External Rendering

The pros and cons of adding cement to lime mortar

The addition of cement to lime mortars is a widespread, almost traditional practice, but few consider why it is done or the consequences. There is also confusion over the substances and chemistry involved.

Non hydraulic lime hardens by a slow process of carbonation, reacting with atmospheric carbon dioxide over a period of weeks. Hydraulic limes and cements set rapidly by reacting with water in a matter of hours. A non hydraulic lime can be made to set much more rapidly by the addition of an hydraulic or ‘pozzolanic’ additive. This practice is known as ‘gauging’. The additives include finely crushed brick powder, PFA, HTI, pozzolana, trass or cement (white or OPC). These all contain finely divided and therefore highly reactive silica and/or alumina, which are the constituents necessary to obtain a rapid chemical set by reaction with water.

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