A framework for specifying natural hydraulic lime mortars for masonry construction

A.M. Forster (School of the Built Environment, Heriot‐Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
K. Carter (Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Publication date: 8 November 2011



The selection of lime mortars for masonry structures can be an important component of a repair or new build project. This selection is considered difficult due to the number of variables to consider during the decision‐making process and the perceived inherent complexity of the materials. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the selection process for determining suitable natural hydraulic lime repair mortars for masonry.


The paper presents a conceptual and practical framework for the determination of suitable lime mortars for repair and construction of masonry structures, drawing and building on relevant, literature and existing best practice guidance on specification.


The use of various relatively newly produced data sets pertaining to durability can aid in the appropriate selection of lime mortars. These determinants must however, be correlated with traditional evaluation of exposure levels, building detailing and moisture handling performance. Building condition survey of the existing fabric is essential to enable refinement of the selection process of these mortars. The adjustment of the initially identified mortars highlighted in the best practice guide may potentially benefit from modification based on the aforementioned factors.


Whilst data exist to help the practitioner select hydraulic lime mortars they have never been correlated with the tacit and expressed protocols for survey and the evaluation of the performance of structures.



Forster, A. and Carter, K. (2011), "A framework for specifying natural hydraulic lime mortars for masonry construction", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 373-396. https://doi.org/10.1108/02630801111182411

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