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Educational Material

Find Out More About Traditional Brickwork






A highly-skilled and refined method of pointing, or re-pointing, brickwork whereby a coloured mortar joint is placed to match the brick and grooved while ‘green’ or fresh, to receive a separate, and carefully placed, lime putty: silver sand ribbon. The ribbon is then neatly trimmed to a smaller scale to form a precise, raised, profile. Its historical intention was originally to create the illusion of accurately laid, cut and rubbed and gauged brickwork, on a standard brickwork façade; constructed of, often-irregular, bricks. In the nineteenth century, however, it was often resorted to as a means to disguise inferior brickwork.


A term used to describe brickwork where a superior finish in the details of an important brickwork elevation is required, such as moulded reveals, arches, string courses and other forms of ornamentation.  A highly skilled branch of the craft of the bricklayer, it involved works to very accurate measurements that raised artisans of the craft to the status of the mason.  By definition, to gauge is to measure, set out and work exactly, objects of standard size so as they conform to strictly defined limits, and this term is eminently suitable for this class of brickwork.  Gauged work is where the bricks are worked or gauged to size and shape.  Special outsized ‘soft’ bricks known as ‘rubbing bricks’, ‘rubbers’ or ‘cutters’ are used.  These can be cut, filed or carved like cheese, yet their surfaces become hard with weathering, enabling them to survive the polluted atmospheres of the big towns and cities.

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Reviving Hot-Mixed Lime Mortars

Gerard reveals how historic mix ratios for lime-based mortars recorded within old craft and architectural books were being constantly misinterpreted as being based on hydrated (slaked) limes when in reality these books were discussing the then ubiquitous use of quicklime: aggregate ratios; and that as upon slaking quicklime increases in volume this largely accounted for why the majority of the lime-based mortars that were being used in conservation, repair and restoration works at that time were far too ‘lean’ (binder deficient): and nothing remotely like the lime-rich mortars of their historical counterparts.

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