Tips for Matching Mortar Colors | Ep. 107

Brick fire pit installed over concrete patio with gray mortar between bricks
If at first you don’t succeed in matching mortar colors, try and try again — and then apply masonry sealer. tammykayphoto (DepositPhotos)
  • [1:15] How to equalize the temperatures in your home
  • [5:04] Tips for matching grout color
  • [8:18] Home Depot Best New Product: Pergo Southern Grey Oak Laminate 4-in-1 Molding
  • [9:52] A listener shares the importance of taking care of appliances
  • [13:50] How to create a smoother transition for your threshold
  • [16:27] Use these tools when removing wallpaper
  • [21:09] Tips for replacing tile over a fiberglass form base
  • [25:58] Simple Solution: How to convert a banquet table into a portable workbench
  • [27:31] Question of the Week: What you should know about gas fireplaces, and how to properly maintain them

Dean, from South Carolina, has a house with a concrete patio and a brick inlay. The mortar is aging, and he needs to remove it and match colors.

He isn’t sure how to tackle this repair, so he’s asking us for some advice.

Here’s the thing: Mortar comes in many colors, but most homeowners stick with the basics, so this fix should be relatively simple.

First, clean the area with a pressure washer and some trisodium phosphate to see what the real color is. It usually will be a traditional gray or buff color.

Next, remove the loose mortar. This will clear the way to add more mortar for a clean repair.

Finally, apply the mortar with a grout bag — it’s like a heavy-duty pastry bag that lets you pour the mortar directly into the cracks. You can buy premixed mortar from your local home center, and the grout bag will easily feed the crack.

The new mortar won’t match the old mortar’s color right away. Give it about a month to see how well it blends in with the surrounding surfaces.

If you’re not satisfied with the result, take the mortar you used and apply it over the existing mortar. As it ages, the color should match well.

After you’re satisfied with the new mortar’s color, apply two to three coats of clear masonry sealer. This won’t make the mortar shine, but it will lock in the mortar so water won’t penetrate, stain and deteriorate it.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!

Simple Solutions

Banquet Table Workbench—Folding tables are great to have when extra people visit for dinner. However, once they’re beaten up and past their prime, they’re no longer appropriate for family gatherings. But you can repurpose an old, beat-up banquet table by transforming it into a workbench for your shop or garage. 

Folding tables are about 29 inches tall, which is fine for sitting, but uncomfortable for working while standing up. Here’s how to raise the table height: Cut four 1-inch-diameter PVC pipes to about 12 inches long. Slip one pipe over each metal leg and cover the end with a plastic cap. You can secure the cap with PVC glue, but it’s not really necessary. Now, you have a table that has a comfortable working height of 36 inches. 

Watch: How to Repurpose a Folding Table into a Workbench

Paintbrush Cleaning Tip—To clean stubborn paint from paintbrushes, soak the bristles in hot white vinegar, then rinse with warm, soapy water. And when soaking paintbrushes, don’t simply stand them up in a can; the bristles will get permanently bent out of shape. Instead, drill a small hole through the handle, and pass a short-length wire hanger through the hole. Now, set the wire across the top of the can, suspending the bristles above the bottom of the can.

Watch: How to Clean Hardened Paintbrushes Naturally

Question of the Week

Q: I have never owned a home with a gas fireplace before, and I know very little about them. I have recently noticed my ceramic logs are turning black where the flame touches them.

Is this normal? Also, should I have someone come out to do a yearly service on it like I would for my HVAC system?

A: Any fireplace, whether it’s gas or wood-burning, should be checked out about once every two years.

You should have a Certified Chimney Sweep clean and look at your gas fireplace to make sure it’s venting properly, and have them check up on any other gas appliances in your home.

Some appliances don’t have pilot lights, and even if they do, pilot lights can blow out. Because of this, a dangerous gas leak can go unnoticed. The residual smell of gas has been known to attract spiders, which build nests that clog up the system.

The ceramic logs turning black could indicate there is an imbalance in the air and gas mixture that needs to be checked out.

There is probably an adjustment option that will allow you to avoid this problem, and if the logs are permanently stained, you can easily replace the logs.


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