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Thread: Mortar issue....

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    Mortar issue....

    So...this house is a bit over 150 years old. Some soldier bricks above a window are very, very loose, as are the two rows above them. Directly over the window. Keeping all bricks in order, I carefully removed each and cleaned it's surfaces. An easy task. It's all vacuumed out with no more chips or loose mortar. I purchased a 55# bag of mortar and took out about 5# and mixed in about a cup and a half of water. First, the mortar will NOT stick to anything!! Second, it started hardening up so very fast that it was not useable within ten minutes. Less than five minutes later it went into the trash as a solid.
    What's the correct way to do mortar? What ratio mix to water? I don't want to mix a lot of it at a time. No more than 5#. What's the secret to getting it to stick? Should I pre-spray the brick and adjacent items with water first?

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    Does the bag tell how much water to add to a 55lb bag? If so I'd think dividing it by 11 should be very close to the amount you'd need for 5lbs. As for the not sticking issue and curing so quickly, I'm thinking the mortar may have been mixed too dry. I'm not a mason so I may be way off on my guessing.

    Edit: Found this video and according to it you should add about 5qts. (160oz.) water for an 80lb bag. This would only be 2 oz. water per lb. http://www.quikrete.com/AtHome/Video-Mixing-Mortar.asp
    Last edited by FordMan59; 06-21-2015 at 05:02 PM. Reason: add video

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    I'm finding out I'm no mason either!! Well, Fordman, it was a 55# bag and said to use between 3 qt and 5 qt. I first used about 1.3 cups for 5#. That went bad in a hurry. The second try was to use two cups with 5#. Went a bit better. Actually managed to get the first brick done before having to toss the rest of that batch. I did some video watching and learned that the brick must be wetted first to help stick. Also that 'painting' it with a thinner mix first helps the stick of the mortar. But I am at a loss on how to keep a small amount of mortar from curing while I'm applying it. Too soupy and it slides out. Just can't find the sweet spot.....

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    Mortar should be mixed with enough water that it has the consistency of toothpaste or a little less. Add a squirt of dish washing liquid to the mix, it will help with the sticking of the mortar to the bricks, another must do is "butter" the bricks, in other words use a trowel and apply firmly the mortar to each brick on surfaces that you cannot apply it to the in place row.
    Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
    Every day is a learning day.

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    I found a couple things. First is to thoroughly wet the surfaces before slathering the mortar, second is there is a retardant powder to mix in the mortar to slow the cure rate. I picked that stuff up today. Looks like maybe a cup per 55#bag. Tomorrow will be another experiment day.....

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    Impressive stuff. The retardant works quite well. Wetting the surfaces first really made a difference in the mortar sticking to the surfaces. I was amazed how sponge like this brick is. Soaked it up very quickly. Although I got a late start on it, I did manage to get half the soldiers done today. Should finish this phase tomorrow. Thanks for the help.....

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