If your stone steps are crumbling or you need brick or foundation repair, it's time to call in a professional for masonry repair. Masons are skilled tradespeople who build and repair structures made of brick, stone, tile, concrete and similar materials or who replace aging mortar joints. The type of mason you need to hire is dictated by the materials they are trained to work with and the home improvement project you need to complete. To repair the concrete on your back patio, you'll hire a cement mason; to repair a cracked section in your marble bathroom, you'll hire a stonemason. Masonry is a skilled trade that takes years of training and apprenticeship to master.
There are many reasons you might need masonry repair. As houses age and settle, the mortar might become loosened, leading to crumbling or displacement of masonry work. You might need new mortar between bricks, or new bricks to replace old ones. Natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, or extreme storms can cause stone or concrete to take a beating and need patching or repair of an entire section. Accidents can lead to the need for masonry repair, as can good old-fashioned wear and tear. Masonry repair and maintenance is most often needed for fireplaces, chimneys, patios, porches, sidewalks or walkways, foundations, indoor floors, walls, stairs, and outdoor landscaping. Masonry professionals can address anything from a minor repair or cosmetic issue to major structural work. Masons can also perform demolitions and complete rebuilds for masonry work that would cost more to repair than to replace. Common reasons that homeowners call for masonry repair include cracks on brick or stone, cracks in old mortar, water leaks, structures that lean and cracked foundations. Another common project is demolishing an old brick wall and replacing it with a more modern exterior brick.
If you're ready to address unsightly or dangerous masonry problems, here are the factors that affect the average cost of masonry repair.
Type of repair
As with any construction project, the specifics of your particular masonry repair job will determine price. Costs vary for different repair projects, depending on the amount of damage and what is required to fix it. Typically, preventive maintenance and routine repairs prevent larger structural problems, so investing in smaller repairs as they are needed will save you money in the long run. Here are some examples of various projects and their average cost estimates:
Masonry repair company in Lancaster, South Carolina
- Brick-in a door space on a church (making it appear as though there never was a door): $892. This price includes bricks and materials, 12 hours of labor, and sourcing materials (such as special mortar to match existing mortar on the building)
- Repair of 30-foot slate sidewalk: $1,500. This price includes removing loose slates, grinding out damaged mortar, relaying mortar and stone, regrouting, 32 hours of labor and all materials
Masonry and general contracting company in Massachusetts
- Patching, sealing and waterproofing stone to protect it from fissures and cracking after thermal expansion (freezing and thawing of water in cracks): $200-$300. This pricing might cover a half-day of work on a three- to five-stair stone staircase.
- Chimney repairs: $300-$1,000. Pricing varies greatly depending on chimney height, location, presence of a chimney crown, and other factors.
- Tear out and rebuild a structure, such as a stone staircase, that has not received regular maintenance or repairs: $4,000-$5,000
Type of stone
Whether you need masonry repair for your concrete pavers in the side yard or for the marble slabs in your bathroom, your materials will affect your cost. Some masons may include the cost of the stone in the price per square foot for their services. Others may have a separate line item in their quote specifically for materials. When charging per square foot overall, the more costly the stone you need, the higher the cost per square foot. Here's how a masonry company based in Massachusetts averages their project costs per square foot for different types of stone:
- Standard flat round stone: $20-$30 per square foot, including materials and labor
- Pennsylvania flat stone: $40-$50 per square foot, including materials and labor (requires hand-chipping of stone)
- Prefabricated stone: $60-$80 per square foot, including materials and labor
The total cost includes the mason's time and expense for purchasing and transporting the stone. Clients can potentially save by purchasing the stone themselves, but the farther the job site is from the distributor, the higher the delivery fees will be. It's also difficult for the homeowner to know precisely how much and what type of stone you'll need. If you are buying the stone yourself, always confirm with the mason that you have the appropriate material before purchasing. Unlike home goods, you can't always return cut-to-order stone. In the Boston, Massachusetts, area, local stone delivery costs can range between $100 and $150, on average, when a client buys the stone independently. If you want to use imported stone, you may have to pay much higher fees and plan for shipping times when you schedule installation and repair dates.
