Media Centre
Media Centre

23 October 2008

Adding value for customers through Mortar advice

Mortar is the glue in any building and is one of the many product lines that can be sourced at builders' merchants. Steve Crompton, Technical Director for Readymix and Mortars at building materials supplier, CEMEX UK, highlights a few of the essential areas to consider when it comes to servicing mortar requirements for the small end builder, and help merchants add real value to their ongoing relationships.

With any building project there are many factors to consider. From the design-led issues of overall construction, down to the smallest finishing details. Builders can often seek the advice of their merchant suppliers and their questions can be related to any number of issues across numerous products.

To guarantee a good service and repeat visits by the customer, the merchant needs to match and, indeed, exceed customer expectations in terms of service. Choosing the right mortar for the job seems to be straightforward but there are a number of logistical, aesthetic and technical areas that are worth considering.

The options will often be the choice of the builder, which may be influenced by the merchant. The most basic consideration is the amount and type of brick or block work being used which will determine the type of mortar and the subsequent mortar specification ie the strength.

Mortar Strength

The mortar choice will be based on several factors including the bricklayers' preference and the application.. Is it for above ground or below damp proof course level usage? What is the strength requirement to ensure the structural integrity and load bearing of the design? Are there a number of courses and joint profiling in the design?

All these issues will influence mortar choice and specification.

As a rule, in terms of strength, class one and two strength mortars are specified for below groundwork, often with semi engineering bricks that are very dense and inherently strong.

Class three and four will be chosen for work above ground level which tends to utilise softer materials such as the common brick or other products such as thermalite blocks.


In addition to routine product ordering, the small-end builder may want assistance with the 'how' of a job. Whilst most construction projects will involve mixing on site, in some instances it may be beneficial to consider offering delivery of small quantities of ready spread which can be supplied as class three strength mortar ready mixed and available in disposable bags.

Many companies including CEMEX will take orders for as little as just one tub of a ready spread mix which will, for instance, provide enough material to lay up to 350 bricks.

Such a service can be extremely convenient for the builder who is struggling to find room for an on-site mixer set-up. Merchants can help in this regard by pointing out the availability of this service and undertaking the ordering on behalf of the builder, some of whom may be unaware that such solutions exist for smaller scale projects.

Mortar colouring matching

Another mortar area in which the merchant can add value is that of mortar colour matching. On projects such as adding an extension, or constructing a conservatory at an existing plot, matching the mortar colour already in situ can become an important element for the builder and, ultimately, the end client's satisfaction with the finished job.

Again, a number of companies, including CEMEX, can offer a comprehensive mortar colour matching service which can be accessed via merchants, thereby allowing them to take their relationship beyond just supplying product and into guidance, sourcing and eventual solution.

There are now a significant number of bespoke coloured mortars available to suit all types of projects and the builders' merchant can add real value in this process.

Specialist products

Finally, merchants can help around the sourcing of more specialist products used in traditional mortar, such as the provision of limesand.

Such products can be purchased and delivered to site in up to seven tonne skips and can help satisfy the builder who wishes to mix on-site and is confident of succeeding when it comes to achieving a more natural colour match where such raw materials are used.

The merchant can act as the conduit between manufacturer and builder to ascertain what is required for a specific smaller-end project and achieve the solution for the customer. From supplier to customer via the merchant.

Mortar requirements for the small-end builder can, in their own way, present similar sorts of technical, logistical and aesthetic challenges as some of the biggest construction projects. It is just the scale that is different. Small-end builders can now benefit from the range of mortar solutions that exist, and whether they need help in delivery, sourcing or simply securing the correct raw materials they need, the builders’ merchant can play a pivotal role and ensure his customer returns time and time again.


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