Influence of the Mechanical Properties of Lime Mortar on the Strength of Brick Masonry

  • Adrian Costigan
  • Sara Pavía
Conference paper
Part of the RILEM Bookseries book series (RILEM, volume 7)


This paper aims at improving the quality of lime mortar masonry by understanding the mechanics of mortars and masonry and their interaction. It investigates how the mortar’s compressive and flexural strengths impact the compressive and bond strength of clay brick masonry bound with calcium lime (CL) and natural hydraulic lime (NHL) mortars. It concludes that the strength of the bond has a greater impact on the compressive strength of masonry than the mortar’s strength. The masonry compressive strength increased proportionally to the strength of the bond up to 6 months. A regression analysis, giving a second order equation with coefficient of determination (R2) of 0.918, demonstrates a strong and predictable relationship between bond strength and masonry compressive strength. It was noted that CL90s mortar masonry reaching a high bond value was stronger than that built with a stronger mortar but displaying a poorer bond. Finally, the mechanics of lime mortars and their masonry are similar. The predominantly elastic behaviour of the mortars of higher hydraulic strength compares well with the elastic and brittle behaviour of their masonry, with either little (NHL2) or non-existent plasticity (NHL3.5 and 5); in contrast, the CL90 mortar and masonry exhibit a plastic behaviour.


Compressive Strength Bond Strength Flexural Strength Lime Mortar Mortar Strength 
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The authors thank Paul McMahon, Architectural Heritage Division, Office of Public Works, for supporting this project. All testing was carried out in the Dept. of Civil Engineering, Trinity College Dublin. The authors thank Chris O’Donovan, Dr. Kevin Ryan and Dave McAuley for their assistance with testing; and The Traditional Lime Company, St Astier/CESA Limes, Clogrenanne Lime Ltd and Kingscourt brick for donating materials.


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Copyright information

© RILEM 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil, Structural & Environmental EngineeringTrinity College DublinDublinIreland

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