Long before damp proofing systems were developed period properties retained a level of dryness through the process of evaporation. Moisture will inevitably have been drawn into the structure, however it was controlled and managed by careful material selection.
Period properties were generally constructed with lime mortars which are much more sympathetic to the building materials used during that time. Lime mortars and plasters themselves may not have prevented dampness, however they were breathable and therefore when moisture ingress occurred, this was freely able to evaporate, helping keep the moisture content of the structure dry and stable.
You can take a traditional approach to retaining a dry building and re-plastering with lime. There is a likelihood that over the years much of the original lime plaster has been removed and replaced with unsympathetic cementitious renders or gypsum plasters. In this circumstance removing the cement or gypsum plaster and reinstatement with lime maybe an option for you to consider.
Reverting to this past method does, however, require careful consideration as there are some disadvantages to this approach. Lime plasters are considered sacrificial and, in this scenario, moisture which wicks into the structure may evaporate through the plaster. As this occurs the movement of moisture can cause discolouration and surface salting. This would have to be accepted and tolerated. The use of lime plasters also limits the available choice of internal decorations, no more Laura Ashley wallpaper or Farrow and Ball paints, limewash only I'm afraid.
In the 20th century, with expensive modern finishes, any form of spoiling or salting is often intolerable. Understandably people desire the characteristics of old buildings with modern unspoiled interiors. In this sense it is often unsuitable to consider controlling dampness with breathable lime plasterers which may inevitably salt and discolour, but don't worry there are other alternatives.
Chemical free damp proofing systems are a method of providing a dry interior without using chemicals, electrical diodes or injected barriers. With our green systems there are no visible installation holes, as seen with chemical or electrical installations, or unsightly air bricks in the outer walls, which makes our system completely invisible once installed.
Our chemical free systems are ideal for historic buildings or properties constructed initially without damp proof courses allowing walls to breath naturally, promoting drying without changing the dynamics of the structure. Our systems encourage walls to breath naturally ensuring moisture is not trapped and reduces the risk of deterioration of the structure. Finishes are protected from residual moisture and the effects of salts and other contaminates.
With thoughtful design and correct material selection, we've engineered chemical free damp proofing solutions for many period and historic listed buildings that have been accepted by English Heritage, conservation trusts and councils throughout Yorkshire.
If you suspect a problem and require a survey, or want to find out more about our chemical free damp proofing systems, please contact us.