The argument on whether to use lime mortar vs portland cement is actually a very important one and using the wrong mortar can cause irreparable damage to historic brick. Over time, concrete struggles to maintain its hold. I have the same question. A cement is a binder, a substance used in construction that sets and hardens and can bind other materials together. Uses [ edit ] Lime mortar today is primarily used in the conservation of buildings originally built using lime mortar, but may be used as an alternative to ordinary portland cement. If the mortar scrapes away and you could dig it out without turning your key into a nub then you likely have lime mortar or at least a mortar with higher lime content than portland cement. Lime Mortar vs Portland Cement Up until 1871 in America, nearly every masonry building was made using lime mortar. This is preferable for exterior masonry and structural masonry making Mortar Cement a better choice for weather resistance through lower permeability of the masonry, and for seismic and load bearing masonry. Often, the mortar walls have moved somewhat, but you won’t see any cracks in a lime wall. Lime mortar, especially putty lime mortars can become soft and friable with age but this does not necessarily mean they are not functioning. The terms cement, concrete, and mortar can be confusing to DIYers because they are often used interchangeablyand inaccurately. Lime mortar has been around since biblical times. Your email address will not be published. Lime mortar, on the other hand, is more accommodating, and its lower compressive strength high flexibility allows the historic masonry units to expand and contract without being damaged. In today’s home stores lime is largely missing from all mortars. ... Cement is a word we use to mean a binder for aggregate and in this sense can be clay, lime, or Portland cement. My 1830 New Hampshire house is brick above ground with a large stone granite foundation. Lime Mortar Mix Ratio As kiln technology improved we could cook bricks hotter and more consistently than in previous years. The more portland cement is added to any mortar the harder it gets, and the harder it gets the greater potential you have to damage brick. Since the introduction of I’ve done some work this way, so far only minor repointing, but that was less than a year ago so not enough time to see any damage if I’m doing something wrong. The thought was that stronger mortar is better (not always the case) and with that portland cement was king because of both its quick set time and high strength. You may, however be able to add fireclay to type S mortar to make refractory mortar. Lime mortar is essentially self-healing, getting harder each day and constantly pulling CO2 out of the atmosphere (the original “green” building product!). Meticulous and steadfast, we are unwavering in quality. Our range of cement and lime are sourced from the best suppliers these include the popular Breedon general purpose cement and Jetcem waterproofing cement, all of which are more than suitable for landscaping, driveways or building projects and any repair or maintenance jobs. A softer hydraulic lime mortar will absorb and evaporate the moisture from the surrounding masonry, thus allowing it to breathe. I’d encourage you to check out my friends at Limeworks. Well, as mortars got harder through the years so did bricks. Lime is also less brittle and less prone to cracking, and any cracked areas can absorb carbon dioxide and mend over time. It very quickly became a favored additive to residential and commercial lime mortars to attain a faster and higher compressive strength and eventually phased out the use of lime mortar almost entirely by the mid 20th-century. When you see a very old masonry wall, look closely at the mortar. Lime has ‘free lime’ available, and when the walls are wetted, the free lime moves into the hairline cracks. Â, Sometimes moisture migration will cause damage to the interior as well.  I have worked on 18th century stone houses that were Portland pointed, and the interior plaster was suffering from moisture migration to the interior.  This causes plaster and paint damage, and even wood decay if the moisture contents are high enough. NHL 5 Lime Mortar; NHL 5 from Secil; Things to consider. Feel free to reference my previous post How To: Repoint Historic Mortar for the details of how the process works. Lime Mortar vs Cement Mortar. The mortar, as it can contain Portland cement with lime or masonry cement, lime and sand, brings together masonry units in structural systems. Good article – thank you. For those restoring a historic building built before 1930 it’s important to select the right mortar to avoid spalling bricks. I’m a general contractor working in historic restoration, a #1 Amazon best selling author, and I’m here to show you how you can do-it-yourself! These then draw in water that becomes trapped in the fabric. ASTM C270 (Mortar for Unit Masonry) specification states that if a portland cement-lime blend contains Type N hydrate, the blender must show through performance testing that the Type N product is not detrimental to the soundness of the mortar. Remember when choosing lime, strongest is not always best, mortars should be sacrificial. They are an invaluable resource selling lime mortars, cleaning products, masonry tools and everything you need to restore or repair historic masonry. Major benefits include: Flexural bond strength Cement and Type S Hydrated Lime mortars have been shown to have high levels of flexural bond strength. 4b) or mortar cements (ref. Your email address will not be published. Cement is also prone to cracking as a structure settles, and may eventually require repair. Lime mortar and other natural cements were used almost exclusively in masonry structures prior to the introduction of portland cement in the 1870s. Lime mortar has better properties than straight concrete mortar. Yes, same question. Mortar should always be softer than the brick it is paired with. The more portland cement is added to any mortar the harder it gets, and the harder it gets the greater potential you have to damage brick. Portland cement does not ‘breathe’ like lime, and an old brick wall, when repointed with Portland cement, will raise the moisture content in the bricks. It’s not quite as easy for us, but there is a simple way to tell what type of mortar you should be using. It had been repointed with cement in the 40s and most of it had popped off. Portland Cement/Lime vs. Masonry Cement/Stucco . It is essentially composed of only three ingredients (lime, sand, water) which are in abundant supply around the world. The variety of strengths available today is mostly accomplished by other additives and air-entrenching in the mortar. The use of Portland Cement/Lime mortars for unit masonry and/or stucco was the standard of the industry for nearly a century. Stone home being prepared for lime mortar re-pointing. Re: Type S mortar vs Portland cement No.   