Drying Out a Traditional Building

You have carried out the repairs to your traditional stone property, replaced the cement with lime, fixed the roof and gutters. How long will it take the structure of the building to dry out ?

The answer – a long time !

When a two foot thick stone wall gets saturated, it will hold a lot of water. You may have free water, which is trapped in pockets within the wall, this should have been drain out during the works if you had proper stonemasons involved. There is also trapped water that has been absorbed into the stone through its the pore structure.

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Lime repair to a traditional stone cottage MAAC Studio conservation architect inverness edinburgh

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Now that you wall is restored with lime pointing, it can breathe again, and the wall will start to dry, but water trapped in the stone will take longer to migrate out. Even though the wall surfaces may be dry to the touch, the moisture is there. If you look closely at the photograph below, you can see the mortar is still darker where the wall was saturated after many months. 

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Drying out a traditional stone wall MAAC Studio conservation architect inverness edinburgh

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Compare the photograph above, to the one below. You can see immediately the impact that cement pointing has had. The dampness is trapped and has to evaporate through the stone while the mortar remains dry. This accelerates stone erosion. To protect the fabric of the wall and allow it to dry properly the situation needs to be reversed, with dry stonework and moisture evaporating through the mortar.

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It can take two or even three years before the wall is fully dry, depending on the type of stone and construction. 

This week we are on site with Tony Carter of Keim Paints, carrying out an assessment of a building that was restored and has been left unpainted while the walls were allowed to dry out. Moisture levels are falling but its still too early. Keim produce specialist mineral paints that diferent to regular paint you might buy off the shelf. It is far more breathable.

Even though the wall surfaces may be dry to the touch, the moisture is there. If you try to paint the walls too early, the paint will dust off and you will be left with a patchy finish.

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It can take two or even three years before the wall is fully dry, depending on the type of stone and construction.

Once it is dry, you will enjoy all the benefits of a breathing, natural wall that is much warmer than it was before. You have to be patient.In the meantime, make sure that you maintain your property to ensure they don’t get saturated again in the future.

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MAAC studio are accredited conservation architects and principal designers working with traditional buildings throughout Scotland. 

If you need independent advice give us a call ?