More About Lime Mortar and Brookline

Brookline provides church restoration services with general contracting of all trades. Brookline emphasizes the use of green building products in all phases and types of construction.

Lime mortar is a very green building product. Since lime mortar is fired at much lower temperatures than ordinary Portland cement, it uses much less fossil-fuel energy for manufacture than its mortar counterparts.

Green building starts with products that positively affect the atmosphere. Lime mortar and limewash absorb CO2 out of the air over the course of their entire life, which may be over 100 years!

Carbon dioxide is a major concern for many scientists and environmentalists, and many point to elevated CO2 levels as the reason for climate change. Products that absorb CO2 are truly green products of a rare quality. Natural lime putty mortar is such a product, which Brookline uses exclusively for historic masonry restoration.

Brookline combines historic preservation contracting expertise with a commitment to the environment. This unique company has been in business for almost 30 years, providing clients with excellent service, competent direction, and fair prices! Even the General Services Administration (GSA) of the U.S. Government has utilized Brookline's expertise on some of the oldest and most historically significant buildings in the nation's capital. From consulting to Building Evaluation Reports to historic preservation contracting, Brookline offers a wide array of services for church restoration.

Churches are some of our most culturally valuable structures, which must be preserved for future generations. Brookline's commitment to preserving historic buildings and to the environment makes it the company to turn to for real historic church restoration and general contracting for all trades.

Choosing a Mason in Lancaster Pa

Choosing the right masonry contractor in Lancaster, Pa. has gotten a whole lot easier if you have an historic home built before 1900. Brookline has all the historic trades in-house to completely restore your historic home. Brookline is a masonry contractor in Lancaster, Pa. that has skilled masons fully trained in the use of historically-compatible mortars, including locally-made lime mortar.

Lime mortar is not a simple matter. Lime was the only binder for mortars 120 years ago, and is superior to Portland cement in every way except one: speed of hardening. Portland cement was invented and adopted for one reason only, and that is that masons can lay more wall in a day's time because it sets up quickly.

Speed is an advantage. Being able to go fast is superior. But in every other way, Portland cement is inferior to a lime-sand mortar. Portland seals water into a wall, deteriorating the masonry and other building components. Portland destroys historic homes fast.

Having a masonry contractor who knows this is priceless. So many contractors today are uneducated about lime mortar, and how important it is for historic brick and stone. Brookline uses lime putty from Lancaster Lime Works in Lancaster, Pa. to make all of its mortars for restoration of historic homes. The training that Lancaster Lime Works provides can help any masonry contractor to understand the full options when it comes to mortar.

There are many ways to make mortar besides opening a bag and adding sand and water. Knowing the different binders that are available today allows a masonry contractor to make intelligent choices about the mortar that is used in a particular construction situation.

The most important factor in a mortar is breathability. Masonry contractors must have an idea of the vapor permeability of the product they are using for restoration of historic masonry. Using Portland cement to restore any historic masonry will cause damage that cannot be repaired. That is why it is so important to choose a masonry contractor that knows historic mortars.

Brookline is a masonry contractor in Lancaster, Pa. that specializes in historic masonry restoration and historic mortars.

Church Restoration Specialists

Church Restoration begins with a company who understands the original building materials. This includes slate for roofing and historic lime mortars for repointing and reconstruction of stone and brick walls. Brookline offers a depth of expertise in the original materials for church restoration, with general contracting of all trades.

Brookline has new, timesaving technology for installing slate, which utilizes the traditional European hook-fastening system. Never before has slate installation been so fast as it is now with the Qwik Slate " system.

Removing the slate from a roof and reinstalling it with this new technique saves time and money, and makes slate roof restoration financially feasible.

Slate restoration is important to do on an annual basis. The predominance of non-historic roofing materials makes us think that a roof can be installed and then allowed to weather for 30 years without touching it.

Slate restoration begins with a thorough inspection of slates, fasteners, valleys, and flashings to locate leaking concerns and areas of possible deck deterioration. This is a reasonably inexpensive service compared to the repair options it provides, saving long-term deterioration of the roof and structure.

Brookline provides slate roof inspections and repairs, giving clients the power to identify problems early and budget in a way that facilitates preservation of their historic slate roof. Now Brookline makes it possible to repair and replace slate roof systems using copper and stainless steel fasteners to match the original roof. This can be done with almost any budget, as long as clients realize that maintaining a slate roof annually is critical to the long-term durability of the roof.

