Historic buildings in Ireland were built with lime, gypsum, earthen, Roman Cement and Portland Cement mortars. Lime-based mortars are most commonly found in historic buildings and archaeological monuments, and were used for bedding and pointing masonry, for internal plain and decorative plasterwork, for special purposes, and as external renders.
Mortar analysis provides essential information for the understanding of historic building materials, and for the specification of compatible materials for conservation and repair work. Mortar analyses can provide information on the binder, aggregate, number and thickness of coats or applications, void space, fracturing and macro-porosity within the binder, the presence of hair and other inclusions, and the abundance and distribution of unmixed binder. Information can be gathered not only on mortar composition, but also on likely performance during application and weathering, durability and structural function in order to design quality repair materials compatible with the adjacent historic fabric.
To become useful for conservation works, this information has to be interpreted, with an understanding not only of the composition of the mortar, but where it occurs in a building or structure, its function, how it has weathered over time, and the current needs of the building or structure. Mortar analysis may be carried out to:
A. Develop new mortars for repointing, repair and conservation work
B. To clarify the construction history of a historic building
C. To identify the cause of deterioration of the mortar and/or the masonry fabric
D. To meet the requirements of a planning or other regulatory authority
Bolton, J. (2010) “Conserving historic buildings: the problem of ‘black lime’ mortars”, Journal of the Building Limes Forum, Volume 17, Pp. 28-31
Bolton, J. (2010) “Irish Medieval Mortars: Implications for the formulation of new replacement mortars”, 2nd Historic Mortars Conference & RILEM TC 203-RHM Repair Mortars for Historic Buildings, Prague, 22-24 September 2010. Czech Republic. Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics & RILEM. Pp. 19-27
Bolton, J. (2006) “Integrating New Materials for Conservation and Safeguarding Cultural Heritage” in Drdáckŷ, M. [ed], European Research on Cultural Heritage: State-of-the-Art Studies: Proceedings of the ARCCHIP Workshops, supported from the EC 5th FP Project. No. ICA1-CT-2000-70013, Vol. 3. Pp.263-267. Czech Republic. Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.
Pavía, S. & Bolton, J. (2000) Stone Brick and Mortar: Historical Use, Decay and Conservation of Building Materials in Ireland. Bray. Wordwell Books.
Pavia, S. & Bolton, J. (1997) “Laboratory studies of the interaction between bedding/pointing mortar and building stone”, International Journal for Restoration of Buildings, Vol.3, No.3.