When we first saw the property we now live in, it was a bit of a sad and neglected sight.
It is important that one sees through this. A combination of stone and brick can actually work in ones favour, as just stone can get a bit overwhelming.
Looking at houses that where restored we knew what we wanted – or “the look” – we intended to archive.
I call it “faded chateau look” as I use a hydraulic lime mix that is slightly pre coloured. This has the huge advantage of always matching and thus the work can be easily partitioned and / or adjusted to the weather. The finish has some rough patches and trowel marks, just like the genuine thing.
It doesn’t work very well on smooth concrete, one has to rough it up, but on old brick work and to “make good” stone work, in my opinion, it is unbeatable.
There is a cement mix with a similar colour but to me the finish is just not exactly the same. Like the grey cement mix one encounters it is also not forgiving for mistakes and even worse it’s harder than the stone work and bricks so any “problems” like slight movements, penetrating water, etc. will crack stones, bricks but not the cement.
Lime dries out as hard as cement, it takes a bit longer, but is more flexible than cement. The idea of using lime is that any “problems” will affect the lime mortar not the structural stone. Lime is also more breathable than cement. Yes it will absorb more water but also evaporates any wetness much easier than concrete.
Last year I covered the brick with a lime render leaving the stonework for another day. A year later, over the last week, I finally pressure washed the stonework, scraped out any loose material and collected all the small stones that tend to fall out.
Once the stonework was nicely saturated and the direct sunlight had faded I started throwing and filling. I use a small spatula as it is more accurate. The idea is to deep fill but also generously overfill. Push in the small stones whilst doing this. I have these in a bucket of water to support good bonding of the lime mix.
Hydraulic lime reacts with water and the top layer is usually semi dry in 24 hours. Working with steel spatulas or floats draws the lime to the surface and may weaken the mix, but as one wastes the top layer anyway it doesn’t matter. Once brushed the sponging starts. Cleaning the stone work and smoothing brush marks.
Again this may slightly weaken the top layer but again if the top 3mm weather off it will add to the look over time.
As written before there was the competition with Pepe, who blinks first and stops to go in and have dinner – “Fin para hoy – Manana es otro dia…” . I also had some visitors and watchers.
The roof above the kitchen window is always sublet to a pair of swallows.
They where so hell bend on feeding that they really did not take any notice of me, even when I worked very close by.
The foxglove does attract all sorts of bees, including this one.
You may also be buzzed by the solitary masonry bee. It’s harmless and will just bore through the wet filling, should you close a nesting site.
Now we have showers and the temperature dropped (just 20C) so all this can slowly fully dry out and no cracks will appear.
Job done! But never fear the list is still endless…..