How to make your own mortar

And no, we’re not talking about the weapon (although that would be very cool to make it yourself, it’s most likely also very illegal), we’re talking about the kind of mortar that makes your bricks hold together. Sure, you can buy pre-mixed, but that’s not always an option (you only need a little, the store isn’t open, …). So, how do you make your own mortar?

What is mortar?

Standard mortar

The classic mixture for mortar is 1 part cement, 3 parts sand and 1 part water. However, using this mixture will inevitably lead to your frustration: as the sand is heavier than the water, it will sink down, in your bucket but also when you’re laying it out on your bricks…

Mortar with a little extra

To prevent the sand from sinking down, you can add a little extra to the water in the form of additives (over here we call it mortar oil). This creates little air bubbles in the water, preventing the sand from sinking down so quickly and easily, and making the mortar easier to handle. Adding a little to the water should suffice.

Mortar with a little more extra

Next thing you can add to your mortar is a little hydrated lime, about one third of the amount of cement. This in turn will make your mortar more vivacious, a little stronger and more elastic, as it keeps the water a little longer enabling the mortar to dry out better.

How do you make it?

The gear

  • Sand
  • Cement
  • Water
  • Mortar oil and/or hydrated lime for the extra’s
  • Bucket
  • Trowel

The method

I usually take the extra or double extra, for reasons explained above.

  1. Add the sand, cement (and lime) in the bucket, and mix it with your trowel until you get a homogeneous mixture.
  2. Add the mortar oil to the water and stir.
  3. Cautiously add the water to the mixture, while mixing the paste-to-be with your trowel. Don’t overdo it, adding too much water will get your mortar too liquid very fast. It’s a very thin line, and I’ve crossed it many times, so consider yourself warned!
  4. The mortar is ready when you can place your trowel straight up in the paste

Of course you can do this in a cement mixer as well, depending on how much mortar you need.

Chrisje friendly?

You can’t do much wrong, if you take into account the warning for getting it too liquid. However, the mixing part is quite intensive.

So there you have it, your ready-to-use recipe to make your own mortar. How do you make it, what do you add and why? Let us know in the comments!