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Ancient building material still has many uses Print E-mail

One of the universal building materials prior to the end of the 19th century was lime. Lime was present in various forms in almost every building, from limewash on the walls of cattle byres and cottages to the mortar used on cathedral and castle walls.  

According to the British Lime Association (BLA), lime was burnt as early as the 4th century BC, when it was first used as a building material. Today, the universal term ‘lime’ includes quicklime, hydrated lime, milk of lime and dolomitic lime.  

Nowadays, says the BLA: “Lime is one of those usually unseen products that have a profound effect on our daily lives. It is used in many important industrial processes such as steel manufacture, the building/construction industry, in food production processes, agriculture and many environmental applications.... to name just a few.”  

In recent years there has been a blossoming of the use of lime in the repair and restoration of ancient buildings – often putting right the disasters caused by ill-advised repairs in the past using cement.  

The BLA website outlines number of uses of lime in traditional building:  

Limewash

Limewash is a traditional method of painting walls with a colour base that allows the masonry to breathe, providing both protection and aesthetic appeal.  

Limewash is also widely used in agricultural buildings, due to its germicidal qualities coupled with its extreme ease of application and low cost.

Conservation

Buildings pre-1900 would not have been built with cement but with a lime mortar. Therefore, in order to conserve these buildings it is essential to use similar materials when doing so. To introduce cement or cementitious mortar would cause decaying due to the difference in chemical composition of cement and would inevitably result in irreversible damage. Hydraulic lime mortars, hydraulic lime plasters and renders and lime putty are therefore all used for the restoration of our built heritage.  

The restoration of these buildings is often important for surrounding communities, providing them with lasting historical and cultural heritage, prolonging the buildings use as a tourist attraction, and often even increasing the aesthetic appeal of the local area.  

For more information visit the BLA website at www.britishlime.org.

YOU CAN FIND A LIME SUPPLIER OR CONTRACTOR IN YOUR AREA IN OUR ONLINE DIRECTORY HERE

Lime plastering to a late Georgian flat by RJM Heritage Ltd

RJM Heritage were asked to lime plaster all walls and ceilings in this 2nd floor late Georgian flat. The building is Grade 2 listed and therefore had to be plastered in lime. Riven oak laths were used and a 3 coat haired lime plaster applied which will last for another 300 years. 

For more from RJM Heritage visit their website www.rjmheritage.co.uk


Bryan Williamson & Daughters

A family business with a unique philosophy of working sympathetically with heritage and listed buildings, Bryan Williamson & Daughters has restored over 200 houses and listed buildings back to their former glory. Combining extensive experience in traditional construction methods and craftsmanship with knowledge of specialist techniques, they provide their clients with practical advice whilst offering a wide range of services.

Images show Bryan at work on a Georgian Grade One-listed property, Portland House, designed by Robert Adams. Bryan is restoring a chapter from the past into a volume for the future. All the lime plaster is being restored and repainted in the original colours.

Bryan, based in and around London, is an expert in the restoration field and when he is not 'hands on' gives lectures on the subject at shows and exhibitions.

To find out more about his lime plaster and other services visit www.bwilliamsonanddaughters.co.uk


Below are some examples of the work of Dave Richards using lime plaster for both interior and exterior restoration.

Dave, of Cheshire based heritage specialists DCL Plasterers, is now an associate member of the Worshipful Company of Plasterers.

You will find more examples of Dave's work here www.dcl-plasterers.co.uk


Based in Barnoldswick, Kevin Woods is a specialist in old and listed buildings - below are some examples of his work.

More examples of Kevin's craftsmanship can be found at www.woodsbuild.co.uk

 


At St Marks Church in Weybridge, Surrey, RJM Plastering were asked to remove a cement render which was applied in the early 1990’s.

The pressing need to replace the cement with lime render arose from the fact that the cement render was trapping moisture and damaging the stone surrounds. Small amounts of render were also falling off each winter. The new lime render served to make the church more aesthetically appealing, and corrected the damp problem. 

More examples of work by RJM Plastering can be found at www.rjm-plastering.com


This large seventeenth century timber framed barn at Dunwich Farm, Stevenage was converted into a pair of semi detached properties by Anglia Lime Company.

FibreChalk was applied in one coat to a background of Savolit Woodwool board fixed between the exposed timber frame.

There are a number of major advantages to this system. Firstly, FibreChalk mix is based on the ingredients of medieval plasters and so historically and aesthetically contemporary with the type of building.

The ability to apply the plaster in one coat directly onto the board, without the need for meshes or backing coats offers a major labour saving over other lime plaster systems.

The finished plaster dries to a visually pleasing pale cream and does not require decorating, this is a huge advantage, especially in a vaulted roof space where access for redecorating would be difficult and costly.

For more from this company visit their website www.anglialime.com

 
A DMM Online Publication