Brickwork problems


If you need help and advice with regard to independent property surveys, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, independent valuations home buyers reports or any other property matters please free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.


Meet the building surveyor at the property

If you are able to get to the property whilst the survey is being carried out the surveyor will be more than happy to talk to you about any concerns and possible problems that you think the property may have together with any alterations and improvements that you may be considering carrying out to the property. We will, of course, be happy to speak to you about the survey report once it has been completed.

Free phone 0800 298 5424


In brickwork mortar gets weathered which starts to allows dampness in. The condition of the mortar, which is the bit between the bricks , is critical to ensure the property does not allow dampness in. Deteriorating mortar should be repointed in an appropriate mortar which by this we mean one to match the mortar that is already there.

Re-Pointing Defined

Re-pointing is carried out where the existing mortar has failed and broken away to stop damp penetration and further deterioration. The mortar should be raked out to approximately 20mm and then replaced with a mortar of a similar type, therefore, stopping damp occurring.

Pointing required to chimney

Repointing required where flashing of rear low level roof meets main building

Pointing required, plant growing out of property

What do the red circles mean?

The red circles are a system that we used within our structural surveys, building surveys and schedules of condition to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is. In addition to this if the photographs do not, we believe, explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches.

Lime Every Time (Cement mortar used instead of Lime)

Original lime pointing which has been pointed over with cement

One of the main issues that we come across in older properties is where they have been incorrectly repointed in a cement mortar effectively smothering the building rather than a lime mortar that would allow it to breathe.

Lime Mortar Defined

A mix used to bed bricks upon; its characteristics being that it flexes and moves with the structure. It was used up to the War years.

Cement Mortar Defined

A sand cement mix used commonly in brick houses from about the First World War onwards and is relatively strong and brittle and therefore does not allow much movement.

Close up of cement repointing – this has smothered the property and stopped it from breathing


When a cement mortar has been used rather than a lime based mortar we would recommend you use lime mortar in any future repairs regardless of what the builders say! Using lime mortar will limit further damage to the brickwork, which is almost impossible to repair successfully. However, we would add that many, if not most, of the properties that are re-pointed are re-pointed wrongly; it is only in recent years that we have discovered the problems that can occur from it.






Types of pointing

You can't just repoint in any fashion. If you proud point we find this tends to cause problems.

Range of different pointing to brickwork

Proud pointing on brickwork on left hand side

Raking pointing on rear of left hand garden wall

Other articles that may be of interest


You may also find the following surveying articles useful;

Lime Mortar
Wall Tie Problems
Cavity Wall Problems
My property has been repointed in cement mortar, what can I do?


Poor quality brickwork

The photographs below were of a newly built property in which the brickwork is below the average standard that we come across with new houses with a varying joint thickness both thicker and thinner than the typical 10mm. Also the perpendicular ends of the brickwork run out and didn't stand on top of each other. This gives an indication of the quality of supervision and the skill of the tradesmen at the property and we would question whether the property was built to a price rather than a quality standard. 

Thick joint

Thin joint


Wasps/bees digging into the sandier mortar

Deteriorating pointing doesn't always relate to it being weathered. It can also result from insect attack such as wasps nesting within the roof space having had access through the sandy mortar.

Large wasps nest

Close up of bees/wasps going into sand


Spalling Brickwork

Spalling occurs to brick or stone when water penetrates the surface and via freezing and thawing starts to cause deterioration to the surface. This in turn allows further water penetration and the surface breaks up further. This ultimately can lead to water damage or structural damage to the area.

Spalling to chimney

Spalling starting to occur to brickwork

Rendered/Painted brickwork

Close up of painted brickwork

We would never recommend that bricks are painted or rendered as bricks need to breathe, both absorbing moisture and dispersing it. With either of these treatments water gets trapped into the wall and can cause dampness.

Older properties need to remain breathable and the materials used on them need to remain breathable. We have mentioned the use of lime mortar externally for repointing. We would also recommend the use of lime plasters and paint to allow the structure to breath internally (known as micro porous paints).


Render removed

The front of the property in the photographs below, which was originally rendered has had the render removed exposing the brickwork and repointed in a cement based mortar. The surface of bricks were sanded or sand blasted and have been damaged when the render was taken off, which means they will deteriorate more quickly

Brickwork to front was previously rendered

Surface of bricks sanded or sand blasted

Why have an independent building survey?

Always have an independent building survey as this will highlight any property problems. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

Remember the building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor we can provide advice on valuations, mortgages, mortgage companies, surveys, building surveys, structural reports/engineers reports/specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters .

We are more than happy to meet you at the property whilst carrying out the survey to discuss any specific issues you may have or have a general chat about what we have found at the end of the survey. Please contact us on free phone 0800 298 5424 to speak to a surveyor.


The Good, Bad and Ugly survey

Our good, bad and ugly survey is a building survey which is sometimes known as a structural survey which our surveyors have developed over many years, in fact several decades. We have listened to feedback from our clients and amended and altered our surveys to make them easy to read and describe issues clearly. The key factor we believe is our surveys are easy to understand in plain English but do not take our word for it call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and ask for an example of one of our surveys to be emailed to you.


Compare our Building Surveys but don't compare Apples with Thursdays

If you require a Building Survey or a Structural Survey on a home, house or commercial property we believe as Building Surveyors we have a wealth of experience and expertise that we can utilise to help you.

We are more than happy to send you examples of our Surveys that we have carried out on similar properties to yours and pretty much have always carried out a survey on similar property to the one that you are looking at although we do appreciate that all properties are unique.

We really believe that you should see what you are getting in the form of an example Survey before you purchase a property. What is more is that we are so confident with our higher than average standards that we believe that there is no other comparable survey available in the UK property and surveying market.


Commercial Property

If you have a commercial property, whether it is freehold or leasehold then sooner or later you may get involved with dilapidation claims. You may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .


Surveying articles

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the website are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.


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