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Dr Gerard Lynch - ‘The Red Mason’

Office: 10 Blackthorn Grove, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes MK17 8PZ - Tel: 01908 584163

Dr Gerard Lynch The Red Mason

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Tuck Pointing - The Grand Illusion - Historical Overview and PracticesPhoto G C J Lynch - Tuck Pointing d 1905, at Ravensdale Mansions, London

Tuck Pointing - The Grand Illusion


Tuck pointing is a highly-skilled and refined method of pointing, or re-pointing, brickwork whereby a coloured mortar joint is placed to match the brick and grooved while 'green' or fresh, to receive a separate, and carefully placed, lime putty: silver sand ribbon. The ribbon is then neatly trimmed to a smaller scale to form a precise, raised, profile. Its historical intention was originally to create the illusion of accurately laid, cut and rubbed and gauged brickwork, on a standard brickwork façade; constructed of, often-irregular, bricks. In the nineteenth century, however, it was often resorted to as a means to disguise inferior brickwork.

Generally until the nineteenth century the projecting ribbon was of a neutral, white or cream-coloured mortar, but subsequently a fashion for coloured ribbons, especially black, though occasionally red and sometimes brown were also used.

Today tuck pointing is rarely employed on newly constructed brickwork being, reserved mainly for re-pointing old brickwork known to have had tuck pointing as the original, or earlier, joint finish.

Historical Background

Tuck pointing in England probably evolved from continental influence during the late 17th century, where it is to be seen in the Netherlands, Flanders and parts of France; such as Normandy.  It was certainly well established by the early 18th century, being then referred to in Batty Langley's d.1745 price book for London builders; and then referred to as 'Tuck and Pat' work. It was reserved for use on premier facades, or 'showfaces', of properties, the majority of which were also given a 'colour wash', consisting of an ochre, dissolved in water containing a fixative, or mordant, in order to unify varying tones of handmade bricks. Tuck pointing was sometimes executed only on architectural dressings such as 'axed' arches or 'block bonded' quoins, etc, to create the appearance of gauged work. Like so many native craft skills and techniques tuck pointing travelled to the then British colonies across the world such as Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, as well as parts of the United States of America too. In the United States, however, the term 'tuck pointing' came to be used primarily for any raised profiles such as a 'beaded' or 'v' shaped profiles, effected by using appropriately shaped jointing tools, on neutral or pigmented mortars; but now in many areas the term encompasses all forms of re-pointing.

Tuck Pointing