Specialist restoration: Repointing brickwork in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.For those requiring a traditional service combined with uncompromising craftsmanship to match. I offer laser precision dust free mortar removal.I prefer to follow this with mortar prepared with specially imported sand and top quality natural lime for that prime aged look which will show off your property to its maximum advantage.
Many red brick buildings were originally constructed using lime mortar and the need to continue this trend is essential to the health of a property as older houses are prone to movement and also need to evaporate water vapour through vapour permeable mortar joints.
If your house is old, say Victorian, Edwardian, Georgian or Elizabethan then it will have been built from lime mortar and not cement. Therefore, it is essential that you do not use cement in repairs. If it is applied then the movement inherent in the property will result in cracks and therefore damage to bricks.
Before: extended gamekeepers cottage in the Oxfordshire countryside
After: locally quarried sands and natural hydraulic lime 3.5.
The apex of this North Oxford property had suffered the result of having cement mortar applied by workmen without in-depth knowledge concerning traditional building materials. The work then weathered badly and needed the correct attention. The photo below shows new NHL 3.5 mortar applied and finished correctly
Here are close-up shots of coarse grain mortar which works well with Oxford brick.
If you would like to see a video of the project then please click below
Example of a boundary wall before work commenced:
The above photo is a typical example of the type of brickwork repair for which I am often asked to quote. This particular building was originally constructed in 1903 using lime mortar. Nevertheless, over time, weathering had taken its toll to the point where all of the old mortar and many bricks needed replacing.
The photo below shows the depth of raking needed before new mortar can be applied. Shallower depths - although less time consuming to achieve - only result in the mortar cracking and falling out.
The joints are then filled
New creamy natural hydraulic lime now means the brickwork is restored.
There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction to be gained when working outdoors with natural materials
The finished wall below is one which I completed in natural hydraulic lime in North Oxford.
The damaging use of cement
It is always difficult to repair a property where cement mortar has been trowelled over existing lime mortar as the cement mortar is rock hard and can stick to the sides of the bricks making it often impossible to rake out cleanly and without damage.
Using cement strap pointing will also result in the deterioration of bricks as they become the sacrificial element and not the mortar.
When cement mortar is used in the repair process it also waterproofs joints making it difficult for moisture to escape. It then becomes trapped and the result is rising damp and decayed bricks.
One can always tell a good lime mortar finish as - although it may be trowelled in - it will have been brush finished. Without this brushing process there is no open texture. The negation of this means the joint is not weatherproofed.
Above, this Edwardian house in Poundon had suffered damp therefore the cement mortar was removed and replaced with lime mortar
The traditional and correct practise of brushing is in direct contrast to incorrect trowel finished joints - the consistency of lime mortar simply does not lend itself to this. When lime mortar is correctly brush finished, the aggregates are brought to the surface.
Freezing temperatures or not conducive to brickwork repairs, but neither are baking hot summers. In either case, the newly pointed brickwork needs to be protected with hessian when temperatures are extreme.
Advice: there are still a great many people who are uninformed concerning the correct material for use on old houses. And there are those who will trade on this. Some who lack integrity will pretend they are using lime mortar when in fact they are using white cement. This enables them to complete the work quicker whilst saving money on materials. One must always exercise caution.
There's also the problem of hydrated lime. This is NOT natural hydraulic lime (NHL). Unfortunately it is something which many people - including some tradesmen - confuse with hydraulic lime when the use of lime mortar is specified. All hydrated lime does it to act as a plasticiser which makes cement mortar more workable and therefore easier to apply. Many people believe it makes a mix more porous and flexible in the same way as NHL. It does not. It offers no flexibility or porosity whatsoever and is not strong enought to use as the sole lime based product in a repointing mortar.
Lime putty non-hydraulic lime.
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