Stonemasonry is undoubtedly one of the oldest trades on the planet; with examples dating back almost as far as evidence of civilisation can be traced.
With countless examples of incredible stonework found throughout history, it is little wonder that the craft is still prominent today. Modern times have caused stonemasonry to evolve as new tools become available and demand has shifted focus.
Whilst there is still the need for more large scale building projects, stonemasonry now has a whole range of intricate, smaller applications of the trade.
There are a whole variety of intricately designed special purpose walls that can be erected for domestic purposes, such as bars, pools and feature walls. There are however smaller applications such as water features, fire pits and garden ornaments.
All of these types of stonemasonry are very detailed and intricate work that seasoned professionals have spent years learning how to achieve. As such, if you have the need of stonework, aside from the most basic things, you better know where to look for the professionals.
There is another kind of work that some stonemasons excel at, and that is restoring and reinvigorating aged and damaged stonework. One of the most susceptible of these is limestone due to its natural habit of eroding over time due to the elements.
Limestone was historically used as mortar before the invention of cement, but it was not known how easily it can erode at the time, and no alternatives were really available. As such, there are many glorious historic buildings that are slowly having their brickwork eaten away and would face collapse if nothing is done to save them.
The limestone brickwork and mortar need to be carefully treated and preserved whilst any damage and erosion require replacing with a suitable modern counterpart.
There is a temptation to simply fill any eroded mortar with cement and seemingly stop the problem there; unfortunately, cement is one of the worst things you can use with limestone as it is guaranteed to actually speed up the erosion of the remaining mortar and possible surrounding bricks by up to 100%.
The best solution is to use traditional limestone mortars, with some modern improvements, to repair any damage. The downside is that these are almost exclusively manufactured in Europe, as the demand is far greater there considering the volume of historic limestone buildings is significantly greater.
However, a solution is at hand. There are a few stonemasons in Australia that import these mortars directly from the European manufacturers and are experts in repairing limestone.
The most important thing to take away from this is that limestone buildings need protecting, so if you or anyone you know is looking at undertaking any repair work to one, please consult the experts first.