Mortar Testing

“Wrong Mortar Can Do More Harm than Good”

Testing mortar on your building can be pretty technical. Your first step is to find a mortar testing company near you. A simple Google search will provide you with one or two. It’s always a good idea to give them a call and go over how they prefer to receive the samples.

Why do we want to test the mortar? In short, we simply want the mortar to be softer than the brick. Both the brick and mortar absorb moisture. We want them to absorb and dry out at a rate conducive for each other. Mortar that is too hard will pop the face of the brick off as it freezes and thaws. Too soft of a mortar, and we won’t properly protect the masonry system. Modern chemicals in the mortar also cause brick issues.

Here are easy, step by step instructions to follow as you collect your mortar sample:

Take a look at your building and determine what areas appear to be original vs previously tuckpointed. There may be more than one area that you need samples from. Take a sample at differing brick along the façade that you intend to tuck point.

Take a photo of the entire façade. You will print this photo out and draw a circle around the area in which you took the sample(s). The testing company may want to know the location.

A simple sandwich zip lock bag is adequate for the sample.

If you need a ladder, climb up with a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer. Gently remove the mortar from a horizontal joint directly into the bag. Try not to handle the mortar.

The goal is to achieve a large intact sample. A size half of your pinky finger is a good sample. Leave any powdered samples in the bag.

I like to clearly label the bag with a sharpie. Write the address, date, and approximate location taken.

When shipping to the testing company, think about what it takes to keep the solid sample(s) intact.