Portland cement is used for structural applications to form an object. Old houses can be daunting and that’s why I’m here to help you figure them out. Though considered antiquated, it is still specified today, primarily on military projects or projects located in the northern states. A few years ago I learned all about lime mortar and repointed my stone foundation one summer. The characteristics of hydrated lime provide unique benefits in masonry applications that distinguish cement-lime mortars from other masonry mortar materials. It is essentially composed of only three ingredients (lime, sand, water) which are in abundant supply around the world. When the selected mortar is harder than the brick it surrounds then the brick will become sacrificial and worn away rather than the mortar. Lime mortar is more porous than cement mortars, and it wicks any dampness in the wall to the surface where it evaporates. Cement is also prone to cracking as a structure settles, and may eventually require repair. The variety of strengths available today is mostly accomplished by other additives and air-entrenching in the mortar. Portland cement mortar lasts about 50 years, and sometimes cracking and deterioration is visible within 10 years. Also, masonry cements (ref. Exhibit F describes the differences in materials used to produce each type of cement for mortar. 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. A cement is a binder, a substance used in construction that sets and hardens and can bind other materials together. Congratulations, you’ve just diagnosed your mortar in the least scientific, but most convenient way possible! 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. 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! 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. The use of an impervious Portland cement render in place of a traditional lime-based covering restricts evaporation. 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. Working to repoint an old exterior foundation wall on a small building from mid 1700’s. 2,500 psi. 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 heat burns off the carbon dioxide in the rock leaving calcium oxide, commonly called quicklime. In today’s home stores lime is largely missing from all mortars. Retention of water in mortar improves carbonation in pure lime mortars and results in best conditions for early hydration of cement lime mortars – thus reducing cracking and water penetration into hardened mortar joints. They are an invaluable resource selling lime mortars, cleaning products, masonry tools and everything you need to restore or repair historic masonry. In this post, I’ll explain the differences between the two, how to determine which you have, and even where to source matching mortar for your old house. This has been a concern of mine since starting to work on some brick buildings from 1900. Repointing with lime mortar is no harder than repointing with cement mortar, you just have to search a little to find the right products and you have to make your own mortar mix- and mix it properly. Lime is also less brittle and less prone to cracking, and any cracked areas can absorb carbon dioxide and mend over time. If the key leaves a mark but doesn’t do any damage then you’re in the portland cement club. Your email address will not be published. Lime mortar that is made from 98% pure calcium will last 100 years minimum. Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance. Cement hardens very quickly, but may be too strong for some applications, e.g., working with old bricks. 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