The Cider House progress has been slow while we focused on the barn during November and December. two weeks of glorious sunshine arrived I had to take advantage and get on with some outdoor work. I’ve been practising and perfecting my lime pointing skills. Most importantly we had to get the lime mixture to the right colour and texture. I worked with half a mixture for half the day to fit in with the day job. For ten days we mixed the lime in our cement mixer every morning like the perfect cake mix. Getting it to just the right consistency takes practice. Lime feels like a heavy material to work with. It’s sticky but not sticky at the same time. It’s laborious work but so pleasing to look at once completed so for me it has been worth every minute.
Simon added a temporary window to keep the Cider House relatively dry for winter. During the fitting the glass slipped from both pairs of hands and embedded itself in Simon’s wrist just above his work gloves. Oooooch a nasty cut. Healed up now after regular cleaning and covering for weeks.
Here’s the process we used for lime pointing
I’ve added some helpful liks below to review lime types and mixes. We used Chaux 7.5 in France. Remeber to complete your own research to be sure that your method works for you. We are not experts and we try to take on board expert advice. This is our interpretation of sharing what we learned.
- Rake out the old sacrificial lime or earth (wear safety glasses and a dust mask the dust gets everywhere)
- Remove debris from old Ivey stems
- Find a selection of smaller stones to fill the gaps
- Protect skin from corrosive lime. Wear goggles or safety glasses and a thick pair of waterproof work gloves. A long-sleeved top is also useful to protect your skin
- Set up your work platform and check the ladders are secure for working at heights
- Wet the wall and the gaps between stones
- Wear protective eyewear and a dust mask when mixing lime. The material reacts with water and you don’t need this fine dust in your lungs or eyes (not healthy)
- Mix one part lime to three parts sand, add water (this depends on how wet your sand is but you need the consistency just right – wet enough but not too wet) There are different types of lime with different setting times. Chose the one that suits your building purpose
- Wet the wall again if its a dry or hot day
- Push the lime from the spot board into the gaps between the stone using a trowel (many sizes and styles to select from. There are also specific pointing knives available). Many people use protective gloves and shape the lime with their hands into the gaps.
- If using your hands to shape the lime mortar into the gaps between stones. (Use thick rubber work gloves to protect your skin)
- When the lime starts to set you can take a stiff nylon brush and remove the excess lime from stones. This process will break the skin that forms as the lime begins to cure and creates a rustic finish if that’s what you’re going for at your French Farmhouse? If the lime is setting quickly in the hot sunshine use a stiffer metal brush. It’s harder to work with the metal brush so best to get your timing right. I use a stiff nylon brush to achieve the finish I was looking for
- Clean your stones as you go
- The French countryside buildings have a rustic look the lime is by no means perfect. Get plenty of mortar in there to protect your wall for years to come. Cover the edges of the stone to achieve a flat finish for the rain to drain off
- If you have warm weather keep wetting down the wall as you work in the new lime mortar
- In the winter with cold temperatures cover your work with sheets or tarps to protect from frost at night don’t work with lime if temperatures are really low in winter or if the weather is really wet as the lime will wash away and won’t set
- It takes months for lime to fully cure
- When the lime has hardened off I prefer to age the colour of the lime by painting over a muddy mixture this dulls down the bright white new fresh lime. You can add poop, mud, different colour sand, and pigment to your lime mixture during the mixing process but I’ve found that the mud just weathers down the look of the white lime and blends in with the original lime mortar finishes within the surrounding area.