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rory535 05-14-2008 03:35 PM

Basement Wall Mortar
I need some suggestions for mortar work on my basement wall.

We have a moisture (not leaking water) problem which we believe is seepage(hydrostatic pressure) from the surrounding soil. We don’t have the greatest grading and are fixing some potential gutter issues to help correct or alleviate the moisture problem. This moisture causes any paint and plaster to bubble on the wall. We were told the best solution is to remove the plaster and just hang drywall. The idea is that we have a finished product that is not going to be affected by the moisture because unless we dig the outside of our foundation and seal the walls, it is more than likely that we will never stop this seepage completely. This will also then allow the wall to breathe versus trying to seal off the moisture.

The home was built around 1930, so the foundation wall appears to be like a loose rubble foundation. I discovered this after I removed the top layer of plaster and the underlying mortar layer. I figured I would just remove all this and put on a new layer of mortar as there were spots were this was crumbling due to the moisture.

I will post pics of the wall later, but can anyone suggest what would be the best way and what type of mortar to use to do this? It does not have to be pretty as we are putting up drywall. I have heard seeing it is an old house to use a lime based mortar. Ive also seen QUICKWALL’s Surface Bonding Cement that is supposed to be good for restoring basement walls and moisture, but not sure if this would be right for an older foundation. Also, seeing as I have never tackled this before, do I need to put up a wire mesh, to help the mortar adhere to the wall?

Thanks for any suggestions.

rory535 05-15-2008 08:51 AM

2 Attachment(s)
The first pic shows areas where I have removed the entire top layers of mortar. It appears there were 2 layers of mortar. You can see areas, where there is still a layer I did not remove. Thses are areas where there was no moisture. The second shows a closer view of the type of foundation.

Tscarborough 05-15-2008 01:09 PM

That is poured concrete, circa 1930s. Just use regular premixed mortar to plaster it, then buy a product like Thoroseal and coat over it and you will be good.

rory535 05-15-2008 01:45 PM

Thanks Tscarborough. However, I was actually told by waterproofing company guys to not use a sealant because if there is some moisture seeping through, its best to let it breathe through the concrete than attempting to seal it out as this just means it stays in your foundation longer leading to faster deterioration.

Tscarborough 05-15-2008 01:47 PM

That is very true. I thought you were trying to seal it though. In that case, do not apply the thoroseal, just the mortar mix.

rory535 05-19-2008 02:14 PM

I have decided against QUIKWALL although it would have been the perfect application, but it has waterproof properties. I have purchased a Mason Mix Type S mortar seeing as the foundation is older, and will post pics when I am done.

rory535 05-21-2008 09:13 AM

Anyone have any tips/ideas in helping the mortar stick to the vertical wall?
Wow, this stuff just want to slough off. Maybe I will have to go with the QUIKWALL surface bonding cement at this rate?

I did a small section of the wall with the type S mortar and now that it has started to cure, I tapped on it and I have sections where I can hear due to the hollow sound, that it has not adhered completely to the wall. :(

Being a novice at this, is probably why, but any tips would be greatly appreciated.

sevver 05-21-2008 09:32 AM

Have you tried to splash the wall with water with a mortar brush before troweling the mortar on. It will suck the moisture out of the mortar and dry it out otherwise. Using mortar with a lot of sand in it generally does not stick well vertically, we use to add portland to brick mix to mortar the seams in manholes.

rory535 05-21-2008 09:51 AM

I used a water spray bottle. I also applied the mortar with a finishing trowel, should I be using another trowel that will maybe be easier to work with?

drewhart 11-03-2008 11:04 PM

there are liquid bonding agents that you can brush on first. they look like milk, one made by sika and one by quickcrete i have seen. i m sure there are others.

danthemandan 02-03-2009 07:25 AM

rory535 I have this same problem in my basement, I would love to to to know how this worked out for you and what you ended up using.

rory535 08-04-2009 04:23 PM

Sorry the reply is so late. Anyway, I ended up using a mason mix Type S mortar. I had another wall where I knew I was only going to do certain patches and used Quikretes Quickwall product. I ended up only doing patches on both walls and in hindsight would have only used the Quickwall product. Much easier to work with and really strong. I originally went with the mason mix as I wanted the wall to "breathe", not block out any moisture as I was going to do the WHOLE wall. But only doing patches, I think I could have gone with using it.

To date, I have not noticed further moisture issues, but now I dont have plaster on the wall, so Im sure if there are, it breathes through. I have a Kilz primer on the wall, so it would also be difficult to see potential moisture issues, but I did wait months before applying it, to see if I noticed moisture seeping through and did not.

I also took steps to improve issues outside the house like sealing and more gutters etc.

stadry 08-05-2009 04:47 AM

apologies since i didn't see this thread til this am,,, afraid all your fine work's for naught :eek: that old ' stash & stella ' conc's so porous there isn't anything that'll work on the negative side,,, to manage the wtr, you need to do a perimeter excavation &, after allowing the fnd walls to dry, apply a trowel'd on waterproofing coating to the walls AND the footer down to the base of it,,, an effective wtr management system'd also include a ' toe drain ' leading either to daylight OR a sump from which the collect'd wtr's mechanically removed ( pump )

its not a ? of ' if the repairs'll fail ' but only ' WHEN ' ! ! ! thoro makes some fine products & we used them successfully for many yrs,,, however, selecting a good product & using it for an unapproved purpose negates any product effectiveness or warranty,,, kilz is also a good product when used properly unlike ' drylock ' type products which suck imo,,, we never found it to be permanent - even in MY house :censored: the wtrproofer was right ! ! !

4 rules of wtr: 1, it runs downhill; 2, takes the path of least resistance; takes the path of least resistance; & 4, rush's to fill a void,,, we could add a 5th - man is not meant to live underground UNLESS he 1st designs & builds for that occasion,,, in other words, no one can fit 5gal of wtr into 4gal bkts yet,,, i've found there's been no change over the yrs,,, the simplest solutions're still the best.

to address the ' 2 layers of mortar ' issue, its not uncommon to find that owners/workmen have, over the yrs, made improvements to the wall's appearance OR attempts to stop wtr,,, impo, that explains the parging.

stadry 08-05-2009 04:55 AM

on the bright side, this was a diy job so you didn't get ripp'd off & you've only work'd for less than min wage,,, the only thing hurt's some self-esteem - small price to pay & we've all done it ( me more than most it seems sometimes - as others, i'd like to have wtr run uphill :laughing: )

saw a tag line something to the effect ' measure twice, cut once, throw away & cut again ',,, more truth than many of us admit ! ! !

rory535 08-05-2009 08:41 AM

I appreciate the concern but so far things are working out. If they dont, I'll readress. I had 2 basement waterproofing companies come in and give me their assessments and suggestions. The one that took the most time in evaluating the home, the issues etc before making a recommendation, said excavating was an extreme measure and also warned of serious issues that can happen with foundations when excavating around an old home.

As I mentioned I have also addressed common issues with moisture in basements.....that being inadequate gutters, drainage etc.

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