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Color me Rusty: Colors/Dyes/Tints in Masonry

Mortar Color Sample Kit Used for color matching tuckpointing

Coloring/Dying/Tinting mortar is no new thing, it's been around quite a while. It's older than me even, and I am 32 1/2 years old.  That's old for a Mason.

Coloring mortar is a practice nearly as old as mortar itself. From Red to Green, Yellow to Black and Brown and others in between, Colors are available in nearly every color family. The methods for coloring mortar are many and more.

Mortar is typically colored to compliment surrounding masonry units (Brick, Block & Stone) Colors are used in many aspects of masonry including new construction, color matching surrounding mortar in spot tuckpointing, complete tuckpointing to entirely change the mortar color & historic restorations.  Note: Mortar without color added is generally going to be some shade of grey or grey-white and is referred to as Natural Mortar. 

Mortar has 3 basic ingredients: 1.) Portland Cement, 2.) Lime and 3.) Sand/aggregate. Choosing a white or grey Portland cement with various colors of sand will yield many colors. The amount of sand and size of the grains will produce different color too.

Adding color to the mix: Beyond changing up the basic ingredients, pigment can be added to the mortar mix. Int the past, Pigments for a variety of colors have been used from a variety of things, including pitch for black. Yuck. 

How is mortar colored nowadays, ya say? I'm glad you ask, though I would've told ya anyway.

Rust. (Did I hear that right? Rust?) Firstly, ya didn't hear anything, ya read it. Secondly, yep, RUST. That orangish, reddish, sometimes down right deep brownish powder that coats rarely used and neglected metally things. Rusts are the best pigments for mortar. The most common form of rust is oxidized iron or steel. Other metals oxidize all the same, producing a variety of dust colors. Then those colors can be mixed to make even more colors. 

I'm simplifying the situation, of course, but I'm just a Mason, not a scientist. Odds are, you aren't a scientist either, If you ARE a scientist, or just a well-read dude or dudette looking to know more, lemme point you to some more detailed, larger words about the topic from the industry leader in masonry colors. Solomon Colors Inc.

Solomon Mortar Colors has Research and Development as it's core focus. They have been in the industry for nearly 100 years. Solomon produces the finest mortar colors I've ever used. Their colors are consistent, durable and easy to use.

(Where can I buy some of that rust dust?)

You're on the right site, wrong page!  GO HERE

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