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When To Use Type N Mortar

Stonemason building a stone step for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

When it comes to constructing durable and reliable masonry structures, the choice of mortar plays a crucial role. Among the various types of mortar available, Type N mortar stands out for its versatility and widespread use. In this blog post, Lennox Masonry of Victoria, BC will explore the composition of Type N mortar and delve into its numerous applications in the construction industry.

Understanding Type N Mortar:

Type N mortar is a general-purpose mortar that possesses a balanced blend of Portland cement, lime, and sand. The proportions are typically 1:1:6, with one part cement, one part lime, and six parts sand. This composition makes Type N mortar suitable for a wide range of applications, striking a balance between strength and flexibility.

Uses of Type N Mortar:

  • General Masonry Work: Type N mortar is commonly used for general masonry applications, such as building walls, chimneys, and outdoor patios. Its balanced composition provides a good compromise between compressive strength and flexibility, making it suitable for various structural elements.

  • Exterior Walls: Thanks to its durability and weather resistance, Type N mortar is often chosen for constructing exterior walls. The mortar's ability to withstand exposure to the elements ensures the longevity and stability of outdoor structures.

  • Brick and Block Construction: Type N mortar is well-suited for laying bricks and concrete blocks. Its workability allows for easy application and adjustments, making it a favorite among masons working on diverse projects.

  • Repairs and Restoration: When restoring historical buildings or repairing existing masonry structures, Type N mortar is a popular choice. Its compatibility with various substrates and its ability to blend seamlessly with existing mortar make it an ideal option for restoration work.

  • Residential Construction: For residential projects, Type N mortar is frequently used in applications like building fireplaces, retaining walls, and decorative brickwork. Its versatility and ease of use make it a reliable option for contractors and DIY enthusiasts alike.

  • Load-Bearing Walls: Type N mortar can be employed in the construction of load-bearing walls. While not as strong as some other mortar types, its balanced composition ensures an adequate level of strength for many structural applications.

  • DIY Projects: Homeowners undertaking their own construction or renovation projects often find Type N mortar to be user-friendly. Its mix of strength and workability makes it an approachable option for those new to masonry work.

How To Mix Type N mortar from scratch:

Stonemason mixing mortar for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

For most homeowners and DIY undertakings, purchasing a pre-mixed bag of Type N mortar which only requires the addition of water is usually the safest bet when it comes to ensuring you have the correct mixing ratio. Here at Lennox Masonry, we approach our projects from a purist's perspective. And while some may argue that it's not possible to obtain a consistent ratio and mixture without pre-mixed bags of mortar, as with anything, practice makes perfect. It's not difficult to gauge the size and weight of a shovel full of sand and replicate it with each additional scoop. It's then just a matter of repeating that judgement for the Portland cement and lime. It just takes...practice.

Stonemason mixing mortar for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

We've found with pre-mixed bags that the fine sand used in the making of them doesn't suit all applications. In working with larger mortar joints that one can find in stone retaining walls for example, it's important to use a coarse sand with thicker pebbles. We also prefer having all of our ingredients separate, with the sand slightly damp, prior to combining it with Portland cement and lime. It is statistically shown to improve the chemical reaction and curing process when mixed this way. The following steps outline the method we use to mix our own mortar by scratch.

Stonemason mixing mortar for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

Step 1:

Using a shovel as a measuring device, simply scoop 6 shovel fulls of damp sand into a wheelbarrow, mixer, or mixing bucket. Using the size of the scoops as a gauge, then scoop 1 shovel full of Portland cement and 1 shovel full of lime into your mixing station of choice. When a mixing barrel is not available, our preference for mixing mortar is using a wheelbarrow as a station and a garden hoe as a mixing tool, but a shovel or even a bucket with a paddle drill will also suffice. We have also had great success with a slotted garden hoe as well.

Stonemason mixing mortar for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

Step 2:

Mix the damp sand, Portland cement and lime together until it is thoroughly blended (usually a few minutes). Slowly add water to the mixture and continue stirring it around until the consistency of the mortar almost feels like dough in your hands. You don't want it falling through your fingers in essence. You want it to be fairly moist and able to remain clumped together.

Stonemason mixing mortar for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC

Step 3:

Allow the mortar to rest for a few minutes prior to mixing it a final time and applying it to whatever masonry material you're working with.

Stonemason building a stone step for Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC


Type N mortar's versatility and reliability make it a popular choice for a wide array of construction projects. Whether you're building a new structure, repairing an old one, or embarking on a DIY venture, Type N mortar offers the right balance of strength and flexibility. Understanding the applications and benefits of Type N mortar allows masonry contractors and homeowners alike to make informed choices, ensuring the success and longevity of their construction projects.

Lennox Masonry in Victoria BC logo

Lennox Masonry of Victoria, BC has been proudly serving both Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands for over a decade. We are small group of skilled masons with a great deal of passion towards our trade and for improving the communities we live and work in. We extend our gratitude to the lək̓ʷəŋən people for allowing us to share and work on this corner of the garden with them. We are thankful for the residents and businesses of Victoria, BC for supporting us in our endeavors!

If you’re in need of a professional and reliable masonry company for your next project, please contact us today!


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