Nottingham builders and their utilization of regional sandstone

Homes in Nottingham have a long history of being built from yellow sandstone that is quarried nearby. This is not because sand stone is particularly durable or resistant to the elements; rather, it is due to the fact that it has long been available in large quantities and has been a cheap local natural resource for many generations. Due to the regularly spaced grains in the sand stone, it is very soft and simple to work with, leaving a tidy finish.

Local sand stone has been used to construct many of the large perimeter walls that have been built throughout the East Midlands, particularly in and around Nottingham, over the years. In reality, there are still miles of this dressed soft yellow sandstone walling in existence.

You can find rockeries, which are supported by millions of tonnes of material, all over our gardens. Many of Nottingham’s oldest homes were constructed entirely out of local sand stone quarried from quarries and timber.

Building-quality sandstone is becoming increasingly difficult to find in more recent years due to its scarcity.

There is currently only one active quarry that readily provides high-quality yellow sand stone to Nottingham builders. Today, if you visited the neighborhood sand quarry, you would notice the startlingly tiny pit where the stone is extracted. You’ll see an empty, worked-out pit as you approach the pit, leaving you to wonder when the other one will run out as well.

Since exposed garden walls require the most frequent repair and restoration work, re-pointing, and sand stone masonry is likely some of the oldest brickwork still in use. It is advised to hire a bricklayer for the job due to the old nature of the stone work. However, it makes sense that since a lot of this type of walling is found in gardens or other discrete areas of the home, you might want to try and fix it yourself.

It’s not too difficult to prepare your sand stone walling for repointing. You should start by removing the old, deteriorated mortar from between the joints. I find a used pointing iron or an old screwdriver works well for this. Working your way down the walling from the top of the coping, take extra care not to mark the stone as you remove all of the loose pointing. After finishing this, it’s time to give the area a thorough cleaning with a brush.

Once the area has been thoroughly cleaned and all of the loose mortar has been removed, give the wall a quick clean using a household pressure washer and only tap water. This will restore the stone to its former glory and the wetting of the wall will prevent your nice new pointing from cracking after it has been applied.

Be brave when adding the new mortar to the wall; it is preferable to overfill the joint than underfill it. Put it on without fuss and make sure all the joints are adequately lubricated.

Then, using a clean pointing trowel, start cutting off any excess fill from the top down at the end of the wall where you started the pointing. You’ll observe that as the mortar stiffens, the excess simply slides off and leaves a neat line on the floor. Repeat the process all the way along the wall, then lightly brush the entire wall with a soft brush, always remembering to start at the top.

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