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Can't get mortar mix consistency right. Is it me or the sand?

Discussion in 'Building' started by JohnDoe123, 19 Aug 2021.

  1. JohnDoe123

    JohnDoe123

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    Hi all,

    I'm trying to install a patio and got to the stage when I am about to lay the slabs but I can't get the mortar mix right. The mortar is very loose and grainy and doesn't seem to bind. I also can't get it to hold into a ball no matter how much or little water I put in.

    The mix is cement, sharp sand and water. Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?

    Here is a video of my mortar mix.
    https://streamable.com/nvbwmv

    And here is a picture of the sand I'm using. Does it look right?

    IMG_20210819_134739.jpg
     

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    Last edited: 19 Aug 2021
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  3. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Its the wrong sand. You need building sand for what you are doing
     
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  4. JohnDoe123

    JohnDoe123

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    Thanks. Isn't sharp sand the recommended sand to use for mortar mix? That appears to be what most other websites say. I was more concerned whether the sand I had was sharp sand or not.

    What do you think of the consistency in the video?
     
  5. tony1851

    tony1851

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    Sharp sand is a pig to work with; ordinary building sand used for mortar is easier to use and would be OK for spot-bedding flags.
    (edited)
     
    Last edited: 19 Aug 2021
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  6. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    Screed sand for solid beds, building sand for spotting mortar.
     
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  7. JohnDoe123

    JohnDoe123

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    I think I watched too much youtube videos to try and get the perfect mortar mix! My less than perfect looking mortar actually seems to still do the trick
     
  8. John D v2.0

    John D v2.0

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    Sharp sand is what's recommended officially for basic patios, as a relatively dry and lean mix. It doesn't need to stick together and it won't, if it's a dry mix it would only be able to sit there until it goes hard.
    They don't recommend wet mix due to staining on fancy natural stone flag stones.
    We have had good success anecdotally but if you want mortar you can tool into shape you'll need building sand and more water.
    I've noticed for commercial paving it's more like concrete with mesh embedded then some kind of dry mix then the blocks, but for a patio that would be a massive pain.
     
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