Binder characteristics of historic mortars: the benefits of image-related microanalysis

Prof Johannes Weber

Techniques of microscopy have long been established as important tools for investigating historic mortars. However, do we always make the best use of all available techniques? How can we use light microscopy, SEM and other imaging methods of analysis to obtain the maximum amount of information on the type of binders and the composition of mortars? By illustrating the potential and limitations of binder analysis using thin section microscopy and SEM on a selection of mortars from antiquity to the present, the presentation aims at encouraging mortar analysts to exploit relatively simple methods at the highest possible standards.

Analysed sample of a rough plaster from the façade of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Ljubljana, designed by the famous Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik.