CHAP. 55.—DEFECTS IN BUILDING. PLASTERS FOR WALLS.
The great cause of the fall of so many buildings in our City, is,
that through a fraudulent abstraction of the lime, the rough
work is laid without anything to hold it together. The
older, too, the mortar is, the better it is in quality. In the
ancient laws for the regulation of building, no contractor was
to use mortar less than three months old; hence it is, that no
cracks have disfigured the plaster coatings of their walls.
These stuccos will never present a sufficiently bright surface,
unless there have been three layers of sanded mortar, and two
mortar upon that. In damp localities and places
subject to exhalations from the sea, it is the best plan to substitute
ground earthenware mortar for sanded mortar. In
Greece, it is the practice, first to pound the lime and sand used
for plastering, with wooden pestles in a large trough. The test
by which it is known that marbled mortar has been properly
blended, is its not adhering to the trowel; whereas, if it is
only wanted for white-washing, the lime, after being well
slaked with water, should stick like glue. For this last
purpose, however, the lime should only be slaked in lumps.
At Elis, there is a Temple of Minerva, which was pargetted,
they say, by Panænus, the brother of Phidias, with a mortar
that was blended with milk and saffron:2
hence it is, that,
even at the present day, when rubbed with spittle on the
finger, it yields the smell and flavour of saffron.