Stories From the Field

Post: Window Lintel Replacement Work in East Lakeview

Friday May 28, 2021

Diagram showing location of lintels above windows

This month, AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing was hired to locate and correct the source of water incursion at an elegant pre-war courtyard building in East Lakeview just steps from the lake.

After examination of the exterior and interior wall conditions, it was determined that defective window lintels were the primary contributors to the water damage observed inside the living spaces (refer to first photo). We could tell by the bowing of the steel lintels and the step cracks emanating from the corners of the window heads that these lintels were severely deteriorated and in need of replacement but we never could have guessed just how structurally deficient they were.

Lintels are often referred to as "angle iron” because the shape of the steel used to support the bricks and stones over door and window openings forms a right angle. In residential work, steel lintels typically have a thickness of 3/8” or 1/2”. Steel of this thickness is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of pounds of load without difficulty. The wider the window or door opening, the thicker the piece of steel should be to handle the load and maintain a nice straight shape. In the second photo you can see the cross section of a 3/8” piece of angle iron freshly cut and ready for priming and painting. This is what steel lintels should look like.

Cross section of angle-iron

The third photo shows the condition of one of the window lintels removed from the building. Wow, that is a really awful steel window lintel! (Actually, what crew chief Andy is holding in his hand is more like 99% rust and 1% steel.) It is hard to believe that this hunk of junk once looked like the lintel in photo #2. When steel lintels are structurally deficient, more and more of the brick and stone load gets supported by the window frames and, not surprisingly, owners often complain that their windows no longer open easily because the frames are being crushed and deflected and no longer retain a true square shape.

Andy holding a severely rusted steel lintel

Replacement of window lintels requires strength, patience and technical skill. AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing has the technical knowledge and extensive field experience to replace your window and door lintels correctly. (That means priming and twice-painting the steel before installation, and installing a proper flashing detail including stainless steel drip edges and end dams.). For lintel replacement work that lasts and lasts, please contact us for a free consultation.

Thank you,


Post: An On-going Commitment to Safety

Saturday April 24, 2021

AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing is recognized as Chicagoland’s premiere masonry restoration company not only for its commitment to quality workmanship but also for its commitment to on-going safety training.

Before the brick saws and mortar grinders get powered up, our project managers and foremen have thoughtfully considered the best means of protecting your job site, the masons who operate within it and the general public.

This past week our masons teamed up with master instructor Brian Haddle of Stone Mountain Access Systems to renew our Competent Person safety certifications for supported and suspended scaffolding systems. The classes were thoughtful, thorough and interactive. Classroom learning was supplemented and reinforced with hands-on assignments such as the construction of a multi-tiered fully decked system scaffold .

As company owner, I was very proud of the close collaboration among the masons, tuckpointers, laborers and project managers as they digested hundreds of pages of course material and constructed numerous scaffolding structures on their way to passing their exams.

Regardless of the size or complexity of your next masonry project, you can be assured that your team of masons is SAIA-certified in the correct and safe use of the access equipment needed to perform your job.

We look forward to assisting you - safely - with your next masonry restoration project.

Thank you,


Post: AAA-1 Masonry Goes International

Thursday April 1, 2021

AAA-1 client Ann Halverson wearing her AAA-1 Masonry t-shirt while standing next to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba sign in Havana.

Long-time client and dear friend, Ann Halverson, first discovered AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing through the yellow pages way back in the 1990's. Impressed with the quality work she received on her then-residence in Zion and rental properties in Chicago, more than two decades later Ann still rings the office every time there is a masonry issue afoot. With a Ph.D in Chemistry and decades of apartment building ownership under her belt, Ann is no dummy! All the more reason we are proud to be considered her go-to vendor for masonry issues.

Being such a loyal and vocal fan of AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing, Ann received an honorary company t-shirt years ago and still wears it proudly. Even when she goes abroad! Ann forwarded us this photo while taking a cultural trip to Cuba. What an honor for us. Thank you, Ann!

Post: Quality Work That Will Last For Generations

Thursday December 10, 2020

A licensed mason grinding a mortar joint

The licensed masons at AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing are ready to assist you with your next restoration project.

We are as comfortable replacing shelf angles on a 110-year-old landmarked building as we are grinding and tuckpointing defective mortar joints on a 30-year-old cinder block townhouse.

For quality work that will last for generations, please call the seasoned experts at AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing, Inc.

In continuous operation since 1954.

Post: The End of the Work Season Approaches

Friday November 20, 2020

AAA-1 licensed masons Sebastian and Damen at work

Insufficient roof pitch and undersized downspouts on this rooftop penthouse allowed water to find its way into the interior spaces of this newer condominium building. The solution: Add an additional course of cinder block to the parapet walls to allow the new roof to have a more aggressive pitch. Here Sebastian and Damen start the process of raising the parapet walls (always the corners first).

The cooler weather has arrived and with it an acknowledgement that the number of work days remaining in the season is dwindling. Mortar starts to freeze around 26°F, so at this time of year we study the weather forecasts more than usual to ensure work conditions are safe. If it is too cold for the mortar to cure properly, then we won’t work.

Even though AAA-1 Masonry & Tuckpointing will not work when temperatures are too cold for mortar to cure properly, surprisingly there is no law against it. So, even when the nighttime temperatures are expected to drop well below 26 degrees, if it is sunny during the day you’ll commonly see construction projects in full swing with mortar being mixed and masonry repairs being performed. More often than not, the property owner has no idea mortar requires many days to cure and freezing fresh mortar will lead to poor performance and premature failure.

Although the outdoor work will soon come to a close, we remain very busy meeting with property managers, engineers and home owners to discuss projects for the spring. Should you require a free consultation with one of our licensed masons, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail.

Happy Thanksgiving!