Concrete basics for building: Mortar and Plaster

Mortar binds bricks and blocks together to give strength and stability to a wall. Sand-cement plaster is used as a decorative or protective coating to concrete, masonry walls and concrete ceilings.

In both cases, what we have said about concrete applies equally to mortar and plaster, but there are some special factors you should take into account.

Freshly mixed mortar must be soft and plastic so that it spreads easily and makes good contact. A brick should be easily pushed down to level by hand pressure. Too strong a mortar may crack and is more expensive.

Freshly mixed plaster must be workable and cohesive, i.e. it must be plastic and have good water retention.

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Nominal Mix Proportioning

Mixes are proportioned by combining cement, sand and stone in a volume ratio that is appropriate to a broad strength category. Water is added to the mixture until workability, judged by eye, is satisfactory. This approach ignores differences between specific cements and aggregates.

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Conventional architectural applications of plaster for home building

Requirements

In a fresh state, plaster must be workable and cohesive, in other words, it must be plastic and have good water retention.

In a hardened state, plaster must be strong enough to withstand local impact and abrasion, and it must be able to hold paint. It must also be free of cracking, well-bonded to the substrate, and have an acceptable surface texture and surface accuracy.

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Causes of damp in home buildings

In simple terms damp problems are caused by poorly installed waterproofing or damp proofing in the required areas or a lack thereof, which allows water to rise from ground or penetration from rain water which can be seen on walls above foundation levels, floors, walls just below ceilings and ceiling surfaces.

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Everything you need to know about heat pumps

In an environment that is fast running out of non-renewable resources, and with Eskom’s load shedding threats hovering over our households, saving energy should be a key consideration in eco building and sustainable home building. Furthermore, with the National Building Regulation now stating that all new homes must meet the maximum energy demands as set out in the regulations, homes will be forced to start using alternative methods to heat their water. In line with these factors, Home Inspirations explains the in and outs of heat pumps, allowing home owners to make informed decisions when it comes to their water heating needs.

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Solar alternative water heating method

We live in an age where the non-renewable resources on which we rely so much are fast depleting. We have Eskom’s load shedding threats hovering over our households. And the National Building Regulation now states that energy usage in new home is restricted. As a result, saving energy should be a key consideration in eco building and sustainable home building. Fix Shack explains the in and outs of solar water heating, allowing home owners to make informed decisions when it comes to their water heating needs.

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Concrete basics for building: Concrete

Now you are ready to start mixing… and placing, compacting and finishing the concrete – all of which are very important in ensuring that you produce good quality concrete.

This applies to concrete cast in place, as well as to concrete for precast items such as decorative stepping stones, concrete sleepers, birdbaths and garden ornaments.

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Concrete basics for building: Concrete floors for domestic applications

We expect concrete floors to last for many years, despite heavy loads and hard wear.

Pay special attention to foundation material, the thickness of the slab and the strength of the mix, and provide joints to allow for contraction. And cure the slab well. This, as well as proper batching, mixing, transporting, placing and curing will ensure that high quality is built in at the outset and that future trouble and costly maintenance will be avoided.

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Windows and heat loss

Windows have a considerable impact on a building’s energy use, because glass is significantly affected by solar radiation and airflow, outside and indoor temperatures, wind and occupant use. As a result, it is important for the window industry to understand how energy efficient a window is by measuring its thermal transmission, known as its U-factor. The U-factor is simply described as the rate of heat transfer through a window. The lower the U-factor, the lower the heat loss, and the better the window will insulate a building.

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Everything you need to know about circuit breakers

Electrical contractors and builders, do you know how circuit breakers work?

Circuit breakers are an essential element of modern homes because of the safety they provide. These devices are automatically-operated electrical switches which have been designed to protect your electric circuits from damage due to an overload or a short circuit. A circuit breaker identifies a fault and then interrupts the flow of current in order to avoid overheating appliance wires, and possibly causing a fire.

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