Dear Potential Quality Assurance Client,

Interpretation is everything. When planning a phase for effective conservation or sustainable building campaign it is essential to get qualified guidance to ensure that what is recommended is in fact what is required for the applications. Equally important is that what really is required is what actually gets done by the contractor. Too many times specifications are written without proper guidance for the interpretation of what is needed. The project is executed by the lowest “qualified” bidder who may have a hard time interpreting the specification then many times simply does whatever they think best while the project is in motion. It happens over and over and serves no one well especially when there are failures.
I’ve been in the masonry restoration business for over 40 years. I have heard stories of architects, building owners and contractors disillusioned with lime mortar, lime putty and magic proprietary mixes that have all failed. The bad rap gets pinned on the use of “traditional historic and hybrid mixes” by the contractor and the manufacturer often blames the installer for the error. I believe they are both right. There is in fact many application errors in the industry because of incompatible materials used to make repair mortars, which when blended together using the wrong lime or when a Portland cement gauging is used to improve the wrong lime, fails due to the incompatibility of the repair materials to the substrate and the installer has an error which can’t be avoided.

The use of pure lime based materials is not rocket science and has worked for millennium. However, there will always be failures if care is not administered throughout the project. This should start with the specification of the right material for the corresponding application. If caring guidance does not start and end with the project then an unwanted outcome is going to be the result. In the end it is the owner who finds they have to live with less than what they anticipated or they must fight a huge uphill battle to get what they paid for after the insult has occurred. The architect may then want to shy away from the future use of “difficult” materials or using the innocent contractors who didn’t generate the intended outcome. The contractor is always glad to go back to what they used to use since it served them well for at least what is their window of experience. No one wants trouble and no one can blame anyone for having these natural reactions.

Natural Hydraulic Lime, which is the basis for the repair material line of St. Astier mortars, have many appropriate applications that will yield an excellent service life for their respective applications if adequate diagnosis of where the application will be rendered and adequate training and follow up for their installations is engineered into the project. In the end the contractor will find out exactly how “user friendly” the products really are. The architect and owner will be glad for the timeless beauty that will follow with the correct installation of the right product for the right application.

Please call me to schedule a consultation visit and to design a quality assurance program for your application to ensure its success.

Andrew L. deGruchy
Lime Works.US