some doctors still make house calls
Who are you and what is your background?
My name is David Ray. I have been involved in the masonry business for over fifty years. My father, Lynn Ray, was a masonry contractor in Lubbock for many years. I graduated from Texas Tech and was employed full time as a teacher, coach and counselor in LISD for 38 years, retiring in 2004. I had always done masonry work with my father as a sideline on weekends and during the summer. After retiring from public school work, I began to do masonry repair work full-time. I have operated under the DBA "Brick Doctor Of Lubbock" since June of 2004.
Do you travel outside the city of Lubbock?
Yes, we have worked in most of the towns in Lubbock County and in some adjacent counties. That is about as far as we are able to travel.
Do others help you in your work?
I have associates who help me as contract labor on larger projects. These people have been associated with me for many years and are very reliable and trustworthy.
What exactly is the scope of your work?
We spend most of our time doing what is called "tuck pointing" (replacement of damaged mortar in the joints between bricks) and replacement of damaged brick. We also replace damaged chimney caps and repair all kinds of wall damage, especially cracks caused by foundation settlement. We perform a variety of other services such as stabilizing walls, various types of masonry caulking, and cutting new control joints into brick walls. We work on residential and commercial structures. We do not engage in new construction such as building fences or brick mail boxes.
How do you perform your work?
Using diamond bit blades, we grind out the damaged mortar joints to a depth of about 1 inch and wash them out with water. This is a critical step in the procedure. Doing otherwise would be the equivalent of repainting surfaces which have not been scraped, sanded and cleaned. When we finish out the joints, we do so with mortar that matches the original work for color, depth and texture. We then brush and clean off the brick. In most cases, it will be difficult to see where the repairs were made. We usually set up in alley ways, so we can mix and clean up without leaving a mess in the yard. As we work around the house or building, we clean up as we go, so that no one would notice that the place is being worked on from one day to the next. We take pride in our job site at all times.
What about damaged brick?
We have machines which can remove brick without damaging the rest of the wall. Sometimes matching the original brick is a challenge, but we are always able to come up with an acceptable match. Of course, if you already have some of the original brick, that is a real bonus. When we reset the new brick, we always match the surrounding mortar joints for color, depth and texture.
What causes damage to mortar and brick?
The deterioration of mortar and brick in the Lubbock area is due mostly to exposure to sprinkler water. Our water is very "hard" due to the presence of minerals such as salt and calcium. This water can do a great deal of damage as it strikes against brick walls. Another problem we often see is cracks which appear in brick walls due to settlement of the soil. We have seen more of this in recent years, possibly because of drought conditions.
What about "mortar mites"?
No such thing exists. This fabrication is evidently used to promote the services of some people in the mortar repair business. Crumbling mortar is almost totally due to exposure to sprinkler water, sometimes hastened by originally making up the mortar with a sand-to-cement ratio which is too "poor".
How about using caulk or "masonry repair" preparations to fix damaged mortar joints or cracks?

Most of these materials contain forms of paint and/or adhesives that are difficult if not impossible to tool out and brush. Consequently it is very difficult to do a neat job and they add very little strength to an already weakened wall. If someone has made a mess of your brick walls, we can usually improve the appearance and strengthen the walls by replacing caulk with properly prepared masonry cement.

Caulking does have a valid place between masonry and non-masonry materials, such as between brick and metal, plastic or wood framing. This is because mortar will not bond very well to non-masonry surfaces. Caulking is also appropriate in expansion joints in brick walls or sections of concrete. When we install caulking, we use material specifically made for the purpose which will not shrink, get hard or crack. This caulking comes in a variety of colors and properties which will accommodate different situations.

What about chimney caps?
Almost all caps (covering the space between the ceramic flu liner, where the smoke comes out, and the brick walls of the chimney) are built with the wrong material. That is, they are made with the same masonry cement that was used to lay the bricks. This material is relatively soft and porous for use as a cap for the top of the chimney. In addition, builders finishing out these caps rarely stay around for hours and "float out" the cap to prevent cracks from forming. Consequently, most chimney caps begin to break up and deteriorate within a few years. When we repair chimney caps, we use portland cement (concrete) and float it out so that cracks do not develop. The finished job will be as waterproof and as long-lasting as your sidewalk or street curbing. We will also re-lay or replace any brick which have been damaged as a result of not having a good protective cap in place.
What about waterproofing?
We don't recommend it except in circumstances where you are trying to prevent mold or mildew from developing on the walls. This is usually caused by rain water bouncing off nearby walkways. The better solution would probably be to gutter the roof above the trouble spots. When it comes to erosion of brick and mortar, sprinkler water--not rain water, is doing the damage. Keeping sprinkler water from penetrating brick and mortar will not do anything to stop the damage caused by the minerals that are being carried by the water. The only way to prevent future erosion is to turn sprinklers away from hitting the brick walls. Many people have changed to bubblers or soakers in beds next to the house.
Do you warranty your work?

Yes, we warranty our work for as long as you own the property. We always tell our customers that there is no "final inspection". Any time you see something that we may have missed, call us and we will be happy come by and fix it at no additional cost. The only limitation on this warranty is if sprinkler water continues to strike the walls on a regular basis. The new mortar we put in will be very hard, but will not stand up indefinitely to hard water.

As for settlement cracks, the only way to be sure that they will not reopen is to consult a foundation specialist. Sometimes our customers will use the services of a foundation specialist and then allow us to work on the cracks after repairs have been made to the foundation. (Minor cracks, without corresponding problems inside the house, may indicate only a shifting of the brick footing and may not require foundation repair). About 90% of the time, the cracks we repair will not reopen. When cracks do reappear, that indicates continued stress working on the walls. Cracks which reappear after repair are usually of the minor hairline variety. Nevertheless, we will continue to work with the situation until the customer is completely satisfied.

You are encouraged to check out our record with the Better Business Bureau, where we are a member with an A+ rating.

Do you charge for estimates?
We never charge for looking at a house or building and giving out a written proposal for whatever work you want done.
Is this type of work expensive?
Considering that the replacement cost of the brickwork on a typical house is equal to about 15 percent of the total value of the house, we believe you will find it to be a very reasonable investment. When we finish, if sprinkler water is kept away from the walls, you should never have to worry about your brickwork again.
When and how do you get paid?
We only get paid when the job is done and the customer is satisfied. We never collect any money in advance. On occasion, if a project is unusually large, we might request prior arrangements to collect as specific sections are satisfactorily completed. We never deviate from our original proposal bid unless the customer initiates additional assigned work.
More questions for the Brick Doctor? Great! Just contact us.