What are the benefits of using lime?
Lime mortar is one of the world’s oldest and most durable building materials when it comes to stonemasonry.
Popular among many civilisations previous to our own, lime mortar has continued to face the test of time in many popular tourist destination still around today. Just look The Colloseum, The Pantheon, or the Great Wall of China where many sections were built around 518 – 618AD. Lime has been used continuously in the re-building and refurbishment of stone projects for over 2000 years.
Even the Egyptians recognised the benefits of using lime, using it to plaster the pyramids due to the durable, flexible, and breathable qualities that were desired for the construction of these superstructures. Fast forward thousands of years however, today, lime is central to the repair and maintenance of historic, heritage and traditional buildings.
The revolutionary method of using lime today in modern buildings is fast growing as the ecological and environmental qualities is increasingly desirable and demanded in eco-focussed building projects, especially in and around the Cotswolds. Here are some of the key benefits of lime broken down into different sections:
Breathability is an essential quality for solid masonry walls, which are found in most period buildings. This makes sure that water can pass through the building, thereby avoiding a build-up of moisture within the fabric and the risk of subsequent condensation or damp taking hold.
The vapour permeability allows evaporation of rising and penetrating damp from within the wall. This permeability or ‘breathing’ is what helps keep the inside of the building dry without the need for a damp course or chemical treatment.
This is due to the open pore structure of lime, which allows a free flow of moisture in and out of the building preventing damp, green mould and moisture build up in the cavities.
Because lime mortars and plasters are porous and open-textured, moisture will be absorbed and released thus stabilising the humidity within the building whilst reducing surface condensation and mould growth.
This elastic nature of the lime also ensures very minimal shrinkage and cracking once dry.
The use of lime forms a protective shield against frost and water movement due to the higher quality of bond achieved with this material and the absence of large cracks. This helps reduce the risk of water ingress and subsequent mould.
In reverse weather conditions such as extreme heat, a wall will dry through natural evaporation and the effect of wind, as lime acts as a natural wick drawing water from the structure.
Lime is a smooth and mouldable material, thus making it highly workable. It is much revered by craftsmen for this reason as it assists in achieving a high level of quality with good bonding ability to other materials whilst maintaining a stunning aesthetic.
First-time users of lime-based mixes will find them a pleasure to use, and they also open up the opportunity to introduce graded and sharp aggregates into the mix which further enhance the performance and aesthetic of a piece of work or project.
At the end of life, lime mortar is completely recyclable which makes recycling bricks, stone, and other natural hard materials so much easier, as they can be disposed of as a single ‘package,’ as opposed to concrete or cement which cannot be recycled.
When calculating the lifetime cost and environmental impact of a building, the amount of building waste and material destined for landfill cannot be ignored.
Lime mortar is a truly eco-logical and environmentally friendly building material in its production, its use and afterlife when it comes to disposal. The carbon footprint of lime production is considered carbon-neutral as it is burnt at a much lower temperature in the production process than cement – 900oC as opposed to cement at 1300oC, therefore using less energy.
Lime is also eco-friendly due to its nature of being used with other green products, such as earth construction and straw bales staying protected by adding small quantities of lime. Carbon adsorbing is also achieved in the production of lime mortar, which continues during the life of the lime as it hardens.
Using lime with other natural materials achieves the best BREEAM rating and Code for Sustainable Homes with a low embodied energy performance.
Lime is just one of the most beautiful of materials and can transform even the plainest of buildings into something of beauty. Not only is it cost-effective and easy to use and mix, but it also creates a wonderful finish once dry. The properties of lime keep a building looking good for longer. Lime mortar dissipates the salt deposits which settle on all buildings, thus reducing the potential for staining.
Today, lime mortars can be precisely colour-matched to brick or stone which enhances the look of a contemporary build. As the demand grows for ecological and environmental building solutions, lime will become a major player as one of the most ecological building materials that also has beautiful looks, high performance, and durability.
Because lime mortar is a flexible material, it will move with a building as natural thermal expansion or contraction occurs. If a hard, brittle, inflexible material such as cement is used, large cracks will
develop, and the material will move away from the substrate (known as debonding) which is likely to also damage the substrate and cause problems within the home.
By incorporating lime into the mix, a gradual micro-cracking will occur. These micro-cracks are self-repairing as the lime diffuses into the minute fissures and hardens over time when reacting with atmospheric carbon dioxide. The process is called autogenous healing.
Low bulk density means it’s good economically as sold by weight but used by volume.
Have a question? Find the answer in our FAQs.
Heritage Lime produce and supply traditional lime-based building products for all stone masonry works. Our unique lime putty is mixed with Cotswold stone dust and sand to produce stunning render for traditional style homes and buildings.
We have a well-established, qualified team of skilled contractors who carry out work in Bristol, Stroud, Gloucester, Cotswolds, Oxford, Bath and beyond. We are Lime experts and can provide comprehensive advice and guidance for all services for stonework and products in stock.
Over the years, Heritage Lime have completed projects across the Southwest of England for both private and commercial clients. We are experienced and qualified stone masons, capable of completing a variety of projects including wall re-builds, building restorations, rendering, plastering, bespoke sculptural work and stone cleaning.
Over the years we have built great relationships with a number of local quarries, giving our customers a wide selection from different types of stone. Choosing from Sandstone, Bath stone, Portland and more. Our team offer expert advice on selecting the right stone for your project.
Do you need a stone mason?
We have 20 years of experience
Building and Restoring a multitude of building
projects located across the South West, Gloucestershire and Cotswolds
Do you need a Stone Mason?
We also have 20 years experience
Building and Restoring a multitude of building projects located across the South West