Southern Timber & Damp
0800 030 2121
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Property care specialists

Sympathetic Building Preservation & Conservation

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Conservation of Old Buildings

Conservation of historic building fabric and preservation of old buildings

Southern Timber and Damp believes in non-destructive treatments. Should any property have been built before the 2nd World War (typically around 1890) every attention and sensitivity will be paid to the origins of the building. If the building has the original lime plaster and which has not been affected by Ground Salts, a non-evasive Damp Course can be injected into the base of the wall with a silicone based gel or cream. This approach is especially conservation friendly in buildings which have been listed.

In principal, modern building technology is not compatible with traditional building technology. The lime based building materials of old buildings allowed the structure to 'move and breathe' - older buildings were not designed for modern living and life style. The lime in the mortar and building materials allowed the moisture contained in the fabric of the structure to diffuse naturally. If the living environment becomes unbalanced as a result of the introduction of modern conveniences (central heating and double glazing to name just two) and the addition of cement based building products, the structure becomes stifled. Lime allows moisture to pass through and cement is impervious to moisture.

Where the internal plaster has to be removed because of contamination from ground salts, there are modern lime based plasters available as well as customised Membranes in preference to cement based plaster systems. Cement based systems are better suited to modern build where there is a preponderance of cement based products used during construction - typically post 1890.

Lime Mortar Repointing

Lime Mortar was in common use prior to the modern form of cement in the late 19th century.

Much damage has been done to historic buildings by the repointing over lime mortar with a cement based mortar. In addition to the impact of the sealing up of a building which will result from the use of cement based products, the rigidness of cement will prevent the structure from moving and the end result will be cracks in the exterior fašade of the building. The open cracks however small will make the structure vulnerable to the elements and diffusion of moisture to penetrate the structure. The moisture then becomes trapped in the masonry of the wall. Lime mortar allows a wall to breathe and for moisture to escape, and lime is not affected by small structural movements.

The appearance and colour of lime enhances the look of historic buildings.

In older buildings (typically those buildings built before 1875) lime mortar will have been used in the original construction and not cement. Many an older building and rather too often buildings of architectural or historic interest and perhaps even listed have been damaged and ruined by the use of inappropriate building materials. Prior to the widespread instalments of Damp proof Course materials and the development of cavity wall technology, lime was an important element of the design. The building joints would draw out moisture from the brick or stone and allow the natural evaporation of excess moisture into the atmosphere. The internal lime plaster would operate and function in a compatible manner to achieve a natural balance of the building structure and the living environment within.

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Call us Freephone 0800 030 2121


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