About Lime

The Historic and Sustainable Mortar and Plaster Binder

Lime, which is composed primarily of calcium carbonate (limestone), has been used for vast millennia as the binder which holds aggregates (sands, hemp hurd, and another organic in-fill) together for historic mortars and plasters. It has many admirable properties that make it the material of choice once again when repairing traditional vintage structures and building new sustainable buildings. With a high vapor permeability, lime allows masonry systems to breathe by processing moisture back to the atmosphere and keeping moisture from becoming trapped within the core of walling.

Trapped moisture leads to mold and rot and poor indoor air quality. Lime has a high modulus of elasticity which helps a structure to accommodate slight movement without putting stress and cracking a whole wall system or individual masonry units which make up a structure. Lime is immune to sulfate attack. With these few properties, along with many others, the pairing of the right lime with the corresponding application where it is best suited makes lime  “Fit for Purpose” as a superior building material.

Overall, the cost impact when incorporating the right lime into a building campaign is very low because if offers a long service life while it has a positive environmental impact. Lime is considered to be close to carbon neutral. The embodied energy needed to produce lime is low. As lime cures, it then absorbs COfrom the air. For the perfect material in creating an external shelter to a sustainable building or for being integral to the heart of what a building is made of, internally plastered in and painted with, consider lime. Lime Guides

For more detailed information about Lime, its use in historic preservation, and sustainable building use the links below.

Types of Masonry Binders


What is Natural Hydraulic Lime?

NHL VS Cement

Comparison Chart Lime vs Cement

The Relationship between the Elasticity Moduli and Flexural Strength noted above is very important. The higher the number reaches for the Elasticity Moduli translates to how much more brittle the mortar is. The importance of higher elasticity in mortar is the mortar’s ability to deflect and recover with expansion and contraction. Ordinary Portland Cement has the same expansion and contraction coefficient as that of steel.

The relationship between the number for measuring final Flexural strength of mortar and that number measuring the final Compressive strength of mortar is also very important. NHL mortars have a smaller gap between the final performance numbers for Flexural strength and Compressive strengths in comparison to Ordinary Portland cement mixes. This is beneficial to creating durable mortar. Also note the incredible vapor exchange rate for Ecologic Mortar over the cement based mortars shown.

3 Tips

Three tips for improving masonry repairs


Advice about locally available (Non-Hydraulic) Hydrated Lime

Masonry Pores

Masonry Pore Structure

Past and Future

St. Astier Natural Hydraulic Lime for Historic Restoration, Conservation, and New Build Projects

NHL Green

Saint-Astier is a Green Building Material

Saint Astier 300x225 (1)

A thorough technical explanation on why to consider using only St. Astier NHL

Saint Astier 300x225 (1)

A summary of why to use Saint-Astier Pure and Natural Hydraulic Lime


Chicago Tribune Washington Post Interview of Andy deGruchy, Founder