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Knockbeg College


Lime is the principal binder of traditional mortars, plasters and renders. It tends to be neglected in modern building practice, but it is central to successful maintenance and repair of traditional buildings. Traditionally-constructed masonry buildings used permeable materials such as stone, brick or cob (dried earth) in conjunction with permeable mortars and sometimes renders to keep out the weather. Moisture is both freely absorbed by these materials and released by evaporation from their surface. Damp is kept under control and prevented from reaching the interior by the dept of the wall and by the rate of evaporation.

TSB, Patrick St. Cork

Traditional materials are notoriously difficult to fully weatherproof, even by the application of modern materials such as silicons. Any impermeable coating such as a paint, cement render or sealant inhibits the ability of the surface to breathe and prevents evaporation, causing damp in the interior, and in time it is inevitable that it will crack, flake off or break down, allowing further moisture penetration to compound the problems. Any attempts to weatherproof a traditional wall is therefore pointless. A permeable render provides far more effective protection.

All materials expand and contract with changes in moisture content and temperature. Modern walls, built with Portland cement, are relatively rigid and rely on their strength to resist movement although, in long walls, expansion joints need to be introduced to accommodate the proportionally greater expansion.
Traditionally-built masonry walls work in an entirely different way: they are much more flexible and will accommodate minor structural and seasonal movements by minute adjustments over many joints. Hairline cracks in the mortar may subsequently be resealed by the precipitation of lime.
The use of cement in modern construction works well if the brick or stone is stronger than the mortar, but problems arise when a hard cement mortar is used to re point a traditional wall. This is because the shallow dept of hard cement mortar at the surface is rigid, whilst the body of the wall behind is flexible. Any movement which occurs introduces stress in the narrow band of rigid materials at the face, which is only relieved by the failure of either the stone, the brick or the mortar. As the stone or brick is usually less hard than the cement, it is this that normally fails.

TSB Patrick St.Cork

Hot Lime Rendering

The use of hot lime renders in construction these days are virtually non-existent. It is a lost trade and its use plays a vital role in the conservation and restoration of Ireland historic buildings.  

These days 50% of my work is using hydrated and 50% is using hydraulic. I use hot lime renders when matching into existing render and where historic fabric is decayed and frail, hydrated lime in this case is more sympathetic to the building and more authentic.

Large House Carrick-on-Suir

Cottage Rendered & Limewashed, Tipperary

Fever Hospital, Kilkenny - External Rendering using a Common Mortar (Hot Lime) and Limewash Finish

McKee Army Barracks Dublin, Internal Render using Natural Hydraulic Limes

Rendering using Common Mortar (Hot Lime) Georgian House Kilkenny

Wicklow Head Lighthouse

Common Mortar (Hot Lime) Cottage Co. Offaly

Knockbeg College, Carlow

Cottage Co.Offaly

Cottage, Co.Laois

Cob Cottage, Athy

Gael Scoil Clonmel - External Rendering Natural Hydraulic Limes

Kings Hospital, Dublin

Rahan Church, Co.Offaly

Stradbally Hall

Blue Room, Bishops Palace, Waterford

Riverstown House Front & Back

Annesgift House, Fethard

Lath & Plaster Ceiling

Westport House, Co. Mayo

Holy Cross Church, Kilkenny

Large House, Co. Tipperary