What Exactly is Masonry Mortar

What Exactly is Masonry Mortar

Mortar Matters

From our earliest history, we humans have turned to the stones around us to create structures that were durable, protective, and unique to each area. In ancient times, stones and rocks were simply piled on top of each other to create walls, and mud was used as insulation.

Later on, builders created a mix of sand, water and crushed stones to bind the rocks, fill in gaps, and make walls waterproof and insect-proof.

What is Mortar?

That basic recipe for mason mortar has not changed since those early days, and in every part of the world masons created their own mixtures using materials close at hand. The earliest known use of mortar is in a structure built in 6500 BCE, in what is now Pakistan. The Egyptian pyramids were built with gypsum mortar, also known as plaster of Paris.

Masons in ancient China mixed cooked rice into their mortar. Limestone mortar has been found in Greek temples. And in Italy, masons have used volcanic ash for centuries to create pozzolanic mortar. The mix of these different elements gives each mortar its own distinctive look and feel.

Mortar also allowed artisans to create mosaics. It’s clear that mortar has a rich and storied history in the world’s architecture, and it is still an important part of a custom mason design.

Modern Mortars

Traditional masonry uses techniques that have been handed down and refined for centuries. While modern methods and ready-made mortar mixes have speeded up this type of building, it is still one that requires specialized knowledge and training, especially when it comes to brick restoration and other preservation work.

One of the more widely used mortars today is ordinary Portland cement, also called OPC or Portland cement. Invented in 1749, OPC is made from a mix of crushed stones and dries more quickly than other mortars.

You can also find mortars where synthetic polymers have replaced the cement, firestop mortars, and mortars that are steel-reinforced for large concrete repair projects.

Preserving and Restoring

One little-known fact about mortar is that you can’t mix different types when you’re restoring older buildings. This is because most modern mortars are “hydraulic,” meaning they set with water. But lime mortar, which is found in many historic buildings, sets with air. Mixing the two will eventually cause the older building to deteriorate when the lime mortar stops being able to “breathe”.

Masons who work on this type of brick restoration need to know the year the structure was built. They can then create a custom mason mortar based on that. Specialized knowledge is key in any preservation project.

Call on Kelley’s

At Kelley’s Masonry, our masons have in-depth knowledge, training and experience. We have a deep respect for the historical traditions of their craft. We have worked on many historic preservation projects and time after time, our careful and painstaking work has produced beautiful results.

Call us today and let us create a custom mason design that will bring the durability, charm and character of stone into your home.

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