If you've visited our section on insulating solid-wall buildings, you'll have seen that lime is a perfect partner for these properties.

Lime draws out moisture from your walls, actively working to keep them dry, which protects them from degrading over time.

In almost all circumstances, traditionally-built stone homes and cement should never meet. Cement render on an outside wall, for example, does the opposite to what a stone wall needs. It traps moisture in the wall instead of letting the wall release it.

Over time, water gets in behind little cracks in cement render, and can degrade stone. We’ve seen for ourselves how the softer red Cumbrian sandstones have broken down to handfuls of sand behind cement render.

Avoid cement pointing, too. The stone is much more breathable than the cement pointing, so your wall will dry out through the stones rather than the pointing. This leaves behind salts in the stone, which can damage it over time. Think of the lime pointing as sacrificial to the stone… it will need redoing eventually, but it will have done its job of protecting the stone.

Lime skills

Lime is the perfect partner for your stone walls, but it must be applied correctly. It’s pretty straightforward once you have the right skills, and any experienced builder or skilled householder can gain the know-how.

Unfortunately, some builders and homeowners steer away from using lime, usually because there’s a perception it’s hard to use, costly, or because they’ve heard about cases where it has gone wrong. This is usually because it hasn’t been done in the right way. If the wrong type of lime is used, or if it’s not mixed and applied in the right way, it can crack or come away from your walls. There’s also a perception that it’s hard to use or costs a lot. Home owners who are retrofitting old properties have often told us their builder advised against using lime.

The good news is that traditional lime skills are starting to make a come-back in Cumbria – perhaps as more home owners experience the problems that modern materials like cement can cause in older buildings. There are a few firms in the county that specialise in lime and we feel there’s a huge niche for more builders to gain these skills and make older buildings warm, cosy places to live while protecting them for the future.

Suppliers of lime products and lime builders

We’re creating a new supplier directory and it will include suppliers of lime products and specialist lime builders. For now, for lime products in Cumbria we suggest contacting Tim Wells at Eden Hot Lime Mortar.

For specialist lime builders, please contact Chris Morphet at Lake District Lime on 07554 019469.