The effect of age on bond strength and mortar microstructure was investigated as part of an ongoing masonry bond strength research program at The University of Newcastle. Previous work has shown that both strength losses and strength gains occur with age. The potential loss of bond strength with time has structural implications as the design of masonry using the Australian masonry standard AS 3700–2001 is based on the 7 d bond strength. In this investigation, a single mortar-and-unit combination (dry pressed clay and 1:1:6 mortar) cured under ambient laboratory conditions was studied. Bond strength was determined at ages ranging from 3 to 365 d using a small-scale uniaxial tension test. Maximum bond strength was observed to occur at 180 d with strength minima occurring at 90 and 365 d. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques were used to further identify the mortar constituents and hydration levels. Changes in the density of the paste microstructure were observed up to 28 d, which correlated with the initial increase in bond strength. No other microstructural change to account for the strength variations between 28 and 365 d could be observed using these techniques.
Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering Vol. 34, Issue 11, p. 1433-1442