For steps, there’s not much more durable than brick and pavers. They’ll last generations and maintain their beauty. The mortar on steps is a little different, but with TLC from a skilled mason like Mike Boyd, repointing keeps a home’s entrance looking great.

You’re going to see it twice, sometimes four times, sometimes six or more times a day.

You’re going to see it every time you leave your house.

And you’re going to see it every time you come back.

It’s your steps – and it’s the first impression that people have of your home.

Mike Boyd, who owns and operates Mike Boyd’s Custom Masonry in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and who has worked in the masonry industry for 25 years,  says that your best bet is to go with brick steps.

Boyd’s Custom Masonry steps portfolio relies heavily on Pine Hall Brick.

“Besides having to point them up,  they are low maintenance, unlike wood that rots and you have to paint it and so forth,” says Boyd.

But low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance.

“Over the years, the mortar erodes because of rain and because it has been walked on,” says Boyd.

Before (above) and after (below) repointing. Photos: Mike Boyd.

That wear allows water to enter the structure, which can lead to issues like crumbling mortar, loose bricks and cracking.

“What I do is come in and grind out all the joints and use a mortar bag that is vinyl lined to squeeze the mortar into the mortar joints,” said Boyd.

Boyd prefers a specific brand of mortar that comes in many different colors. His first job is to choose a mortar that’s a close color match for the mortar that is already there. If a brick or clay paver has broken down, he’ll need to find a match for it, as well.

After grinding all the old mortar out, he flushes out the dust in the joint with a water hose, before using the mortar bag to re-point – or put in new mortar joints – and re-set any bricks that need to be replaced.

Most steps are seven inches high by 11 inches deep, but the exact dimensions will depend on such factors as how high the landing is and how the sidewalk meets the bottom step. A skilled mason knows how to add or take away brick to make the steps safeand avoid tripping hazards.

Cleaning and re-pointing enhances the brickwork’s beauty and ensures its stability for years to come.

Boyd’s Custom Masonry work-in-progress – here a home’s steps, built with Pine Hall Brick Blackmoor brick are being extened. Mike Boyd is an expert in matching mortar. Photo: Mike Boyd.

One new development has been that often, just beyond the steps themselves, thin-set mortar will also fail on the porch or landing floor as well, especially on 1950s-to-1970s era terra cotta mosaic tile surfaces, which tends to loosen and shatter with use.

Boyd said that increasingly, many homeowners are asking for the old tile to be torn out and new stone, tile or thin brick – such as Pine Hall Brick Company’s Paver Tile – to be installed.

Some customers want to leave the surface as is – and others want to coat it against the elements.


“A lot of times, I will recommend sealing a porch if it’s on a concrete slab and that way, you don’t have to worry about water getting underneath,” said Boyd.

Pine Hall Brick Company recommends breathable sealers like siloxane for use with its products.