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Pointing Techniques & Practices

There are many different types of joints used in the repointing of brickwork and stonework from the better known joints such as 'tuck', 'flush' and 'penny struck' to the more obscure 'wigging', 'beaded', 'double struck' and 'bastard tuck' joints. Below are descriptions of some of these different joints.

Irish Wigging

Of all the pointing techniques carried out in Ireland this is the most difficult to execute and requires great skill. Examples of this style of pointing still survive on some period buildings and although it has not been commonly practiced for forty or fifty years a revival of this particular style of pointing would be both desirable and welcome.

Similar to 'English Tuck' pointing it is used as a deception on irregular brickwork to give the impression of gauged brickwork. It consists of a raised white centre joint, approximately 3mm in width with a red (or brick) coloured mortar trowelled in either side of the raised joint. The red mortar is trowelled in from the edge of the raised joint to the edge of the brick giving the impression that each individual brick is perfectly square. There is a misconception that the red or brick colour either side of the white joint was simply painted in. While this method was sometimes used (for example the restored ESB buildings on Mount Street) it is not true 'Irish Wigging' and does not require the same level of skill. (It is sometimes referred to as 'bastard tuck')

All of the 'traditional' pointing currently being carried out in the Dublin, with a finished thin, white raised joint, (save for possibly a handful of examples) is 'English Tuck' pointing and not 'Irish Wigging'.

English Tuck

This style of pointing was re-introduced to Ireland in the past number of decades by craftsmen from English Heritage asked to work on Irish restoration projects. There is some debate as to whether historically this joint pre-dates the surviving examples of Irish Wigging.

It is similar in appearance to 'Irish wigging' but employs a different method to arrive at the finished joint. A red (or brick) coloured mortar (the 'stopping' mortar) is trowelled into the raked out joint and finished flush with the face of the brickwork. Then a thin white, or cream, coloured mortar joint is 'tucked' into this stopping mortar and trimmed to a uniform size of approximately 3mm in width, again giving the impression of regular or gauged brickwork.

Flush Joint

This is mostly used and still visible on the regular or gauged brickwork of the Victorian or Edwardian eras. It is the measure of a good pointer if he can execute a flush joint without unnecessarily marking the brick. Unfortunately, in some instances where a flush joint is the appropriate period joint, some pointers, in an effort to mask poor trowel skills, or through a lack of knowledge resort to using incorrect or inappropriate pointing techniques.

This is not to be confused with the so called 'flush and brush joint'.

Cut & Struck Joint

This joint became popular in the twentieth century on irregular brickwork with the decline of the more skilled and time consuming traditional joints such as 'Irish Wigging'. Now much maligned by traditionalists because of its sometimes heavy-handed technique and also because of the fact that it was associated with the use of increasingly dense sand/cement mortars it was at least, however, an attempt to 'square' the brickwork by cutting the joint. If pointed and cut within the joint and appropriately coloured it can be quite subdued and aesthetically pleasing, even if not historically correct. With the use of the correct materials it is far more preferable and skilled than the modern day 'flush and brush' joint.

Many of the techniques referred to above were used by the traditional pointer to enhance the appearance of what may, in many instances, have been poor quality brickwork facades. What is obvious from the extant examples of traditional pointing is that great care and skill was used in the application of these techniques, qualities that are sadly sometimes lacking in today's practices.

The comments above are solely the opinions of Bacon Restorations Limited. They refer, in the main, to the restoration of brickwork facades and are based on our observations of some of the current practices and our own experience and knowledge of the trade.

Our Associations

Bacon Restoration Associate with Construction Industry FederationBacon Restoration Associate with The Building Limes ForumBacon Restoration Associate with Heritage Contractors