Protecting stone buildings from weathering and decay is a major challenge in the conservation of built heritage. Most of the stone consolidants currently available are well suited to silicate stones, but are less compatible with limestone. In this paper we present for the first time the results over a 4-year period of various consolidation treatments carried out using nanolime on 6 of the most representative and significant stones used in historic buildings in the United Kingdom. Tests investigated the influence of stone type, environmental conditions and pre-treatments on the effectiveness of the consolidation treatment. A comprehensive and rigorous testing programme was carried out to evaluate the short (12 weeks) and longer-term (4 years) effects. Stone samples were characterised before and after treatment using light and electron microscopy, sorptivity tests and a novel methodology employing drilling resistance to interrogate the near surface effects. Results show that for some of the stones, such as Clunch and Bath Stone, the positive effect of the treatment with nanolime is noticeable after 4 years since application. However, results for other stones such as Portland and magnesian limestone showed that the initial beneficial effect of the treatment is reduced after 4 years. Nanolime treatment of Ham Stone produced an unnoticeable effect on the continuous natural reduction of the drilling resistance of the specimen over time. The results presented are of immense value to conservators as they provide essential guidance on the most appropriate repair approach. Impact to the conservation industry will be to avoid the use of nanolime on stones where there is no perceivable benefit, reducing the risk of adverse effects, including potential damage to buildings. In additional costs will be saved which might otherwise have been spent on ineffective treatments.
Keywords: consolidation; drilling resistance; limestone; nanolime.