Mortar, Tiles and Vinyl Siding and Cedar Shingle Problem-Solver


TOOLS AND MATERIALS: Gloves, joint raker, two-pound hammer, chisel, brush, misting spray, pointing trowel, brick jointer, small paintbrush

If old mortar has cracked or deteriorated, get advice from a structural engineer about whether it's a sign of serious structural problems or simply due to age. If age related deterioration is the cause, mortar can be repointed ( shown below) or “stitched” (a technique involving special “stitching rods” and an epoxy resin). If the problem is more serious, follow your engineer’s advice before attempting to tackle it.

A. Use a joint raker to remove any loose, crumbly bits of old mortar until you reach sound material. B. Use a two-pound hammer and chisel to “peck” out the more obstinate, solid chunks of mortar from between the bricks. C. Dust out the old mortar joints to remove all debris.

D. Use a spray to wet the bricks and mortar joints. This stops bricks from soaking up the new mortar and ensures that it will adhere. E. Use a pointing trowel and a brick jointer to press new mortar into place. Use the jointer to mimic the profile of existing mortar joints. F. Use a dry brush to remove any excess mortar from the joints.


TOOLS AND MATERIALS: Gloves, masking tape, hacksaw blade or slate ripper, grab adhesive, new tile, heavy-duty tape, caulk gun

Because layers of tiles overlap each other, a new tile can't be nailed into the furring strip below. Instead, use adhesive to secure a new tile. If you need to replace several tiles, you will be able to nail all but the last one, which will need to be attached using the method shown here. A slate ripper can be used as an alternative to a hacksaw blade. This technique can also be used to repair tiles on roofs.

A. Wrap some masking tape or similar tape around one end of a hacksaw blade to enable you to hold the blade without injury. B. Holding the wrapped end, slide the saw blade under the broken tile and cut through the fasteners that hold the tile in place. C. Slide out the broken tile.

D. Apply all-purpose grab adhesive to the back of a new tile, at the top and bottom, where it will sit on the furring strip and the tile below. E. Slide the new tile into position, ensuring that its top edge lies on the strip and its lower edge rests on top of the tile in the row below. F. Tape the new tile so the surrounding tiles hold it securely in position while the adhesive dries. When it's dry, remove the tape.


Boards are difficult to remove, so aim to repair, not replace, them. If you do have to remove boards, cut through joints, or pry boards out and cut through nails with a hacksaw.

TOOLS AND MATERIALS: Chisel, adhesive, hammer, nails, nail set, patching plaster, paint

A. Pry away the split section of board and remove it. B. Apply a water-resistant wood adhesive along the edges of the removed piece of board. C. Reapply the broken piece to the board it came from, and use nail or screw the repair securely together.


TOOLS AND MATERIALS: Zipper (siding removal tool), pry bar, vinyl siding, hammer

Vinyl siding can chip or dent. The good news is that it's fairly easy to remove and replace. When removing the siding and the nails, remember to use care as you do not want to damage any house wrap underneath.

A. Insert a zipper into the seam between the top damaged panel and the one above it. Pull out slightly so that it's clear of the damaged area. B. Remove the nails from the damaged boards. Then, remove the damaged panels. C. Starting at the bottom, fasten new boards in place.


TOOLS AND MATERIALS: Nail set, hammer, hacksaw blade, cedar shingle, block plane

Cedar shingles can crack or split due to weathering or a direct impact. They can curl or bow over time, too. It is best to replace damaged or bowed shingles instead of attempting to repair the shingle in place. For more information about cedar shingles and shakes visit the Cedar Shake and Shingle Bureau at

A. Identify the damaged section of shingle you want to replace. B. Remove the shingle by using a nail set to drive the finish nail through the shingle. C. Another option to remove the shingle is to use a hacksaw to cut the nail underneath the shingle.

D. Carefully remove the damaged shingle from the wall. E. Cut the new shingle to size and plane any excess material. F. Install the new shingle and nail in place.

Thursday, February 27, 2020 12:10 PST