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