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Tim H

Dark lime mortar

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This house was built in 1925. The lime mortar has a light brown-tan color that is what I am used to seeing around here. When I flaked a little away, the mortar underneath is dark, almost black. It was like this all over, not just next to the portland cement covered rowlock sill.

Except for the blown lintels and typically horrible portland cement repairs/repointing, the walls were in pretty good shape.

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tn_2011220223921_2-18-11%20008.jpg

56.99 KB Any idea what is going on?

Thanks,

Tim

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I suppose it could have been a colored mortar from the start? I've laid up a lot of colored mortar, in my years as a brick layer. Colored mortar was pretty popular for a while in the 70's, but I'm not too familiar with its use in the past. Bill K, may be able to offer more.

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If this was in Chicago, I would simply consider it to be a tinted mortar.

Tinted mortar is fairly common around here in 20's houses. The mortar on my house (built 1920) is a reddish brown.

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I suspect that what you are seeing is two layers of newer mortar on top of the original one -- at least in places. Around here, colored mortar was quite popular in the 20's and early to mid 30's. My guess is that some repointing was done at an earlier point. It may have been done to cover up the colored mortar since it was now an indication of an "older" style that was not currently in vogue. Additional repointing may have been done later for more substantial reasons, such as deterioration.

But based on only one pic, who knows? Have any more photos?

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Mixing pigments with lime mortar for building construction goes back several hundred years. Pigmented mortars were particularly popular in masonry buildings between the early 1880s and the mid 1930s.

The current top suppliers of historically appropriate lime mortars usually supply several stock colors.

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I'm asking because I don't know, but if it where colored mortar from go, wouldn't it be consistent all the way through? Not just the first think layer.

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Like AHI said, it was probably pointed over with a different mortar. Black (well, more like grey-black) mortar is fairly common.

Someone decided to redecorate....(?)...

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I suspect that what you are seeing is two layers of newer mortar on top of the original one -- at least in places. Around here, colored mortar was quite popular in the 20's and early to mid 30's. My guess is that some repointing was done at an earlier point. It may have been done to cover up the colored mortar since it was now an indication of an "older" style that was not currently in vogue. Additional repointing may have been done later for more substantial reasons, such as deterioration.

But based on only one pic, who knows? Have any more photos?

I went back to find more photos and I found this pic of what was originally an exterior wall (before they closed in the porch) that still had the black mortar.

Click to Enlarge
tn_2011221941_2-18-11%20096.jpg

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Here is a pic of the exterior showing the tan mortar (and a really bad repair job under the window).

Click to Enlarge
tn_201122191125_2-18-11%20015.jpg

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And another of the mortar around a portland cement repair at a lintel.

Click to Enlarge
tn_201122191436_2-18-11%20014.jpg

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I didn't think that the entire house had been repointed because the tan layer was so thin in the places that I checked, but after looking again, I think you may be right.

Thanks to all.

Tim

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Am I the only one who thinks that brick was laid by someone other than a mason? The bond is all over the map, the rowlock sills are dead flat, the soldiers at the floor platform aren't level or plumb, and a real bricky would have storied the courses to land at the window heads - not cut the brick around the lintel. Given all the other mistakes in that veneer, it might have been pointed in an effort to get all the mortar one color.

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Am I the only one who thinks that brick was laid by someone other than a mason? The bond is all over the map, the rowlock sills are dead flat, the soldiers at the floor platform aren't level or plumb, and a real bricky would have storied the courses to land at the window heads - not cut the brick around the lintel. Given all the other mistakes in that veneer, it might have been pointed in an effort to get all the mortar one color.

You are correct. The house was built by the sellers grandfather, who was a farmer and barn builder. You may have noticed that the type of bricks aren't consistent throughout either. Also very unusual for a house of this age, in this area, was the poured concrete foundation walls and piers (combination basement/crawlspace).

Some of the issues with the soldiers were caused by the failed lintel at the basement window well underneath. Some, not all.

Tim

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