Mortar Matching vs. Matching Mortar

Welcome to AMR Labs.
Our focus is high quality masonry repair and the products and services needed to ensure the mortar repair is done right. Among these are mortar testing, mortar matching, pre-matched mortar mix, and other masonry repair products.

Call today for Mortar Matching and Analysis Services

We provide mortar matching services across the U.S.

(817) 366-8376

Send Mortar Samples for Testing and Matching

*AMR Labs*
1525 Corona Dr.
Granbury, TX 76048

Or email us:

Mortar Matching Service

Matching Mortar Color

Mortar matching is available in many forms, but not all methods of matching mortar will work for any project. This is especially true of the most commonly used method.

In the most common mortar matching method, there are assumptions made in matching the mortar type, sand color and gradation, and pigments, and the mortar is adjusted to provide a matching color only. This practice is unacceptable in the repair and restoration of masonry. Changing the mortar composition, mortar type, mortar formula, sand color, sand gradation, or the formula of sand to mix ratio also changes the compressive strength of mortar, color and texture of the mortar, and the ability of new mortar to bond with old mortar. This generally results in re-cracking of the mortar joints, chipping or spalling brick faces, and other damage to the masonry walls.

This is why you need to use more detailed mortar matching methods that include mortar analysis testing practices.

Testing/Matching Mortar Formula - Mortar Matching

Mortar testing provides a detailed mortar analysis for matching old mortar. This mortar matching test provides accurate usable data about the mortar and provides a detailed mortar formula for matching the original mortar mix tested from which the color can be adjusted to match as needed.

Custom Mortar Matching

Matching Mortar Type

Mortar matching is similar to our mortar test in some of the tests performed. In order to match the color of a mortar, we must match certain base materials used in the original mortar. To do this, we perform a compressive strength or crushing test. This gives us a general idea of the mortar type and ratio of binder materials.

Match Mortar Color

After we determine the proper amounts of binder materials, we proceed to match the base tones of the mortar. These tones are the range between white and grey, and levels of mold and mildew. These are the effects of sun light and moisture aging of the mortar. Most of this can be compensated, but some degree of mold and mildew must reform naturally.

Matching Brick Mortar Color/Pigments

The next portion in mortar matching is matching the color tones of stains and pigments. These tones are compared to our charts to find a close starting point in matching the color tones of the mortar.

Exact Mortar Match

After we have determined the mortar type, base tones, and color tones, we make a sample of mortar to test and confirm our results. Adjustments are made to the mortar match as needed until the mortar color is matched. Sometimes, many adjustments are needed and require multiple tests to perfect the color match.

Mortar Matching Cost/Procedure

The cost of Mortar Matching is $325.00 per set of mortars tested, or for a more precise formula with a testing report you can add a color match to our full mortar analysis for $150. This is commonly used for historic mortar matching. We need about a cup or 3-5 mortar samples for matching. Surface samples are best for getting a closer mortar match. Crumbling mortar samples are ok. We can still match them.

Testing and matching mortar color costs $325 separately, or you can add a color match to a full mortar analysis for $150

  1. Mortar Matching Test $325

  2. Add a color match to Mortar Composition Testing for $150.00


Historic Mortar Matching

Matching Historic Mortar Composition/Color

In commercial and historic mortar restoration, it is common place to get the mortar analyzed and matched through testing samples of the mortar. However, many of the testing methods are over priced and inaccurate. The two most common used or recommended testing methods for historic mortar analysis are the ASTM C-1324 and acid digestion method of testing hardened mortar. These two mortar testing analyses are the most and least expensive tests, but neither provide reliable results.

C-1324 is the most expensive type of historic mortar analysis which uses a spectrographic microscope to create a colorful image of the mortar sample. This image is then visually inspected and a best guess of proportions for the ratio is determined as the composition formula. There is a little more to it, but the accuracy of the results is limited to the interpretation of the analyst and their onsite experience as a mason. With their limited or likely non-existent experience in the field, they are unable to provide a quality interpretation of the testing data.

The acid digestion method for testing mortar composition is the least technical and least expensive mortar analysis, and is the most commonly used method for testing old mortar. Acid digestion analysis uses a balloon to capture the escaping gases released during analysis. The balloon swells and is measured to determine the quantity of the total binder materials. This test alone is not capable of accurate results because, the results are still an interpreted analysis of how much of the gas released is coming from each binder material. This factor alone is problematic because the sand aggregates tend to have a portion of cementious material that contaminates the results. Some sands used are entirely cementious materials. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

There is a better way to test the composition of mortar samples for historic mortar matching, and it is not much more expensive than the acid digestion test. This method is proprietary to AMR Labs and is becoming more excepted for this use due to the accuracy of the results. This testing method for matching mortar composition combines the results of some other astm testing methods such as the C-109 crushing analysis, acid digestion, E-11 sand sieve analysis, and some more scientific analyses where we collect additional data from some of these other testing methods for validations.

One example of this is the amount of weight loss during the digestion of mortar samples is cross referenced with the compressive strength and mortar type and using the specific gravity of the binder materials, we are able to validate the accuracy of the results. This is a limited example because there are other factors that change variables such as the size and shape of sand aggregates changes the compressive strength of the mortar as much as the ratio of sand to mix.

Matching Existing Mortar - Mortar Matching

Mortar matching through our complete mortar analysis and adding a detailed mortar color match provides a exact mortar formula for matching the existing mortar color and composition. With this complete formula, we can manufacture bags of custom matched mortar for your project. This is however limited to mortars using type S/SA lime as we currently do not have a supplier for the historic lime.

Historic Lime Mortar Matching

In the past, we provided the analysis report and the formula and Virginia Lime Works provided the manufacturing of the historic lime mortars. We have been told they are no longer around and we haven't found a suitable replacement as yet. Places we have found that may assist you if you need the historic lime mortar manufacturing are US Heritage Group and

Type S/SA and Historic Lime

One of the most common questions asked is the difference between historic lime and type S/SA lime in mortar. The simple answer is they are both lime, but the historic lime mortar uses a larger particle size and was sometimes not screened allowing large chunks to be mixed into the mortar. This is easily recognized by the large unmixed pieces of lime. Those that were screened are a little harder to identify, but the type S/SA lime uses a very fine screen, and tend to be used in harder mortar types and newer mortar more often. If your mortar requires type S/SA lime, we can provide the manufacturing of custom bags of pre-matched mortar.

Pre-Matched Mortar

Pre-matched mortars are bags of mortar custom made to match the existing hardened mortar of your masonry repair. These bags are made using the formula from the mortar matching test.

  1. Each box contains 2 bags of mortar.


Other Mortar Repair Products

We provide a brick repair guide and training videos to assist you in completing your masonry repairs.

Local Masonry Repair Companies that Offer Mortar Matching Services

We can help you find a local masonry repair contractor in:

Brick Repair Dallas, Fort Worth, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, NRH, Benbrook, Crowley, Burleson, Cleburne, Tarrant County, and Granbury

Mortar Testing and Matching Services

Below are the before and after pictures of a project where the old repairs are smeared and used mis-matched mortar, and in the after photo, mortar smears are cleaned off the bricks and the mortar is repaired with matching mortar. You will notice the second picture looks darker. This is because the wall is wet from cleaning and the pictures were taken the same day. The first in the morning with more direct light and the second in the late afternoon when the sun was on the other side of the building.

As you can see, masonry repairs look much better when the mortar is tested and properly matched with our mortar matching services.

Before Mortar Matching Services After Mortar Matching Services