joints will be replaced. For example: Fill obvious mortar voids and deep joints recessed at least ½”. This description clearly indicates that recesses less than ½” will not be tuckpointed. This is the least expensive way to repair disintegrating joints, however can pose problems in that it can be difficult to match the existing mortar.

Solid Tuckpointing
Process in which all existing mortar is removed and then every joint is filled with new mortar. This process is more involved than spot tuckpointing and, therefore, more expensive; however it yields a beautiful result.

A commonly abbreviated reference to tuckpointing.

Waterproofing (above grade)
Encouraging water to bead up and roll off a surface by spraying it with a thorough coat of a quality sealant.

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