Sunday, 21 April 2013

Damp below render, 7 metres up a wall.

This weekend I finally put up a scaffold tower (lent by my friend Mick, thanks Mick) so that I could remove the remaining render from the tops of the north and south gables. This revealed some clear signs that even at 7 metres up the wall, moisture is trapped behind cement render! So that's certainly not rising damp!! It also revealed a bit more dodgy brickwork in need of attention :0(

The scaffold is up at last!

The render on this North gable came off nicely in big lumps. There were clear signs of moisture trapped in the wall. Take a look at this photo - the render on the light areas had been removed for about 15 minutes and started to dry out but look at the dark damp spot where the render is newly removed! This wall is now breathing at last :0)

Clear signs of trapped moisture beneath cement render!

It wasn't all hard work - time to take a break and soak in the view of the newly created veg and fruit garden - formerly our miniature Shetland pony Herbie's paddock (now grazing happily with new friends elsewhere).

Well, finally the north gable is done and the whole north side of the house is now clear of cement render.

The North side of OLF, now ready for renovation to start!

Next, onto the south side to put up the scaffold.

The brickwork on the south gable is not in great shape - what's under the remaining render?
This side of the house takes the full force of the prevailing winter weather and this is at least partly responsible for the poor state of some of the brickwork. There was an area just above the left-hand window which looks like it has moved a bit over the years and needs some attention.

More brickwork in need of repair :0(
The render on this gable was quite stubborn in places but after about 3 hours working off the tower and ladder, the south gable was finally clear of render.

The South side of OLF ready for the real restoration to begin.

So, OLF is now ready for the professionals. Once the weather is warm enough to allow the use of lime mortar, the task of cleaning brick, reinstating brick arches, stripping out cement or old lime mortar and repointing in lime can begin.

Please check my Blog in the coming months four updates when the work gets underway.


  1. Hi Stuart. Congratulations on a fantastic blog. I have recently just bought a small Victorian house in south Manchester which has been rendered with sand and cement and has some damp issues. We are getting the builders in next week to take the render off. I have be doing some reading and found a product called storm dry ( which claims to protect old bricks with a breathable, colourless water sealant and last up to 30 years! I was wondering if you have heard of this product or know anyone who has used it and would recommend it? Many thanks and keep up the great blogs. Marc

    1. Hi Marc, thanks for the kind comments about the blog. I've never heard of that product and personally I am very wary of using any modern 'wonder treatment' on an old house. I'm not even sure you'll need to keep out damp once the cement is removed. Depending on what state the bricks are in if it were me I'd repoint with lime mortar as required and maybe lime wash the walls if the bricks are not very pretty. Then you'll have a breathable building which is how it was designed in the first place, so no need in my opinion to then waterproof the walls. Steer clear of sealants and waterproof paints. Have you explored the forum on you will get good advice there from forum members with a lot of experience.

    2. .......or you can re-render with lime render which is breathable - that may be the option we go for at OLF where the costs of reinstating all the historic brick arches etc is looking prohibitive....... But more on that in upcoming blog posts!

  2. A mixer is the best way to mix sand and cement rendering a wall. Screed battens fixed to wall to help level render. Use a straight edge to level up render.

    1. Solid walls on a house of this age were never meant to be rendered. Removing it allows these walls to breathe and has led to a great improvement in internal conditions.

    2. Lime render CAN of course be used as it will be totally breathable, however modern water repellant or cement based renders should.NOT be used on these kind of old walls.