Sand and Mortar in Construction

Sand Cement MortarMortar is an intimate mixture of binding material, fine aggregate and water. When water is added to the dry mixture of binding material and the inert material, binding material develops the property that binds not only the inert material but also the surrounding stones and bricks. If the cement is the binding material, then the mortar is known as cement mortar. Other mortars commonly used are lime mortar and mud mortar. The inert material used is sand. In this chapter, first an introduction is given to the inert material sand and then the proportioning, mixing, curing, properties and uses of different mortars is explained. At the end of the chapter various tests conducted on mortars is presented.

Sand is a natural product which is obtained as river sand, nalla sand and pit sand. However sea sand should not be used for the following reasons:

1. It contains salt and hence structure will remain damp. The mortar is affected by efflorescence and blisters appear.
2. It contains shells and other organic matter, which decompose after some time, reducing the life of the mortar.

Sand may be obtained artificially by crushing hard stones. Usually artificial sand is obtained as a by-product while crushing stones to get jelly (coarse aggregate). Sand is used in mortar and concrete for the following purpose:

1. It sub-divides the paste of binding material into thin films and allows it to adhere and spread.
2. It fills up the gap between the building blocks and spreads the binding material.
3. It adds to the density of the mortar.
4. It prevents the shrinkage of the cementing material.
5. It allows carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to reach some depth and thereby improve setting power.
6. The cost of cementing material per unit volume is reduced as this low cost material increases the volume of mortar.
7. Silica of sand contributes to formation of silicates resulting into the hardened mass.

The properties of good sand are:

1. It should be chemically inert.
2. It should be free from organic or vegetable matter.
3. It should be free from salt.
4. It should contain sharp, angular and coarse grains.
5. It should be well graded.
6. It should be hard.