Mortar is a workable paste used to bind building blocks such as stones, bricks, and concrete masonry units together, fill and seal the irregular gaps between them, and sometimes add decorative colors or patterns in masonry walls. In its broadest sense mortar includes pitch, asphalt, and soft mud or clay, such as used between mud bricks. Mortar comes from Latin mortarium meaning crushed.
Cement mortar becomes hard when it cures, resulting in a rigid aggregate structure; however the mortar is intended to be weaker than the building blocks and the sacrificial element in the masonry, because the mortar is easier and less expensive to repair than the building blocks. Mortars are typically made from a mixture of sand, a binder, and water. The most common binder since the early 20th century is Portland cement but the ancient binder lime mortaris still used in some new construction. Lime and gypsum in the form of plaster of Paris are used particularly in the repair and repointing of buildings and structures because it is important the repair materials are similar to the original materials. The type and ratio of the repair mortar is determined by a mortar analysis. There are several types of cement mortars and additives.