There is More to Mortar than Mud

July 29, 2018



An overview of what it is, how to mix it, where to use it, and what to add

Mortar is used to hold together building materials like brick, block, or stone. Plus, it helps provide structural support. It can also be used to build walls, planters, and chimneys or to repair existing mortar joints. Let’s break down exactly what mortar is and how to use it for your next project.


What is mortar?

Mortar is an easy mix you can find in your local home improvement or hardware store, which can be applied with a trowel. Mortar mix, combined with water, creates a strong adhesive perfect for outdoor projects and vertical applications.

Mortar types vary depending on the strength at which they yield. A common mistake for many is understanding when to use each type. Sakrete Type Mortar/Stucco Mix is a safe bet for many projects because of its strength and ability to be used both for above and below-grade applications. Type S is commonly used for new construction and many repairs. That could mean building a new outdoor kitchen or parging an existing masonry substrate. Sakrete Type N Mortar Mix is only meant to be used for above-grade applications. Using Type N is also common for the installation of block or brick and for above grade stucco where a weaker material is needed.

There are two different kinds of mortar mix. Combining portland cement, lime and mason sand is the traditional way to create a mortar. You can also mix masonry cement and mason sand together to create a comparable mortar mix. Depending on your project, the preferred compressive strength and water retention needed will determine which mortar you need to use.


How do you use mortar?

Laying brick, blocks or stone is the most common use of mortar. You can build a wall, planter or chimney by using a Type S Mortar Mix. Use a trowel to place a mortar bed on a foundation to begin your project. Caution should be taken to assure you have full coverage. Start laying your materials to create a wall. Use mortar on each end of the brick or block to secure it to the material laid previously.

Throughout the process, check to see if your brick, block or stone is level to ensure a durable wall. Once the materials have been laid and the mortar is in place, strike off the mortar when thumbprint hard using a jointing tool. This will create a smooth finish for your project.

To set and grout artificial stone and natural stone veneers, Sakrete Stone Veneer Mortar can be used. On a solid wall, including masonry units or poured concrete, use stone veneer mortar mix to create a natural, rustic look to the interior or exterior projects.

You can use Sakrete Glass Block Mortar Mix to lay decorative, glass block walls. Glass block mortar is a mixture of white cement, lime, sand, and additives. It’s designed to provide a white water-resistant mortar for both interior and exterior use.


—This video is provided by Sakrete, one of ProTradeCraft's advertisers. A leader in concrete and concrete-related products for 80 years, Sakrete led the way for premixed bagged concrete and was the first company to provide concrete specified for strength, not proportion, which continues today. View all of Sakrete's content