Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Explore frequently used industry terms and definitions.

Tuck Pointing

The most common reason for tuck pointing is to prevent water penetration through de-bonded, cracked or deteriorated mortar joints. The average mortar joint can last up to 20 years.  Brick, on the other hand, can last for over 100 years, resulting in the necessary occasional repair of the mortar joints. Certain levels of exposure to weather and other exterior elements may require more or less frequent repairs.  Conditions such as freezing and thawing, wind, and rain can erode mortar joints. Frequent wetting is the most common reason for deteriorated mortar.

Brick Replacement

Unlike newer brick, older or “common” brick have less compressive strength and are more permeable to water/moisture.  These conditions can lead to an eroded/deteriorated brick that needs to be replaced in order to maintain the integrity of the wall.

Stone Repair / Replacement

Stone repair is typically required due to excessive water/moisture exposure, poor or inadequate maintenance, and or natural decay. Conditions such as spalling or flaking can be repaired without having to replace the stone.  However, if previous repairs have been made with inappropriate materials it may be necessary to perform a complete replacement.

Terra Cotta Repair / Replacement

Damaged or deteriorated Terra Cotta can allow water to penetrate the substrate.  At one time the only available option to working with damaged terra cotta was a full replacement. Today, with the advent of breathable patching materials it is possible to fully restore terra cotta’s finish and integrity without replacement.

Granite Repair / Replacement

See above

Lintel Repair

Typically associated with a moisture problem, a deteriorated lintel can be scraped primed and painted or replaced all together.

Epoxy Injection

Cracks in concrete allow moisture, air, chemicals, etc to penetrate the surface and attack the reinforcing bars weakening the structural value. Epoxy injections weld and seal concrete, restoring the structural integrity and eliminating the possibility for moisture intrusion.

Concrete Restoration

Using power cleaning techniques the look of the concrete can be restored to look like new. Concrete sealants can be applied to protect from staining, moisture, cracking, pitting and other weather damage.

Balcony Repairs

Concrete balconies are exposed to weather and elements which begin the corrosion process.  Once spalls and cracks begin to appear, rapid deterioration can follow. Safely repairing the deteriorated concrete while not disturbing the tenants is a top priority.

Structural Repairs

If the concrete is damaged or cracked, the necessary repairs need to be made to those areas first. Repairing cracks, spalls and the underlying reinforcing bars to restore the structural integrity of the concrete.

Concrete coatings

Concrete coatings are another method of repairing concrete without replacement.  Concrete coatings not only repair the appearance of the damaged concrete, but also can improve its durability.

Restoration Cleaning

Restoration cleaning is preferred to sandblasting to clean older or historic masonry surfaces.

Chemical Cleaning

Chemical cleaning of masonry is typically used to stop the deterioration of the material or to remove heavy soiling. The build up of moisture in a masonry surface can cause efflorescence, the white crystalline/mineral deposits that appear on masonry as a white powder.  Chemical cleaning can be used to remove the efflorescence.  Once removed, the source of the moisture must be located and repaired. It is necessary to evaluate the existing conditions in order to determine which cleaning method to use.  High or low pressure cleaning can be used depending on the material and its condition.

High/Low Pressure Cleaning

A proven method for removing dirt, carbon staining, paint oxidation and other pollutants on masonry surfaces.

Paint Removal

The best possible option for removing paint from a masonry surface is a chemical solvent.  Sandblasting or hand scraping will remove the paint but also destroy the finish of the brick. Gel type solvents are useful on vertical surfaces because they are thicker and don’t spill as easily. Masonry is very porous and more susceptible to permanent damage from graffiti. It is important to remove graffiti as soon as possible, to stop it from setting into the material completely. Protective coatings are designed to be breathable for the masonry yet resistant to graffiti.

New Masonry

Educational, residential, commercial, healthcare, historical and institutional facilities built from the ground up.


Bricks may be made from clay, shale, soft slate, calcium silicate, concrete, or shaped from quarried stone. Most commonly made from clay and come in all shapes and colors (sizes vary).

Concrete Masonry Units

Concrete blocks are made from cast concrete, (portland cement and aggregate, usually sand and gravel).

Limestone/Terra Cotta

Limestone is a very popular architectural material that is readily available and easily to cut into blocks or more complex shapes.  It’s a very durable and long lasting material that holds up well against the elements. Terra Cotta is a waterproof ceramic that has been used in many different ways throughout history.  Both glazed and unglazed terra cotta is very sturdy and relatively inexpensive.  Terra Cotta can be molded into many different complicated shapes and sizes.  Glazed terra cotta gives the appearance that the building was finished in granite or marble.


Granite is a natural building material considered one of the oldest building materials known to man.  Granite is a highly durable and versatile material capable of having many types of finishes and can be custom designed for finish and performance. Mable is similar to granite in its commercial and geological definitions. However, marble has less compressive and flexural strength than granite and needs to be carefully selected for each application.  There are four categories of marble (A,B,C & D), each category is suitable for a different application.

Building Sealants

The process by which seams in a building are sealed up in order to prevent intrusion by water, air, dust or insects.


See building sealants

Control/Expansion Joints

Expansion joints are used to separate brick masonry into sections and prevent cracking due to changes in temperature and moisture expansion. The joints are formed of elastic materials placed in a continuous, opening through the brick wythe. This allows the joints to expand and contract as a result of various weather conditions.   These joints are designed to isolate a distressed section of the building so as to not affect other areas.

Glazing Sealants

Over time the sealant around windows can deteriorate allowing water to penetrate.  The deteriorated sealant needs to be removed and replaced to ensure a water-tight seal.


Sealers and coatings can be applied to the surface of the masonry to prevent water penetration, staining and graffiti from penetrating the masonry. Water repellants, graffiti coating, stain repellants, etc. are common sealers/coatings used on exterior masonry.

Façade Inspections

Chicago Façade Ordinace See attached

Critical Examinations

An inspection of the exterior walls by an architect or engineer to determine if there are any defective conditions that need to be repaired.


Same as above.

Temporary Stabilization

Loose stone, brick or Terra cotta could present a fall hazard and need to be stabilized to remove the potential for injury to people below.

Fall Hazard Removal

Loose stone, brick or Terra cotta may need to be removed immediately to eliminate the potential for falling masonry to injure people below.

Sidewalk Canopies

Sidewalk canopies can be erected to provide pedestrians with safe passage through fall hazards zones or work zones.