How to Make Lime Mortar

mortar tool holding lime mortar
  • 12-48 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 500-1,200
What You'll Need
16 cubic feet of fine sand
Barrel of lime
1/4 barrel of Portland cement mix
A cement mixer
Mixing tools
Concrete trowel
Large plastic trash can with lid

Lime mortar is a type of mortar mix that was very popular with skilled artisans and masons during the late 1800s and 1900s. In fact, many people still consider lime mortar to be superior to many types of modern mortar mixes. Lime mortar is still popular for use in older Victorian style or brick homes that were made many years ago. Making a good-quality lime mortar mix is not as difficult as you might think, and this simple how-to guide will show you everything you will need to know.

Note - The following recipe for a lime mortar mix is enough to tuck the bricks or stones for an average-sized house. Therefore, if you need to create a smaller quantity of lime mortar mix, you need to adjust the amounts accordingly.

Step 1 - Gather the Ingredients

Before you get started, you need to make sure that you have all of the materials you need to create a lime mortar mix. Although some home improvement stores may carry lime, you may have to visit a garden and nursery center or another similar retailer to order the lime. The other materials should be available at any home improvement center.

Step 2 - Mix Dry Ingredients

Use the wheelbarrow to haul the dry ingredients to a dry place where you can take your time and thoroughly mix them. Then, take the shovel and mix all of the dry ingredients together (you may need to mix for a while). If you have a large plastic trash can, you can pour the dry materials in that and cover the dry mix with the lid until you're ready to use it.

Step 3 - Preparing the Mixture for Use

Chances are that if you are using a lime mortar mix, you won't be using too much at any given time. Therefore, when you need to measure out just enough dry mixture to last a few hours or a single day. Add just enough water to the mixture so that it becomes like a thick batter in inconsistency. While mixing the lime mortar mix, use your concrete trowel to gauge the consistency. Add water slowly until the lime mortar mix is pliable enough to spread easily without sliding off the trowel.

Step 4 - Using the Lime Mortar

When you use lime mortar, it is important to realize that lime mortar takes considerably more time to set than a regular mortar mix. Although the modern mortar mix uses water to set, lime mortar uses an entirely different process. The lime mortar mix takes a considerable amount of time to set because of a process that is called carbonation.

While regular concrete or mortar mix hardens due to a reaction with the water, lime mortar hardens because of a reaction with carbon dioxide and moisture. This means that it will usually take longer for lime mortar mix to dry than standard mortar mix. If you need to create a faster drying mortar mix, you can use hydrated lime instead of regular lime in your dry mixture.