Church restoration should begin with a general contractor that has staff trained in the historic trades and committed to using original materials--slate roofing, copper work, historic masonry restoration, and lime mortars. Brookline possesses this expertise in-house, and has a network of subcontractors with a track record of reliability in the historic trades.

Church restoration can be a straightforward and do-able process. Choose Brookline to bring expertise in historic slate restoration and historic masonry restoration to your project. Sometimes the solution is easier than you thought.

Brick Repairs in Lancaster Pa.

Historic brick needs to be repaired sometimes. Sometimes the mortar gets loose and falls out. Sometimes the face of the brick erodes or falls off, and sometimes bricks just get loose and fall out. In Lancaster, Pa. we see these situations everywhere we go to do work. So many historic brick homes need brick repairs, and there are not many masons out there who are skilled at brick restoration and brick repairs.

We see so many sloppy brick repairs and brick replacements on historic homes that are done with modern brick. These kinds of unskilled repairs stand out to the experienced and inexperienced eye alike--they are unsightly.

Brookline performs historic brick repairs throughout Lancaster, Pa and the surrounding areas. We have done brick repairs in Washington, D.C., Gettysburg, York, Philadelphia, and everywhere in between. One of the most common places for bricks to need repair and replacement is on chimneys. Brookline repoints and rebuilds these chimneys.

We do not use any Portland Cement for historic brick repairs. It does not matter how much Portland a mason mixes into the mortar--it will seal in moisture, become brittle, and start deteriorating the brick within just a few months. It may take a couple years to you start seeing it, but it will show. Even a Type O or Type K mortar, which is a very weak Portland mixture, will trap moisture, deteriorate bricks, and crack.

Lime mortar is what Brookline uses for historic brick repairs. Lime mortar is mortar made from high-calcium lime putty, which is completely different from the Type S (mason's) lime that you find at the builders' supply houses. We never advise using mason's lime for brick repairs.

Use only lime mortar, such as can be found from Lancaster Lime Works in Lancaster, Pa. It may be more expensive, but in the long run it will save tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, brick replacement, and hassle. Lime mortar won't crack and fall out, and it won't cause peeling paint, mildew and mold, and moisture problems on the interior of the building like Portland does.

Mold, peeling paint, and rotten wood on the inside of the historic brick or stone house is usually caused by Portland cement mortar used in the pointing or the stucco on the exterior. The moisture has no way to get out of the wall. It has to go out somewhere! Portland cement will cost much much more than it saves when it comes to brick repairs, brick repointing, and brick replacements.

Portland Cement Mortar Wrecks Historic Buildings

Portland Cement Mortar Wrecks Historic Buildings

The most common mistake in historic masonry preservation is using the wrong mortar. By wrong, we mean a mortar that is not compatible with the masonry units, or one that contains Portland cement in any quantity.

Portland cement is sometimes compatible with certain hard stones in terms of hardness, but it is never the right choice because it is not breathable and does not last long enough to qualify for historic preservation. It is not an historic material, and it is inferior to lime mortars in most respects.

The photo here illustrates an extreme example of what happens when soft, historic brick is pointed with Portland cement mortar.

The mortar shown is Portland cement. It is so much harder than the brick. But the other problem here is that the porous bricks take on moisture from the atmosphere, precipitation, and the building's interior, and the Portland cement will not let it pass. That is true even if it is a Type O (low Portland content) mortar. There is no breathability or flexibility, so it chisels away at the brick, and causes moisture to freeze in the wall instead of escaping.

Why is Portland cement used?

Portland first came into common use in the early 1900's in this country. It was first made in the U.S in 1907, and by the 1940's was pretty universal. Masons liked it because it sets relatively fast, so buildings could go up faster. When using lime mortar, the set times are longer because it is a different chemical process altogether. If the mortar sets fast, you can lay more bricks at a time. Everybody likes fast!!

The problems inherent in Portland make it far inferior to lime mortar in the long run. Sure, you may get the building up a few weeks sooner. But it is going to be coming apart a few decades sooner too!

It is counterintuitive to use mortar that is softer rather than mortar that is harder. After all, wouldn't you think that harder is better?

