What Exactly is Messy Mortar ...

Monday, March 2, 2015

If you have been following along to the Hubs & I's house construction, you know that there was a bit of controversy with the bricks.  Theoretically, it was probably our lack of knowledge of the entire subject that led us to our dissatisfaction.  Looking back, I should have done more research, but then again, I didn't know there were different ways to mortar brick.  I just knew what I liked :)  So scientific of me don't you think?!
When I would thumb through magazines or look at exterior brick photos on Pinterest, all the houses seemed to have the same "look" to them.  Each of the exteriors used a "messy mortar" application. This type of mason style was used back in the early 30's, maybe even before, and mostly when the brick wasn't going to be seen from the outside of the home.  You see this look a lot when exposing brick during a renovation, and realizing that the mason just didn't "clean up" his work.  BUT, because of the old feel of the brick, this method has become more and more popular, especially with new builds.
The Hubs and I had chosen our brick based on another home in the neighborhood we feel in love with.  To us, that was the end of it.  The brick arrived on site and I kept telling him - "It looks so much darker than the brick we selected."  We finally were able to meet with our builder and much to our surprise, this was the same brick, however they used the messy mortar style application.  Since the brick was half way done, the brickmason did have to go back over some of his work, but eventually, the home was complete with the style.  I have to say, I am in love with how it turned out.  Who knew there was more to the story?!  To me, it gives the house a bit of character compared to those who's houses lacked additional mortar - totally personal preference.  Let me show you in photos ...
Home with Messy Mortar:
Home without Messy Mortar [Acid Washed] with same brick as above:
See the difference?
Most masonries use an acid wash over the brick after completion.  This basically takes off additional mortar, giving the brick a more clean look.   Messy Mortar is where the brick mason not only uses a white wash application but then spears on additional mortar giving it a whiter appearance all together.  There is also another form of mortar that requires the same amount of skill called, Weeping Mortar.  The beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  This particular technique was used a lot with Tudor style homes.  I personally do not like this type of brickwork.  To me, it looks unfinished and "sloppy," for lack of a better term, BUT, it's widely used.  Some people probably think messy mortar looks old and incomplete as well.
Home with Weeping Mortar:

Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is for sure.  Before you build a brick house or before you do any projects that require brick to your existing home, do your research and know what you like.  Our brick would have looked 100% different if we had chosen to do an acid wash, or even a white wash on the house.  What a difference a little mortar can do!
Here are some of my favorite Messy Mortar Houses ...
smeared mortar front of house
smeared mortar partial
white colonial style homes | Mortar washed houses, brick smeared with mortar, or soft lime washed ...
What do you think?  Love it or hate it?!

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Abby Scorsonelli said...

I love it! It's what I want to do with our build too. According to our contractor there are three ways to do it. One is to essentially not wipe up, another to splatter on EXTRA mortar and smear it around, and the third I didn't catch. It's such a cool look!

Anonymous said...

Would you mind telling the me the name of your brick. I love it. We are building and are looking for a brick just like yours.

Thank you


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Anonymous said...

I personally like the look, but weeping mortar is jokingly called wicking mortar. Mortar is usually recessed to reduce infiltration of water. Weeping mortar does just the opposite. If you were to have a brick house built with weeping or a similar mortar look it might be a good idea to treat the wall with siloxane.

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