Type of brick
Brick looks great, is durable, provides good insulation and — unlike wood — does not require paint. You may have brick siding on your home, brick pathways through your yard, or a brick chimney and fireplace you enjoy during winter. Brick doesn't require a lot of maintenance, but does need attention if the mortar or bricks are deteriorating or you notice breakage or sagging. Different types of brick are used for different masonry projects. For example, you don't have the same bricks inside the firebox of your fireplace (fire bricks) that you do on the side of your house (brick veneer). Due to variation in the cost of different types of bricks, the bricks you need will also have an effect on the overall cost of your masonry repair. Generally, the more costly the brick, the higher the cost per square foot. Here are some average price examples of what a masonry company based in the greater Boston area charges:
- More affordable brick: $20-$30 per square foot, including labor costs
- Average brick: $70-$80 per square foot, including labor cost
- Brick projects requiring scaffolding (the brick must be lifted in the air) or projects with difficult access: $100+ per square foot with labor cost
Minimum service fee
Some masonry repair services charge a minimum fee no matter how small the job, depending on the location of the project and the mason's availability. Most masons provide free estimates for their services, so you shouldn't expect to pay someone to come out and assess your project. You typically won't be charged the minimum service fee unless you hire the mason to do a repair job for you. Minimum fees help account for travel time and the cost of transportation and materials, and help the company avoid losing money on a small job. For example, Courtney Masonry & Concrete charges a $300 minimum service fee, which includes up to 4 hours of masonry work.
Masonry is a skilled trade, and masons or companies with years of experience and training typically charge higher rates than those just starting out or with less experience. It's important to hire a mason who has enough experience to handle your job. Doing research before you hire someone for masonry repair can help prevent you from having to pay more in the long run. Read customer reviews, research how many years the company has been in business, and verify their experience by reviewing their portfolio of work and following up with references. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, here are some of the skills that an experienced mason will have:
- Read blueprints or drawings to calculate materials needed
- Lay out patterns, forms or foundations according to plans
- Break or cut materials to required size
- Mix mortar or grout and spread it onto a slab or foundation
- Clean excess mortar with trowels and other hand tools
- Construct corners with a corner pole or by building a corner pyramid
- Align structures vertically and horizontally, using levels and plumbs
- Clean and polish surfaces with hand or power tools
There are several types of masons. Each category of mason is based on the materials that they work with. There are stonemasons, brickmasons and bricklayers, cement masons and concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers and finishers. To understand what type of mason you should hire for your project, the U.S. Department of Labor outlines the services that masons in each area of specialty provide:
Brickmasons and blockmasons — also called bricklayers — build and repair walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys and other structures using brick, terra cotta, precast masonry panels, concrete block, and other materials. Pointing, cleaning and caulking workers are brickmasons who repair brickwork, particularly on older structures from which mortar has come loose.
Cement masons and concrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose aggregate (small stones) in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns and panels. Throughout the process of pouring, leveling and finishing concrete, cement masons monitor how the wind, heat or cold affects the curing of the concrete. They use their knowledge of the characteristics of concrete to determine what is happening to it and take measures to prevent defects. Some small jobs, such as constructing sidewalks, may require the use of a supportive wire mesh called lath.
Stonemasons build stone walls and set stone exteriors and floors. They work with two types of stone: natural-cut stone, such as marble, granite and limestone, and artificial stone, made from concrete, marble chips or other masonry materials. Using a special hammer or a diamond-blade saw, workers cut stone to make various shapes and sizes. Some stonemasons specialize in setting marble, which is similar to setting large pieces of stone.
Terrazzo workers and finishers, also known as terrazzo masons, create decorative walkways, floors, patios and panels. Much of the preliminary work of pouring, leveling and finishing concrete for terrazzo is similar to that done by cement masons. Once the terrazzo is thoroughly set, workers correct any depressions or imperfections with a grinder to create a smooth, uniform finish. Terrazzo workers also install decorative toppings or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.
How to hire a mason
If you need repairs done to your masonry, you'll want to hire an experienced professional. Masonry is a trade that requires years of apprenticeship and on-the-job training. Make sure you're hiring a trained mason. If done wrong, the job may need to be redone or require further repairs, which ultimately adds to the cost. Protect your investment by checking references, asking to see examples of the mason's work, and confirming that the person who has the experience will be on the job rather than a more junior employee.
There is no governing body that regulates the masonry trade. In almost all states, there are no requirements, certifications or licensing that is required to call oneself a mason and provide masonry repair services. An exception is California, which requires a masonry contractor's license for any workers providing more than $500 worth of masonry services. Due to the lack of formal regulation, it is doubly important to do your due diligence when researching potential masonry companies. Once you have a vetted a legitimate professional, make sure you have a signed agreement that outlines the scope of work, the exact type and quantity of materials that will be used, and the project timeline. Include a breakdown of costs and any deposit paid to begin work. It's generally unwise to pay in full upfront. Be wary of a company that demands full payment before they begin your masonry repair job.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right pro for your project. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.