Type S Masonary Mortar

mitchcarnieJuly 4, 2007

I was just wondering if this mortar is the preferred substance for affixing stone coping to a pool. Mine is two years old and is eroding. My rock guy says he can resurface it, but I don't want to be in the same boat in another two years. Isn't there any stronger mortar, cement, etc. to keep the stones in place? What did everyone else use. This is a salt water pool. The other areas that are not exposed to constant moisture are in much better shape.

Below are pictures of what I am talking about. As you can see from the photos the mortar is eroding. In some spots the sides of the rocks are exposed. Any ideas?

Also, is there some sturdier material that can go over the top of the type s mortar or does the old mortar need to be chipped out?


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Any builders have this problem with salt water pools? I just talked to a guy that sealed all of his grout and mortar before adding water to the pool. Would a sealer help? Anyone have any ideas on this one?

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 6:37PM
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Hi Mitch,

there's talk about how some materials are less salt-friendly than others. (try troublefreepool.com for one)

from what little i've read, sealing your natural stone and mortar is the SMART thing to do with salt systems (and in my very non-experienced opinion, the smarter thing to do with any material that you can stand sealer on...)

I'll be sealing my bricks and mortar shortly after installed, and plan to keep it sealed... I've got a few samples of flat and gloss sealer that I'm testing right now on a few bricks.

Wide open to suggestions to GOOD sealers.

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 10:54PM
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Any stone masons out there?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:22AM
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Any PB out there or Masons? What do you use for grout on stone coping?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 12:24AM
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Rack Etear

We Typically use masons sand and cement in a 3:2 ratio. Then add tint as desired.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2007 at 11:11AM
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What type of cement do you use racket?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:08PM
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Rack Etear

Portland Cement.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:18PM
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The main difference between normal portland or type "G" and masonry cement or type "S" is that type "S" contains lime.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:26PM
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Sorry, I type too fast, normal portland is type "GU", used to be called type 10

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:31PM
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Kind of embarrassed here, LOL, trying to think more clearly, I think those cement designations may be only here in Canada. Different in the States. Sorry.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:40PM
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Thanks cascade and racket. I', still a little confused though. Looking on the bag the rock guy left it is Sakcrete brand and contains portland cement, sand and lime. Says to just add water on directions. Is this what you use too- the premade stuff, or do you mix up your own batch of portland cement and mason's sand? If you mix your own, is it stronger that way? I read one post that said you should use hydralic cement and sand in water areas. What do both of you think?

Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 11:12PM
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Are you dealing with stones that have come loose or just the grout? I suspect the bagged material you have is mortar, not grout.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 12:38AM
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Rack Etear

The lime will get it to stick, but doesnt like moisture very well.

Mixing mason's sand and portland cement has worked fine for us for a very long time.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 3:16AM
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I am dealing with just loose grout. The bag I have is mortar, cascade. Thanks both cascade and racket for your time. I will take your advice and fix it using the mason's sand and portland cement, racket. I bet you are both right about the lime and water since the same mortar is used on other areas of the patio and it has held up well, just not the type s mortar continually in contact with the water from splashing.

Do either of you think I can just go over the top of the type s mortar with the portland cement and sand mixture after I chip out the loose material? Will it adhere? I will match the color of course. What about a sealer? I do have a salt water pool, does that make a difference?

I had 26 out of 30 kids from my 5th grade class come over for a swim party on Friday as a reward for winning an environmental award. When they were done I had some more mortar clumps at the bottom of the pool and black mortar sand all over the bottom of the pool. The pool vac is still picking up black mortar. Fortunately this is just a cosmetic thing, however I would like to keep the pool looking nice for a long time if possible. The kids loved swimming and even though school has been out for 6 weeks almost all of the kids came. What kid can resist swimming on a hot summer day.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 7:20AM
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From what I see, you don't have an expansion joint between the stone on top of the bond beam and the stone of the deck. Your problem will repeat itself if you remortar. The main cause is the deck and the pool expand at different rates. There needs to be a mortarless space, filled with sand and sealed with self leveling caulk (comes in many colors). The self leveling caulk will last several years (about 5 usually) and then needs to be reapplied.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 11:03AM
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Thanks for your imput poolguynj. However in my last picture above it you look at the picture from left to right you will see rock(pool side), then the expansion joint with caulking and covered with sand, then the decking(sunset rose colored). I know it is hard to see with the pools of just the coping. Is this the joint your are talking about or am I missing something? What do you use on your rock coping jobs for grout? Do you recommend a sealer?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 2:36PM
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The reason I asked is that often when you see grout failing in that way it is because the stones themselves have become loose.
Remove the loose grout and tap on the stones to ensure that they are still firmly affixed to the slab below. Assuming that they are mix up some grout as racket suggested and re-grout as necessary. Sealing will help to preserve the stonework.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 5:34PM
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Thanks cascade. When you say tap on the stone am I looking for movement or a hollow sound?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 10:01PM
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Rack Etear

I saw the sanded expansion join also, but no expansion joint failures look far different than the grout degredation/errosion than we see here.

Most of the time when you sound out a stone deck it will sound hollow.

I would just regrout, because it's so easy to do, then if you have a problem again in the future, then deal w/ resetting stones. Unless you can physically move/remove them, I wouldnt worry about them at this point.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 10:17PM
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Feeling movement is bad, hearing a hollow sound indicates possible future problems. In my area, where we get mild freeze/thaw conditions, mica slates like you seem to have are notorious for coming loose.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 10:25PM
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Thanks for the imput cascade and racket. We did have a bad freeze this winter even for Northern California standards with temps in the 30's for a week. I will take your advice and it will look better than new. I may even get the rock guy I originally hired to do it. However if I do, he will need to use portland cement and mason's sand - hold the lime except on the margarita.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 1:14AM
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As someone mentioned, there is some thought now that saltwater may be contriobuting to these kinds of problems. The theory is that the water wets the stone or concrete or, in your case, grout and obviously carry's the slat in with it. When the water evaporates, it leaves the salt which expands as it re-crystallizes. The expanding salt then bursts the microscopic hole or fissure that allowed it in. If the theory is right, sealing the stone will probably help as will frequently rinsing it off with fresh water.

The below link is to a pool repair guy's anti-SWG blog. It's directed toward industry folks but I think it's good for anyone with an SWG (or salted pool) and those considering one. It's interesting if nothing else.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Pool Guy

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 12:56PM
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Thanks Kurtv,

I agree that changing the type of grout won't solve all my problems as evidenced by the same type of grout holding up well in non water areas and the white deposits on the coping. I will have to remember to hose it off well especially after large pool parties. Does anyone have a recommendation for a sealer brand that holds up well with salt water yet?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 2:00PM
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