24 May 2016

How coloured mortar can give your home a designer edge


Often overlooked, mortar contributes greatly to the exterior aesthetics of a property. Iain Betts, an expert in mortar from Tarmac’s Building Products division, discusses how opting for coloured mortar can give a new home a designer edge that makes it stand out from the crowd.


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A large part of a self-build’s appeal comes from the ability to tailor every element and create something that perfectly reflects the tastes and aspirations of the owner. This also applies to the external design which has to maximise kerb appeal.

A feature which is still regularly overlooked, despite having a huge impact on the look and appeal of a property, is the choice of mortar, specifically its colour. Ideal for masonry and roof tile bedding on projects of all sizes, mortar colours that go above and beyond the standard natural or buff options, can completely change the aesthetic appeal of a completed home.

Alternative mortar colours are seen much more often in commercial markets where architects have more forgiving budgets and greater creative freedom that allows them to consider the type of mortar being used, alongside a wider range of brick finishes. Whilst natural or buff coloured mortars will blend in with the most common brick choices, matching the mortar exactly to the brick type can create a sleek, uniform effect. This works particularly well with modern and contemporary housing designs which continue to grow in popularity.

As with interior trends, greys and dark tones are starting to become more common in the mortar world. They are successful at turning simple brickwork into a statement by reinforcing the shadow effect of a joint; especially when used alongside a lighter brick tone.

More daring colours, such as shades of red and yellow, also provide a greater degree of creative freedom. This is essential for creating a building that will truly stand out from the crowd and make a unique design statement. Plus, if the property is in an area where the local stone or brick is very distinctive, such as the yellow stone found in the Cotswolds, then using a match service to find the correct colour may be necessary to complement surrounding buildings.

In addition to the beneficial aesthetics, a coloured mortar can help to maximise economies in other areas of a build. The nominal cost of coloured (in comparison to standard) mortar will enhance the appeal of a lower quality brick for instance. As mortar accounts for around 17% of the brickwork area, it has the ability to transform the appearance of the completed build at a much lower cost.

Furthermore, choosing a reputable manufacturer which supplies factory-produced mortar will ensure consistency and quality for an overall high quality finish. A reliable production method and the inclusion of synthetic iron oxide pigments also removes the potential risk of fading and wash-out, which can happen if the mortar is coloured with separately purchased pigments.

Plus, factory-produced mortar is likely to be much more predictable and reliable in terms of the final colour once applied and dried. The industry-recognised and respected ‘Y reference’ is actually owned by Tarmac and was developed to help builders achieve an accurate specification.

Ultimately, each individual building product should be considered carefully as they play a small but significant role in the overall design and look of a completed property. With mortar making up a large proportion of an external facade, considering coloured options is a simple and achievable way of making a statement and further reflecting the personality of the owner.

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