Adam's Images

By ajt

No mortar

We bought our house knowing it needed work doing on it. Even with a conservative estimate on the work, it was still expensive, but it was worth it for the combination of features we'd get and the location. One of the things we knew needed working on were the stone walls.

The house and the garden walls are made in the typically Breton style: two leaves of rough local stones with a lime mortar between the stones and dirt rubble fill in the middle. The posh houses would have a lime render applied to the outside and the inside, the poor ones were just stone and mortar. For centuries they were built like this and it works fine, the lime lasts for 50 to 100 years depending on the quality and when it starts to fail you hack it out by hand and repoint, leaving the stones in place, and put fresh lime and sand mortar back in. Our house and the garden walls are all long due repointing...

Today's back blip is one of the gable walls of the house (street side), where the masons have hacked out all the old lime pointing. However, during the twentieth century portland cement became popular, which is makes a too-hard a mortar that doesn't breath, and it's often applied to walls, and it takes a hell of a lot more effort to hack out. Old lime can be tapped out with a cold-chisel and a water jet, concrete needs power tools and a lot of care to avoid damaging the stones.

It took them several days, much swearing and power tools to hack out all the old pointing on the wall, to get it to this state. As this is a back blip I can also say that over the following few days they did a very good job at putting it all back together again. Which you'd hope so considering how much this has cost me...

We've the other gable wall to do, the rear wall and kitchen extension, and the front wall to do next... All the walls are small except the other gable, but sadly some of them have a lot of cement in them, so will cost more per square metre to redo is it's going to take a lot of time to hack out the old cement! Round here that works out at €150 per square metre of wall when you add it all up - we have a small house but a long garden wall.... Which is we my wife has decided to have a go at doing the garden wall herself!

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