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The great lime revival The use of hydraulic and non hydraulic lime mortars, plasters and renders, have been in common practice throughout most of the world for at least 2500 years and probably well in excess of 5000 years. The Romans, Greeks and Egyptians made great use of this natural cement by using it as the principal mortar in there bridges, harbour works and great buildings. Hydraulic lime was of great use as it was able to be used under water and could be made into varying strengths depending on the requirements of the architect. Many examples of lime can still be seen today, standing testament to the outstanding durability of this natural binder. In Guernsey the earliest recorded use of lime was in the 13th century in the construction of our churches. It might well of been used in small amounts by the Romans when they were here as they were the first people to introduce it to the United Kingdom but unfortunately no Roman buildings have survived in Guernsey. As Guernsey has no natural source of lime it had to be imported. In the 18th and 19th century it arrived as ballast in ships, unloaded and then reloaded with local granite to be exported to the UK. It is not known how we sourced our lime mortars before this period, but one possible way would have been to burn our local sea shells. This might seem strange but sea shells are a very pure form of calcium carbonate and could have been collected off the beach, or saved from the populations dinner plates! This would of produced quite a weak non hydraulic lime, which could have been used for internal plaster and lime washes. If a stronger lime was required then the addition of crushed local brick could have been added to produce an artificial hydraulic lime. This type of lime would have had many uses from external renders and pointing which protected the earth mortar from the elements, to durable lime concrete floors. Lime has been making a strong come back in recent years after the realisation by many conservation groups including English Heritage, Historic Scotland, The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and The National Trust of the damage caused by Portland cement. The problem with cement is that it is too hard and dense, so it cracks when the building moves. These fine cracks allow moisture into the wall where it is unable to escape causing salts to become activated so damaging interior paint and plaster. Beams and lintels that have been there for centuries all of a sudden start rotting, all because we try to “seal” our home which is the worst possible thing you can do as this also creates condensation and mould. By using these modern materials you are in effect living in a polythene bag! When our ancestors built houses they used natural materials - earth, wood, stone and hydraulic lime. All these materials are breathable; in other words they do not trap moisture. These buildings have been around for hundreds of years, moving and breathing with the environment and the changes in season. As soon as you put an impermeable coating on a solid wall building, i.e. cement or modern masonry/emulsion paints, then you stop the ability of that wall to breathe which is why today we have so many problems with our old buildings. Hydraulic lime sets just like ordinary portland cement but is a natural building material. During curing lime re-absorbs the CO2 given off in its production, so making it more ecological. Its ability to regulate the humidity of the internal environment and eliminate condensation have a great benefit to human health and the building itself. Lintels, beams and wooden windows are also protected as the natural hydraulic lime draws the moisture away from the wood, thereby protecting it. Natural hydraulic lime does not contain harmful salts unlike cement and gypsum. You can even mix it with sea water without affecting its strength. Lime takes on the colour of the sand used so creating beautiful coloured render/plasters. It is particularly beneficial in a marine environment as it does not contain gypsum, which reacts badly in a salty & damp atmosphere. . •Elasticity, essential for building without construction joints. •Permeability, great benefit to the living environment. •Salt resistant, Sulphate attack and alkali-silica reactions impossible. •Autogenous (the ability to self heal). •Available in a range of colours. •Natural antisceptic.