The South facing gable end of the barn has been one of the biggest issues we’ve faced. It always looked very sound and had been repointed recently. Once work started it become apparent that the pointing wasn’t as sound as it looked – in fact the higher up the wall you went the worse it looked. I even managed to find stalactites-in-our-walls – which was nice. The wall is pretty exposed to the valley and gets all that wonderful rain thrown at it – a lot of which seeps in through the dodgy pointing just doesn’t want to leave until it seeps out days, weeks even years later.
The prospect of repointing the wall and finding the problem persist wasn’t one I savoured so another solution was required. White washing was something I’d considered and read up on – as an aside, for anyone interested in this area or facing similar problems, I’d recommended Precious Inheritance: The Conservation of Welsh Vernacular Buildings by Cliff Blundell – as it says in the title the focus is on Welsh vernacular buildings, but is relevant to most British pre World War One buildings. There is a case study of a coach house in Carmarthenshire with a damp ‘pine end’ (sounds uncomfortable!) that gave me the confidence to consider applying a similar solution.
So when the builder suggested bag pointing the wall (as we’d done inside to tidy up the internal wall) and then lime washing I was all for it. Having seen it done elsewhere we went ahead.
I just hope it works!