Mortar is a thick paste-like substance that, when dry, creates a strong bond between building materials like brick and stone. Depending on your project and building needs, your building team will select a specific type of mortar to ensure that your brick structure is strong. Whether you use Type N or Type S mortar mix is determined by what type of bonding agent your project needs most.

Understanding Mortar Principles And Issues

Mortar is a thick paste consisting of several materials used to lay brick, block, and stone units. It is important to use the right type of mortar so that your structure is strong, durable, and long-lasting. Your building team will consider different perspectives when choosing the right mortar for your unique build. For example, the homeowner will consider the budget and project timeline. At the same time, the architect will choose mortar based on which will give the best aesthetic value, and the engineer will focus on how the mortar will affect the project's structural integrity. Finally, the mason contractor will know which mortar will be the best option. Together, your team will determine the best mortar that meets the needs of your structure and will ensure the best final product. Overall, it is important to understand that you can't have a one-size-fits-all approach to choosing mortar for a building project. Instead, it is important to carefully select the one that works best for your unique job.

Common Mortar Types

The ASTM Standard Specifications were designed to identify the different materials and products that compose different types of mortar. That way, you can rely on something other than specific brands or manufacturers to get the mortar you need. Your building team will consider which type is best for your project.

ASTM C 270

ASTM C 270 is the Mortar for Unit Masonry and provides the basis for choosing the right type of mortar. There are several different types of mortar, each composed of varying amounts of similar materials. Your building team will consider property and proportion specifications to determine which is best for your project.

Mortar Materials

No matter the type, mortar is composed of water, sand, and cement. Each specific type is composed of different proportions of these materials to provide varying results. In some instances, you may need a stronger mortar, while in other instances, resistance to free-thaw deterioration may be the most important feature.


There are several different types of mortar. Some include Type N, Type S, Type M, and Type O. Your building team will consider your building project and carefully select the right mortar to get the job done effectively. As mentioned before, each team member will approach the decision with a different perspective, providing a balanced, all-encompassing approach so you can be sure that they've considered every angle to pick the right mortar type.

What Is The Difference Between Type S & Type N Mortar Mix?

When comparing Type N vs. Type S mortar mix, it's important to know their composition. Type S, for example, comprises two parts Portland cement, one part hydrated lime, and nine parts sand. Comparatively, Type N comprises only one part Portland cement, one part lime, and six parts sand. Because they're made with different proportions of the same ingredients, their uses and strengths vary greatly. A good masonry expert knows the basic composition of each type of mortar mix and can determine which will work best for each project.

Compressive Strength

Compressive strength refers to how well a material can withstand heavy loads that can cause compression — or reduce its size. Type N mortar mix is a medium compressive-strength material of at least 750 pounds per square inch (psi) and a 28-day strength of 1,500 to 2400 psi. Type S mortar mix, on the other hand, has a compressive strength of at least 1,800 psi, but it's typically much stronger at 2,300 to 3,000 psi.

Bonding Properties

When determining whether to use mortar types S vs. N, it's important to consider their bonding properties, especially true for the mortar used to bond bricks together. Experts will consider two bonding properties: the bond's extent and the mortar mix's bond strength. The extent of the bond means that the mortar mix will have good workability, resulting in excellent durability and water resistance. The bond strength, however, refers to how much force it takes to separate the brick from the mortar. Excellent bond strength means the bricks won't crack as easily. Type N is especially beneficial for exterior places exposed to the elements, including severe weather and extreme temperatures. Type S, conversely, is perfect for areas with extensive soil pressure, wind, and seismic conditions.

Common Uses

Common uses for Type N mortar mix include above-grade applications, including: Type S mortar mix is used for applications that need a stronger component and below-grade applications, including:

Expert Masonry Services In Dallas-Fort Worth

We offer a variety of services, including masonry repairs, block installation, concrete work, landscaping, and much more. For more questions about the different types of mortar mixes and to schedule masonry services, please contact The Brick Experts today.