Someone unfamiliar with the different kinds of mortar thinks so. But it is just the opposite. Mortar doesn't have to be all that hard unless it's a 20-story building. For most historic buildings, the compressive strength doesn't have to be 1/10th the strength of Portland mortar.

Remember, the most important characteristics of mortar are 1) breathability and 2) flexibility. Portland is fine for building skyscrapers and Hoover Dams. But when restoring an historic structure, going back to a compatible mortar means using lime mortar.

Brookline uses Lancaster LimeWorks supplies natural lime putty, mortars, and limewash to the historic preservation industry. Contact us at 717-207-7014 today to order.

A Few Advantages of Lime Mortar

The core of Brookline's masonry preservation division is our commitment to using lime mortar for all historic structures. Lime mortar has many advantages over Portland cement.

Here is a short list of just a few advantages:

Lime mortar is more flexible and less brittle.

If there is building movement, lime mortar will eventually re-seal the cracks in the mortar. Having a softer mortar means soft bricks and stones won't be forced to break. The mortar is the "sacrificial component" of any masonry wall. With Portland, the mortar is so hard that it chisels off the faces of the bricks with even the slightest building movement >i>and all buildings move.

Lime mortar is breathable, which means that moisture that gets in the wall (from damp conditions inside or outside) will escape rapidly. Portland cement seals moisture into a wall, causing mold problems inside, deterioration of wood, and deterioration of the bricks or stones themselves.

Lime mortar still sheds water from rain just as well as Portland cement.

Lime mortar will last longer than Portland cement. Lime mortar that is made from 98% pure calcium will last 100 years minimum. Portland cement mortar lasts about 50 years, and sometimes cracking and deterioration is visible within 10 years. Portland cement degrades from the inside out because of impurities like aluminum silicates. These impurities cause it to get hard fast, but also cause it to deteriorate fast.

Because lime mortar is softer, it can be removed easily, without damaging the bricks or stones. Portland mortar is so hard that it is very difficult to replace without breaking or de-facing the bricks or stones, even if it is badly deteriorated.

Contact Brookline today for your city brick restorations or city stone restorations in Lancaster Pa and surrounding areas.

PA Home Improvement Contractor License number PA1840

Here are a few of the questions from homeowners that we get on a regular basis.

Nothing bothers me as a homeowner worse than seeing cracks in my brick joints and joints that have completely fallen out. I have to look at it day after day, and I am afraid that water is coming in those joints.

I have an old brick home. I would even call it an historic brick home. It was built sometime in the 1800's, but I don't know when. Somebody repointed some of these mortar joints at some point with some ugly, gray mortar that doesn't match at all.

Now I read that Portland Cement damages old historic brick homes. I want to get this Portland Cement mortar out, and put the right stuff in. The faces of my bricks are starting to crack and fall off. Is this what you call spalling?

How do I find out what is the right mortar for an historic brick home? I want some repointing done, but every mason that I talk to uses regular cement for the pointing. I need a good city brick restorations company in Lancaster PA. I want to use something that more closely matches the original mortar for pointing. Does Brookline do repointing? Is your lime mortar going to match my mortar, and will it last a long time?

If these are the kind of questions you have regarding your old brick or stone home here in Lancaster Pa contact Brookline Builders today.

Lancaster Lime Works

Brookline Builders is now using Lancaster Lime Works lime putty mortar and stucco's. Here is a description of the company.

Located in Lancaster, Pa., Lancaster Lime Works is a manufacturer of lime putty and lime putty mortars for repointing and historic masonry preservation of all types. Lime putty is the binder for all of our products. Lime putty can be made into mortar, stucco, plaster, and limewash (whitewash), and is also a key ingredient in historic paints.

Lancaster Lime Works is also a reliable source of information and training related to the installation of lime putty, lime mortar, limewash, and all questions relating to historic masonry restoration and historic preservation in general. Lime putty mortar is very different from hydraulic lime mortar and Portland cement mortar, mainly because it is made from pure calcium carbonate with no clays, silica, or other impurities that give them the ability to "set" under water.

Lime putty mortar is much more flexible and long lasting than hydraulic lime mortar or Portland cement. It is the ideal choice for repointing brick and stone because it is softer than the masonry units that it is bedding. Therefore it can flex with building movement, and can even heal itself (called "autogenous healing"). Because of the flexibility and breathability, Lancaster Lime Works highly recommends its products for stucco applications.

