I own a 1948 brick row house duplex in Montreal, Quebec. The front facade needs repairs. The sandy mortar is desintegrating; there are holes in areas mostly around the windows and door. The original joint work is not flush with the brick but recessed (1/2 inch). I think they call this style 'raked'.
I asked 4 different masonry specialists to estimate the work and cost of what needed to be done and I got 4 different opinions and of course prices. One of the problems is that they don't agree on what needs to be changed or not. I don't have the proper names of the parts in English so I will try to describe.
One said I did not need to change the metal pieces (lintels?) above the window. The metal is showing rust and according to another who wants to change them, the rust would be pushing the brick up and out. He considers this to be my most pressing problem. Another said absolutely not. The latter quoted over $1000 a piece, the other a couple hundred.
Is this true and when do they need to be changed to galvanized ones?
I have 4 + 2 basement windows on the front. All four have ciment lower pieces (alleges) where the windows are. One is cracked, the others are showing some age, are painted but are fine. I am told by one I need to change them all, by the other change the cracked one only. The quoted prices for the pieces also differ significantly.
The method of repair is also different. One says he will only wash out the sandy mortar that is loose with a pressure washer and fill to the edge. He says there is enough space there that he does not need to dig anymore out. Another would use a grinder and then clean with water before filling to the edge, changing the joint style to a flush joint. Some have also suggested it be sealed with a waterproofing product. I do not have any humidity problems in this house.
Finally what type of mortar mix should they be using on a house of this age? Lime based or portland cement?
There are so many variables, I don't know what to believe or what to do?
It's hard to help with just the descriptions, pictures would help out a lot. I'll try to help on what I can. I would ignore the prices for now. You will always get different prices for the same work, let alone different ways of fixing the problem.
The basics are, You need to figure out what your problems are that need to be fixed and then decide what is the best way to fix them. I know easier said than done as there are multiple ways to fix the same problem, and some are better or more expensive than others. For the lintels most are just primed steel and they do rust after time. The rust could possibly push a few rows of bricks but I doubt it could push with the weight of an entire wall. It all depends on how much they are rusted (pictures help) if they are not bad they can be sanded and just painted again. They would have to be really bad to justify replaceing them. For your windows, it sounds like they are just offering different ways of fixing the problem. I can't offer any other advice without pictures.
It mostly sounds like you have one contractor going to the extreme, one fixing it the best way he can and the other just patching the problem. I can't give advise on which one is right without seeing the problems. The extreme contractor might be right, it depends on your situation. I'm not positive but I don't think you can find lime mortar anymore. It was what was used decades ago before they went to Portland based products.
Here are some pictures. I don't have a closeup of the rusted lintels however.
One contractor wants to change all 4 ciment ledges, but not touch the lintels. The other wants to change the 2 top window lintels and the one on the door on the same level. He considers this urgent. But thinks only one ledge needs changing (the one that is cracked on the 2nd floor).
The 3rd contractor agrees with the first, but is charging the most.
Thank you for taking the time.
Note: One of the pics is sideways : it's a bottom up shot of the front facade.
Thanks but only the third one shows any damage. The sill (ledge) on the second floor looks like it has shifted on the right side. If it has it should be replaced or repaired. The sill might be a two piece unit, in which case they normally put mortar in between them. However it does crack over time. They make very good caulking which would be a better repair and last longer.
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