Lime mortar was in common use throughout the days of ‘canal mania’ and it can be spotted in numerous examples of canal architecture. It was also used extensively in the construction of the canals themselves - in fact our canal infrastructure is still dependent on lime mortar for its flexibility and permeability.
Lime mortar is created by mixing sand, quicklime and water. It has been used for centuries to bond together brick and stone in all types of buildings.
Roman craftsmen certainly knew their onions. They knew that the foundations of a building will move over the years due to changes in temperature and ground water levels. They also realised that if a building is to stand the test of time it must be constructed of materials that allow for this natural movement. Lime mortar is softer than stone or brick and therefore able to accommodate movement without cracking.
Lime mortar also has the advantage of being permeable. It allows the building to breathe by evaporating moisture from within the walls. Consequently, buildings constructed with lime mortar can stay dry on the inside without damp proofing.
Like a good wine, lime mortar improves with age and will last indefinitely as long as it is kept from drying out.
Various ingredients were often added to lime mortar to improve its strength, durability and even colour.
Last date edited: 18 September 2017