Lime putty stucco can be direct applied to brick or masonry substrates, as well as wood lath and straw bales. It can also be used successfully in interior applications, especially where moisture may be present in small amounts. It is breathable, so it does not trap moisture in walls and other structures, eliminating mold and mildew problems that are often associated with modern repointing and modern plasters/drywall.

Lancaster Lime Works takes pride in producing and selling truly historic products for masonry restoration nationwide, and providing training in the proper installation methods for all of our products. Installation of lime putty products is not difficult; rather it is a very workable and forgiving material. Lime putty installation is very different in every way from conventional masonry materials, and knowing how to install it is critical to a successful installation.

Lancaster Lime Works is the source for retail and wholesale lime putty and lime putty mortar, stucco, plaster, limewash, and historic paints. Lancaster Lime Works can assist specifiers with specifications for historic building and restoration projects.

Historic Restorations in Lancaster PA

So you've made the choice to live in a restored historic home and enjoy the rich heritage of historic architecture. What happens if something in your historic home needs repaired? If you lived in a modern house, you could just call a local handyman, but Brookline offers not only complete restoration packages, but the knowledge and skill necessary to authentically repair historic architecture without just splicing a modern fix onto an old fixture.

You may be wondering why historic restorations and preservation is such a natural fit for Brookline Builders. It is because that is how we were brought up. Character exemplifies the methods used in the original architecture, and these same traits are part of our core values at Brookline based in historic Lancaster, PA. We believe in things that last. Family, heritage, culture, and authenticity are exactly the traits which we were founded upon, and we seek out projects which put these qualities to best use. We know the ins and outs of historic repair and restoration methods and we are here to help if you need to repair a damaged element in your old home.

Historic homes have many fixtures which most newer homes no longer offer. Added elements such as ornate wood moldings, elaborate windows, chimneys and fireplaces, and real solid wooden floors. If you live in an older home, you know that this is just a small sampling of the rich features which some modern home builders have forgotten completely. You also know that your local carpenter or electrician cannot possibly hope to be of help in keeping the historic elements of your home alive while fixing even a minor problem. The team at Brookline knows exactly how and when the original was built, as well as where to find the right parts, such as period hardware and quality lumber, to add years to the life of your home, rather than to take them away.

Historic windows are an excellent example. There is just no substitute for the beauty of those individual wavy panes fitted nicely into ornate wooden frames. If heat is escaping from your original windows, you don't have to pull them out completely, replacing an old treasure with a modern replacement. If you trash those old windows, they are gone forever, taking a piece of history with them. The problem could be as simple as brittle glazing, a rotted mullion, or something else which could be authentically repaired with the skill and patience of a trained artisan. The craftsmen at Brookline know exactly how to referbish the damaged element while preserving the genuine integrity of the original.

Bringing new construction techniques to bear on historic architecture should not be done without care for the uniqueness of the original. Jon Owens and the other craftsmen at Brookline have been fascinated with the historic restoration and repair of old homes since the founding of the company. Jon has researched techniques which preserve, rather than replace, the cultural richness. A workman from your local yellow pages may want to use an industrial sander on your old wood floor because it's faster, but Brookline knows that the longevity and unique quality of the floor is lost this way. Skill, diligence, and a heart for the old ways cannot be replaced by any modern systems which have forgotten where they came from.

Carpentry Repairs for your older historic home in Lancaster Pa

In Brookline's Millwork Division, we take on projects that allow us to reproduce the original profiles and assembly techniques. We believe that an investment in preservation means using materials that will resist the weather in exterior applications such as porch and window repairs. That is why we always use Spanish cedar, Mahogany, or other rot-resistant woods as the raw material for matching and repairing old doors, windows, and other exterior trim parts. Even though this is usually a change from the original material, it represents an improvement that protects your investment, while remaining congruent with the original look and feel of the building. Old growth Pine and Fir would be more original but they are very difficult to find and new growth Pine and Fir will not hold up for more than a few years before rotting if used in exterior applications such as old window sill replacements, window repairs and porch repairs in Lancaster Pa.

Matching old porch floor profile is an example of a specialty Brookline offers. Old porch floor boards are often not commercially available and will need to be custom made. Contact us today for all carpentry needs.

More Entries

All content on this blog is Copyright 2010 by Brookline Buiders.    Back to main site.