What is Mortar? Types, Use, Properties of Good Mortar

What is Mortar?

Mortar is a bonding agent which is generally produced by mixing cementing or binding material (lime or cement) and fine aggregate (sand, surki, sawdust, etc.) with water. Mortar is used to bind different building blocks like bricks, stones, etc. It can also add a decorative pattern in brick or stone masonry. Mortar is being used from the dawn of civilization. 2000 years ago, the Egyptians used lime mortars.

Types of Mortar

Mortar is produced by mixing a binding material (cement or lime) with fine aggregate (sand, surki, etc.) with water. For construction purposes, different types of mortar are used. Depending upon the materials used for mortar mixture preparation, the mortar could be classified as follows.

  1. Cement Mortar
  2. Lime Mortar
  3. Surki Mortar
  4. Gauged Mortar
  5. Mud Mortar

1. Cement Mortar

Cement Mortar is a type of mortar where cement is used as binding material and sand is used as fine aggregate. Depending upon the desired strength, the cement to the sand proportion of cement mortar varies from 1:2 to 1:6.

2. Lime Mortar

Gauged Mortar is a type of mortar where cement and lime both are used as binding material and sand is used as fine aggregate. Basically, it is a lime mortar where cement is added to gain higher strength. The process is known as gauging. The cement to the lime proportion varies from 1:6 to 1:9. Gauged mortar is more economical than cement concrete and also possesses higher strength than lime mortar.

4. Surki Mortar

Surki mortar is a type of mortar where lime is used as binding material and surki is used as fine aggregate. Surki mortar is economic.

5. Mud Mortar

Mud mortar is a type of mortar where mud is used as binding material and sawdust, rice husk or cow dung is used as fine aggregate. Mud mortar is useful where lime or cement is not available.

Properties of Good Mortar

While usage of binders depends on the applicability and purpose, the properties of good mortar are:

1. Adhesive

The primary purpose of mortars is to bind building blocks like bricks, tiles, etc. Therefore, adhesiveness is a very crucial property of mortars.


2. Water-proof

Good mortars are water-resistant to withstand rainy weather conditions.


3. Durability

One of the most significant qualities of any architectural construction is its ability to last for long durations without much wear and tear. Therefore, the mortar should be of premium quality to withstand any adversity.


4. Usability

The mortar should be easy to use and work with.


 5. Crack resistant

Mortar, when exposed to high pressure or temperature variations, could lead to being deformed easily. Consequently, the tiles or building surfaces could develop cracks. Hence, good-quality mortar would ensure sturdy joints and grips for longer durations.

Uses of Mortar

 1. Binding Agent

The primary function of mortar is to bind bricks or stones together.

2. Resistance

Mortar ensures resistance and strength against adverse weather conditions and other agencies (chemical attacks, loud sound, etc.)

3. Joint fill-ups

Thin mortar assists in filling up joints and spaces between tiles or bricks.