What is lime used for when building? This article should help the understanding of how lime has been used historically through the ages. For more information on lime, we have a whole section about lime here!

When was lime first used?

Lime has been in use for a very long time, for instance The Great Pyramid is an outstanding example of historical structures built using Lime, and lime has been used for over 4000 years. Eco friendly and traditional conservators, restorers and architects prefer the use of lime as it allows the building to breathe naturally as standard. 

Cement displaced lime in the twentieth century, this was the time when investment in the cement industry increased for defence, military and construction purposes. Lime was known for its properties before this time period, but the more developed material was still preferred by economies of scale and the traditionalist nature of the construction industry. Small provincial factories developed a wide range of limes, each offering different properties depending on its geology, along with other factors such as the kiln itself, the fuel used, even the ability of the lime burner, the typical lime kilns that were spread the length and breadth of the nation.

Why use lime in buildings?

Lime ages beautifully, and has so many amazing properties that can really add to a dwelling or structure. Lime helps avoid decay and dampness, and can provide gorgeous soft looking textures, and when used as limewash with colours added  can really create a beautiful looking surface. Lime is flexible, and old lime can be reused within a couple of days thus wasting less.

How does lime allow walls to breathe?

Lime allows the water vapours and added moisture to pass through the walls instead of trapping them. This means that lime buildings have more space to breathe without letting moisture trap inside leading to destruction of the paint and other surfaces. The recent adoption of traditional construction techniques have recently attracted more architects to use lime in construction due to lime stabilising the internal humidity of buildings as it can absorb moisture. Lime creates a cleaner environment by eliminating the chances of mould growing on the surface, due to the higher PH of lime over standard house paints (which will also create a detrimental plastic moisture barrier) Have a look at some natural lime paints here

Lime plasters are open textured and porous in nature which opens a huge market of architects researching breathable options. 

What are the different types of lime?

Lime falls under two broad categories, Hydraulic lime and Non hydraulic lime.
Calcium oxide which is commonly referred to as quicklime is non hydraulic lime. Due to its chemical and physical properties, it is used in glass, fibreglass and steel industries. It has quick drying properties, best suited for projects which need to be completed in a short time. 
Limestone is the raw material used in the manufacturing of Hydraulic lime. Additional material such as Pozzolana is added in Hydraulic lime to increase their toughness and strength. Hydraulic lime is famous for its application in exposed areas such as chimneys outside the house exterior due to their cement like properties. 

How do you make lime paints?

Painting New Plaster – How to paint on new plaster and lime plaster

FAQ

For more information on lime, we have a whole section about lime here!