Â, Lime continues to impress; if you look at a modern masonry building, they must put vertical expansion joints periodically to separate the wall sections.  On very old large brick buildings and churches like this one, the lime mortar has enough plasticity that these expansion joints are not needed.  Next time you are at a modern brick school, look at the vertical caulked joints along the walls.  You will see the engineered breaks necessary because there is virtually no movement with Portland; there is no flexibility. The slaked lime used to make lime mortar is created by cooking limestone rocks at 1,650°F. Read more…. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. This has been a concern of mine since starting to work on some brick buildings from 1900. It got its name because it had a similar color to a widely used stone in the Isle of Portland off the coast of England. Â. It is also the preferred mortar … Though considered antiquated, it is still specified today, primarily on military projects or projects located in the northern states. Good luck and happy mortaring! Most stone, other than maybe sandstone, would be a lot harder than old bricks and even portland cement, so would mortar matching be an issue in this case? 4j) are available that meet the requirements of M, S, and N mortars with or without further addition of cement. It is important that the mortar is softer than the masonry. 2,500 psi. For repointing, masons have suggested mixing N-type with lime in a one-to-two ratio. A sign of impending disaster. The powdery quicklime would then be submerged in water for weeks or months to create a lime putty called “slaked” lime that would be mixed with sand (or other aggregates) and water to make lime mortar. Portland cement degrades from the inside out because of impurities like aluminum silicates. Lime mortar is one of the oldest types of mortar known but with the introduction of Portland cement in the 19th Century, the use of lime mortar in new construction, declined. It is self healing! Take good care of your brick and stone by choosing the right mortar when you need to make repairs and your historic masonry will be protected for centuries to come, use the wrong mortar and in only a few years you may end up with disintegrating brick that is extremely difficult to replace. But what about the rest of us in the transition years between 1880 and 1930? In addition, we offer white Portland and fire-resistant cements. Lime has been an important component of mortars for over 2000 years. Lime hardens much more slowly than cement-containing mortars, making it much more workable. Exhibit F describes the differences in materials used to produce each type of cement for mortar. And Limeworks can even make a batch of mortar to match your sample in color and strength exactly! In today’s home stores lime is largely missing from all mortars. SPEC MIX® Portland Lime & Sand masonry mortar is a dry preblended mortar mix containing Portland cement, hydrated lime and dried masonry sand formulated for superior bond, water retention and board life. Take your house key out and scrape it across the mortar joint in question. Portland cement was able to attain very quick setting times compared to lime, but its strengths were fairly limited compared to natural cements and it didn’t catch on for about 50 years. Type S, or Special hydrated lime products, are a combination of calcium and magnesium hydroxides. Portland cement mortar lasts about 50 years, and sometimes cracking and deterioration is visible within 10 years. That stuff is DEADLY nasty! A combination of portland cement and lime may be used as the cementing agent in each type of mortar. Type N mortar mix has a medium compressive strength and it is composed of 1 part Portland cement, 1 part lime, and 6 parts sand. For use in masonry mortar for at or below grade type construction. It is considered to be a general-purpose mix, useful for above grade, exterior, and interior load-bearing installations. Unfortunately, over the last 150 years or more, Portland cement based mortars have commonly been used for repointing joints that were previously filled with lime mortar. But why does this matter for old houses? A lot of damage is done to traditional buildings by pointing them with Portland; it is a fortunate situation that this has never been done on this Roanoke church; it is simply a periodic maintenance job in this case. These qualities help structures withstand weathering and aging better than before. As it always goes with old houses it’s about proper methods and materials. Portland cement came into rapid growth from 1871 to 1920 when its quick initial strength (though it had lower long term strength than natural cements) made it ideal in the rapid growth of America during the Industrial Revolution. With freeze / thaw cycles it will affect the bricks, turning them to dust or breaking off the faces, called spalling. For those restoring a historic building built before 1930 it’s important to select the right mortar to avoid spalling bricks. Portland cement was Invented in 1824 by Joseph Aspdin by mixing calcined hard limestone with clay and mixing it down into a slurry before heating it a second time. Required fields are marked *. Working to repoint an old exterior foundation wall on a small building from mid 1700’s. While Portland cement continues to be commonly used in new constructions of brick and concrete, it is not recommended in the repair and restoration of brick and stone-built structures originally built using lime mortar. 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