Mortar Analysis

Mortar = a material consisting principally of a binder (lime/cement/clay…) and a sand/aggregate with a wide range of uses from plastering to pointing.

Historic Lime Mortar

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust are specialists in the analysis of historic and modern mortars.

We assess all samples of mortar as they are received and using our expert knowledge, and in consultation with our clients, we agree on the most appropriate method or methods of analysis to undertake based on the project requirements. You are welcome to contact us before sending samples for advice or to receive a competitive quote.

Mortar analysis is most common for two main reasons; to better understand the material present to aid the specification of new mortars or for recording purposes, and to identify why a new mortar has not been successful.

Sampling

Mortar analysis takes between 10-15 working days to complete. Allow for this in your programme as some techniques require out-of-house lab assistance and cannot be expedited. Work will only commence once the Sample Information Sheet and Client Detail Form have been received fully completed, with an adequate size sample. The information given for each sample helps us develop our Historic Mortars Database which will find trends in historic mortars. Please note that a mortar analysis is not a specification for replacement mortars.

Your sample must be:

  • at least 50g in weight but preferably over 100g;
  • intact as a single or multiple pieces;
  • placed into a sealed and well labeled bag;
  • well packaged to ensure it arrives in the same condition as it was sent.

Mortar Sample Information Sheet (99.7 KB)  
This sheet should be completed and sent to us either with your sample or scanned and sent to us by email.

Client Detail Form (168.0 KB)  
This form needs to be completed and returned before we can start any chargeable work. Ensure that you check and sign, as work will be delayed until we receive a signed form.

Methods of Mortar Analysis Available

There are many different options when it comes to mortar analysis as you can see from the table below, but don’t worry! We will talk you through the best forms of analysis for your sample and then allow you to make the decision on how to proceed when you have all of the information you need.

Method of analysis Wet Chemistry Analysis (SLCT ‘Mortar Analysis by Acid Digestion’) Petrographic Analysis by Optical Microscopy Analysis by British Standard 4551 X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Physical Testing
Suitability for binder type Lime * * * * *
Cement * * * * *
Clay / soil * * * *
Results available Visual description * * * * * *
Original mix proportions * * *
Visual identification of binder type * * * * *
Mineralogical identification of binder type *
Chemical identification of binder type *
Aggregate characterisation * * *
Aggregate grading *
Aggregate match1 *
Mortar mix to match existing2 *
Physical characteristics *

1. This service is currently available for all mortars sampled in Scotland and is being expanded to cover mortar samples from the rest of the U.K.- please contact us if you would like to find out if the service is available for the location of your site.
2. This is not a specification because it does not take into account building use, mortar function, location, exposure, etc.

Our fees are available upon request.

Get in touch about mortar analysis

Scottish Lime Centre Trust is a charity registered in Scotland No: SCO22692

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