Touchstone Group Solutions provides complete masonry services to residential and commercial building owners in Chicago area. We offer Free Consultation and Free Estimates of masonry repairs, restorations and waterproofing projects.

We Perform the Following Masonry Services:

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Tuckpointing or repointing, in general, refers to the process of repairing mortar joints in stone or brick masonry walls by grinding or raking out the old mortar to a certain depth and then filling in with new mortar.

When you suspect your mortar is deteriorating and may need to be repaired, there is a simple test you can do before you call a masonry contractor. Take a key and rub it across the mortar joint and see if it scratches up powdered material, if it does, then you know you’re a candidate for tuckpointing.

Tuckpointing saves a lot of money if you do it before it’s too late. If you don’t tuckpoint when your stone or brick wall needs it, the masonry wall will deteriorate to a much worse condition. When tuckpointing is done properly, it provides a relatively waterproof mortar joint that extends the life of the wall.

Brick and Stone Repair

Brick or stone veneer buildings are durable and long-lasting, but they can still get damaged. The most common problem with brick or stone veneer building is water and thermal expansion. When water confined in masonry freezes it expands, causing cracking, and deterioration of surfaces. Movement of wall systems caused by building settling also results in cracking in inflexible materials, providing easy access to the elements, which can lead to cracks. Hairline cracks in the brick or the stone can normally be patched. However, if either the bricks or the stone are deteriorated, badly installed, or mechanically damaged or missing they will need to be completely replaced.

Minor problems, such as cracks or missing mortar in just a few areas can be repaired by homeowners, but more widespread problems such as damaged, or missing brick or stone should be addressed by a professional.

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Parapet Wall Repair

Parapet walls are found on all types of buildings from commercial to residential. They are the sections of the wall that go above a roofline and are found at the top of a building.

Because these sections of wall are at the highest point of a building they typically are most exposed to elements. Parapet walls are the first to get any precipitation and the first to deteriorate if not maintained properly.

A damaged parapet wall causes water leakage through the openings in the wall and deteriorated mortar joints. In many cases grinding and then tuckpointing the parapet wall fixes the problem. If the parapet wall is damaged beyond this point, it becomes necessary to take it apart and rebuild it.

Chimney Repair and Restoration

Chimneys are the most exposed to the elements areas of your building. They have to stand up against multiple freezing and thawing weather conditions which cause tremendous stress on the integrity of your chimney. Proper maintenance of the chimney is of utmost importance, not only for aesthetic purposes but for safety reasons as well. You should fix any chimney issue as soon as possible to avoid much more expensive chimney repair.

The first step in reviewing your chimney problem is to inspect the chimney rain cap. A chimney rain cap is the rectangular or round device that fits onto the top of your chimney flue. Chimney caps usually have a mesh screen around the sides. They can be made of stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper or aluminum, and come in a variety of styles. Common problems with chimney caps include: cracks, heavily rusted mesh screen, holes in the screen enabling birds and animals to get in.

Next part to inspect is the chimney cap, it is usually a concrete slab atop of the chimney. Crowns can also be made of limestone mortar, stainless steel etc. It protects masonry from rain and snow filtering down through the brickwork of your chimney. It is important to make sure your chimney cap is well sealed and water-tight. A cracked or damaged chimney cap will allow moisture to penetrate the masonry structure making your chimney vulnerable to water damage, which can lead to crumbling mortar. Some chimney caps can be effectively repaired, while others must be removed and replaced.

If you noticed discoloration, crumbling or missing mortar and bricks on your chimney, it is time for the professional to inspect it. Please note that there are many codes involved in building a safe, compliant and properly functioning chimney that regular brick layers sometimes are not aware of. Make sure that repair, rebuild or restoration project of your chimney or fireplace is done by a licensed and certified mason.

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Masonry Sealing and Waterproofing

Different construction materials expand and contract at different rates, they also might be subject to vibration due to excessive street traffic. Regular mortar is strong but not flexible once cured. Elastomeric caulk joints, unlike mortar, provides durable and flexible sealing solution of most common construction materials including brick, stone, concrete, and steel.

Masonry sealer applications are intended to protect masonry from the wind-driven rain penetration, it also seals hairline cracks that are to small for tuckpointing.

Touchstone Group Solutions seals masonry walls only with Chem-Trete 100% silane solutions, which is highly superior over the water-based masonry sealers.

Lintel Replacement

A Lintel is a horizontal support of timber, stone, concrete, or steel across the top of a door or window, installed to carry the weight of the masonry placed over it. In the Chicago area, steel lintels are most commonly used. The reason for lintel deterioration is rusting due to its age or improper installation. Rusting lintels tend to expand causing stress cracks and further deterioration of the surrounding structure. In most cases rusting lintels must be replaced or repaired. Touchstone Group Solution provides free detailed estimates on the cost of lintel (beam) replacement or repair.

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Efflorescence Removal

Efflorescence is a common issue with concrete and masonry structures. The first type of efflorescence is called primary efflorescence. This type of efflorescence occurs when concrete or masonry work is in the process of curing and the water within the concrete rises to the surface. The rising water often carries minerals. As it comes to the surface and evaporates, it leaves behind traces of minerals. You will notice a small, white, flaky substance on the concrete or masonry work.

Secondary efflorescence is caused by excessive moisture in the masonry work. When the moisture in the brick evaporates it brings the minerals from the bricks clay to the surface and deposits them there in a form of white crusty powder. This effect causes efflorescent surfaces to attract even more water, building up excessive moisture which may lead to faster deterioration and structural problems.

Efflorescence can be removed by washing the wall with water or by water mixed with chemical agents. However, this process will not prevent the reappearance of efflorescence in the future if the underlying problem is not corrected.

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