The terms “repointing” and “tuckpointing” are often used interchangeably. A simple Google search will substantiate that there is much confusion as many established brick and masonry institutions will provide different definitions for the same term. A consensus of reputable organizations suggests the following definitions:
Pointing: The initial process of placing mortar between brickwork in order to provide strength and a protective water-tight barrier.
Repointing: A secondary process of repairing old mortar by removing the deteriorating parts and replacing it with a new mixture of the same appearance, texture, and plasticity.
Tuckpointing: A secondary process of repairing old mortar by removing the deteriorating parts and replacing it with a new mixture of the same appearance, texture, and plasticity. A subtle difference between Repointing and Tuckpointing involves the methods of removing the old mortar. Tuckpointing normally entails the use of aggressive means, such as the use of a diamond tipped grinder, in order to remove as much of the old mortar as possible. It should be noted that the original term included the use of dyes to match the color of the bricks and give the appearance that the bricks and mortar had sharp line and had been recently installed. In most geographical locations, especially in the United States, the term tuckpointing is not confined to that narrow definition.