Stone, brick & lime – A facelift – Worth every minute I spend on it

Casa de Flores back in February 2007When 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.

The renovated front of Casa de Flores

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.

Entrance and kitchen window of Casa de Flores

 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 is always sublet to swallows

The roof above the kitchen window is always sublet to a pair of swallows.Foxglove and bumble bee
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…..


5 comments on “Stone, brick & lime – A facelift – Worth every minute I spend on it

  1. Hello! Nice your web and blog. Hard work you have done in your beautiful house.
    First, I would like to introduce myself…I am from Vigo but my mother was born in Figueiroa (near to your house) so I spent a lot of summer holidays there since I was a child… Causality I find your web and I like red it..Its grate your restoration. It’s very sad to see lot of people move to the cities and leave out this beautiful houses, which the only future is to remain destroyed …Congratulations for you!!
    We have also a blog if you want to have a look..
    Figueiroa of my childhood
    its about memories of friends who spend together a lot of summer in Figueiroa in our childhood. If you don’t mind I would like to link your web in our blog..
    best regards. Rosi
    corredoira is my nick name in blogger is a Galician word and if you don’t know the mining is like a small path..

  2. Darn, that’s quite a job, but it’s good to know those little secrets. I might need them one day myself :D!
    It looks lovely now finished. Well done!

    Und nun hab ich den Kommentar in Englisch geschrieben, seufz.
    Macht der Gewohnheit 😉

  3. Hi

    great to meet you virtually. I try to raise interest in rural Galia and encourage people to holiday and maybe move here.
    It’sad to realise the over aging but also it’s agreat opportunity to spend a phantastic holiday and not to forget to live here.

    I’ve changed your blog address into a full link. It’s given me a new idea – blogs by Galiciens… will be anew category soon.
    So long from sunny rural Mer / Sober

  4. Hi Nicoel,

    ich habe das selbe Problem. English ist irgendwie meine Hauptsprache geworden. Ich hoofe mir gelingt dass mit Spanisch auch eines Tages….. seufz….
    Bis bald

  5. Na, wenn Du Kontakt zu Einheimischen hast, wird das doch bestimmt irgendwann gehen, oder? 🙂

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