Microstructural characterization of consolidant products for historical renders: an innovative nanostructured lime dispersion and a more traditional ethyl silicate limewater solution

Microsc Microanal. 2012 Oct;18(5):1181-9. doi: 10.1017/S1431927612001341.


The conservation and durability of historical renders must be carried out through compatible techniques and materials. An important operation is the restitution of historical renders cohesion, turned friable by the loss of binder, usually due to physical and/or chemical actions. Surface consolidation is based on the use of materials with aggregating properties. This operation is reached usually through the application of organic or mineral consolidants, but inorganic consolidants are becoming preferred due to better compatibility and durability. In this article two mineral compatible consolidation products were studied: a commercial suspension of calcium hydroxide nanoparticles in propanol and a limewater dispersion of ethyl silicate. Microscopy (optical and scanning electron microscopy) and X-ray microanalyses of the consolidation products and of the consolidated mortar specimens were carried out. To assess the mechanical properties and product's efficacy, analyses of the compression, flexural strength, and superficial hardness were performed. Microscopy results show that limewater dispersion of ethyl silicate forms platelike silica gels, which can interfere in product penetration. Otherwise, nanolime particles permit homogeneous distribution and optimum penetration on the treated substrate, improving cementing action and the agglomeration process.