Plasticiser in mortar - Fairy Liquid OK?

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by diymostthings, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. diymostthings

    diymostthings Well-Known Member

    I'm going to have a go at building a simple single leaf brick wall across the front boundary of our house. I have Googled and read up so am fairly confident of success. One question has eluded me though: "Can you use fairy liquid as a substitute for plasticiser in bricklaying mortar"? I spoke to a jobbing builder about this as he was squirting in a generous portion of FL into his mixer and he said the proprietory plasticisers were a waste of money. I must say his mortar was lovely and fluid but I wonder about the longer term effects.
  2. Mr. Handyandy

    Mr. Handyandy Screwfix Select

    A quick squirt of FL in your mix can be ok for an emergency, and maybe where strength and appearance aren't crucial, but watch out. It can go salty(white/crystalline), and might make the mix dry sandy(not hard).

    For anything other than an emergency, use the proper stuff. Febmix is well-known.

    Mr. HandyAndy - really
  3. yorkshireboy

    yorkshireboy Member

    I wouldn,t use any plasticiser for a bricklaying mix.
  4. brickiepete

    brickiepete New Member

    im a bricklayer and have trained for 4 years and won a national trophy in golden trowel award, i would strongly advise you not to use fairy up liquid in your mortar mix. as what happens is it creates air bubbles and what happens these air bubbles in the winter get water in them and then the water freezes and over time cracking will appear. it is a very amateurish way of mixing mortar, travis Perkins do a pasteurizes which i fill is the best out there and very good price.hope i helped good luck with your wall mate
  5. diymostthings

    diymostthings Well-Known Member

    Thanks very much for all those helpful comments. I will definitely NOT use FL but will look at the TP proper stuff.

    Now I'm really confident..!
  6. buildrite

    buildrite New Member

    I also won apprentice of the year,golden trowel award and entered various speed competitions nationwide.

    I've been bricklaying now for 30 years and was also a part time lecturer in brickwork.

    I have successfuly built hundreds of extensions and small housing projects and nearly every one was built using "Fairy liquid".

    Indeed,my own 6 bedroom home has been standing for 20 years and the mortar is as good as the day it was mixed,so, in practise,there are no detrimental issues AT ALL using this wonderful product :)
  7. HOTDOG ø

    HOTDOG ø Active Member

    FL is very corrosive when in contact with steel.
  8. gardm1nt

    gardm1nt New Member

    The problem with FL is it has surfactants in it designed for cutting grease etc plascticiser does not.
  9. ­

    ­ New Member

    Another difference is that a proper plasticiser has a limited amount of air entraining ability so that leaving the mix turning too long has no detrimental effect on the mortar.

    But overmix using Fairey and the mix becomes a foamy mass of bubbles with very limited final strength.
  10. sinewave

    sinewave Screwfix Select

    There ya go Pete!

    Clear as mud eh? :^O
  11. Captain Leaky

    Captain Leaky New Member

    "Washing up liquid affects the long term structural integrity of mortar and should never be used as a substitute for plasticiser."


    Brickwork for Apprentices
    By J. C. Hodge, Malcolm Thorpe

    The industry training "bible".
  12. buildrite

    buildrite New Member

    Yeah,but thats brickwork for apprentices!!!

    In the real world its fine...Old lime mortar is used to keep the bricks apart,cement mortar sticks the together :)

    Seriously, its mortar were talking about for a garden wall,its not structural concrete...Infact, more harm is caused by making the mortar too strong!!It must remain weaker than the brick ityself or any thermal/structural movement will result in the bricks cracking and not the mortar.

    1st rule of building,you cant stick strong to weak, so , Pete,put a drop of fairy in and your wall will be there long after your not!
  13. sav00lips

    sav00lips New Member

    does no one remeber the gallon builders fairy liquid?
  14. bigjules

    bigjules New Member

    FL is very corrosive when in contact with steel.

    Yeah - right, I've noticed our saucepans falling apart.......
  15. jimlift

    jimlift New Member

    isn't Washing up liquid for washing up ???
    and plastisier for masonry work.?????

    lets face it. 5L of Feb is about £2.50

    what does the equivalent in Fairy cost???

    why not use the right thing for the job?

    and to the builder who's been uses Fairy all the time, save your self some money and move with the times!
  16. buildrite

    buildrite New Member

    and to the builder who's been uses Fairy all the time, save your self some money and move with the times!

    Thanks for the advice,I've just ordered a new Bentley :)
  17. ­

    ­ New Member

    Ah, but if you'd used Feb instead of Fairey for the last 20 years, you could have a Learjet as well (like mine.....)
  18. gangman

    gangman New Member

    Thanks for the advice,I've just ordered a new Bentley

    Wonder if you'll use fairy when you give it a wash.

    How many houses have been built using washing up liquid, thousands. Why aren't all these estates built in seventies and eighties falling down because the mortar is crumbling away through the use of fairy liquid.

    There are not many brickies out there who can say they have never used fairy or the like.
    When I was subbing in the 70s and 80s all I wanted was to lay 2000 bricks a day. For that you needed muck that was workable, fairy done that. There were some really cr4p plasticisers on the market then, remember the powdered feb, fairy was better than them, that's why it was used.
    On one site in about 82 we were given swarfega to put in our mix, the factory units are still there and the last time I was there the mortar wasn't crumbling away.

    There's plenty of desk jockeys out there coming up with reasons why we can't do things the way they have always been done, they don't need help from the trades.
  19. gardm1nt

    gardm1nt New Member

    Modern fairy liquid has more surfacents and chemicals added than the old stuff.
  20. diymostthings

    diymostthings Well-Known Member

    Many thanks one and all for all your input. I had no idea the issue would be contentious and there must only be a "yes" or "no" answer!

    As you all know there is an old German proverb "Wer die Wahl hat, hat die Qual" (He who has the choice has the torment).

    So, on balance, I think I should use one mix with and one mix without!

    Cheers again!

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