Natural Cotswold Stone wall and mortar advice please!

18 Sep 2018
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United Kingdom
Hi, I'm a novice building a small natural stone (Cotswold) wall with recessed seating – c. 4m long wall, double skin.

I have about 200 stones, various shapes, sizes.

My plan is to do footing, then get cracking.

My questions are:

1.Which mortar do I use? I want it to be light coloured to match stone, but to last.

I've heard lime is good, but difficult to work with and less strong, although more flexible?

Some suggest a mix of lime, cement, sand? 1:1:5? Others say this is heresy. Which is it!? Any others have suggested snowcrete to make it lighter?

2. Also, once mortared, there will be space between the two skins of stone, as the wall is c. 60 cm wide at the bottom. Can this space be filled with concrete and small stones? Or does it need to be more mortar.

3. I want to include planters/flowerpot sunk in basins at each end – should these be made of different cement/mortar if plants will be watered? Do they need drainage channels?

4. Should I use wall ties, if so – how?

Any advice would be great. Thanks
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A bump after three hours has got to be some sort of record :cautious:

Some suggest a mix of lime, cement, sand? 1:1:5? Others say this is heresy

I once knew a brickie who got crucified for using a bit of fairy in the mortar. :( So yes, always check the scriptures for the correct mix.
Thanks Woody - Sorry - I'm only in a rush because i'm starting this tomorrow! And I don't understand your message. What is the correct mix! ta
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I once knew a brickie who got crucified for using a bit of fairy in the mortar. :( So yes, always check the scriptures for the correct mix.
Indeed, the bit about the walls of Jericho(y)
My comments as a DIYer.
1) Don't use Lime Mortar as it will take an age to use and set for taller walls, and not that easy to get hold of.
2) Using lime, cement, building sand in a ratio of 1:1:5 is good - But note that this is not lime motar, it is normal cement mortar with Lime added to give a bit of extra flow.
3) Using cement, building sand in a ratio of 1:6 is good and used on every house you see. Use a motar plasticsier to give extra flow.

Regarding colour, I have found that this depends on where I buy it from locally. My B&Q has a very red sand, my wickes has a more yellow sand (as you are looking for), my local quarry supplier has yellow sand. I know this as I used 1tonne of quarry sand, rand out and bought 3x 20kg bags from B&Q at 3.30 on a Sunday, whose red colour still stands out in the brick work. :>

So my suggestion is for ease of supply and use and logtivity:
>> cement, building sand in a ratio of 1:6 plus mortar plasticsier

2) For an outside wall why have a gap between the two sides?
As you build up I would bring it closer and fill any gaps with mortar as you go.

3) Regarding basins at each end. A bowl of Mortar will be okay (>2cm thick). But I feel look terrible (until it goes green). Can you put a flat stone, or tile, or slate there?

4) Wall ties, (Never used so cannot give guidance)

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MAny thanks SFK.
My only reason to use lime in the mix was supposedly to add flexibility to stop it cracking - Is that what plasticiser does too?
So I guess I leave out the lime and just go for the right sand / snowcrete to make the right colour? thanks again
Not 100% sure, but I belive so. I use it as it makes the making up and the use of mortar easier.
From Wickes website:
- Mortar Plasticiser improves the workability and adhesion of mortars without adding lime.
- Minimises cracking and crazing in mortar mixes
- Reduces the water content required for mortar
Also the 1:6 mix is a slightly 'weak' mix that also makes mortar more flexible.

Note that I found my local wickes (so perhaps not for you) to have a lightish coloured builders sand, (and they also sell snowcrete, cement, Mortar Plasticiser and wall ties). But if you decide to use they do not sell Lime. I got that from Jewsons.

One other item is that I find that Mortar does go a little lighter after a few months. So do not go too white at the start.
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