This section is from the book "Safe Building", by Louis De Coppet Berg. Also available from Amazon: Code Check: An Illustrated Guide to Building a Safe House.
In ordinary rubble stonework the mortar should be as strong as possible, as this class of work depends entirely on the mortar for its strength.
For the strengths of different mortars, see Table V.
Some cements are apt to swell in setting, and should be avoided. Where flues or unplastered walls are built, the joints should be "struck," that is, scraped smooth with the trowel. No flues should be " pargetted "; that is, plastered over, as the smoke rots the mortar, particles fall, and the soot accumulating in the crevices is apt to set fire to the chimney. Joints of chimneys are liable to be eaten out from the same reason, and the loose portions fall or are scraped out when the flues are cleaned, leaving dangerous cracks for fire to escape through. It is best, therefore, to line up chimneys inside with burned earthenware or fire-clay pipes. If iron pipes are used, cast-iron is preferable; wrought-iron, unless very thick, will soon be eaten away. Where walls are to be plastered, the joints are left as rough as possible, to form a good clinch.
Outside walls are not plastered directly on the inside, unless hollow; otherwise, the dampness would strike through and the plaster not only be constantly damp, but it would ultimately fall off. Outside walls, unless hollow, are always "furred." In fireproof work, from one to four-inch thick blocks are used for this purpose. These blocks are sometimes cast of ashes, lime, etc., but are a very poor lot and not very lasting. Generally they are made of burnt clay, fire-clay or porous terra-cotta. The latter is the best, as, besides the advantages of being lighter, warmer and more damp-proof, it can be cut, sawed, nailed into, etc., and holds a nail or screw as firmly as wood. These blocks are laid up independently of the wall, but occasionally anchored to the same by iron anchors. The plastering is applied directly to the blocks.
In cheaper and non-fireproof work, furrings are made of vertical strips of wood about two inches wide, and from one to two inches thick, according to the regularity of the backing. For very fine work, sometimes, an independent four-inch frame is built inside of the stone-wall, and only anchored to same occasionally by iron anchors. Where there are inside blinds, a three or four inch furring is used (or a fireproof furring), and this is built on the floor beams, as far inside of the wall as the shutter-boxes demand. To the wooden furrings the laths are nailed. Furrings are set, as a rule, sixteen inches apart, the lath being four feet long; this affords four nailings to each lath. Sometimes the furrings are set twelve inches apart, affording five nailings. All ceilings are cross-furred every twelve inches, on account of stiffness, and the strips should not be less than one-and-thrce-eighths inches thick, to afford strength for nailing. Furring-strips take up considerable of the strain of settlements and shrinkage, and prevent cracks in plastering by distributing the strain to several strips. To still further help this object, the "heading-joints " of lath should not all be on the same strip, but should be frequently broken (say, every foot or two), and should then be on some other strip. Laths should be separated sufficiently (about three-eighths inch) to allow the plaster to be well worked through the joint and get a strong grip or "clinch" on the back of the laths. If a building is properly built, theoretically correct in every respect, it should not show a single crack in plastering. Practically, however, this is impossible. But there never need be any fear of shrinkage or settlement, in a well-constructed building, where the foundations, joints and timbers are properly proportioned. The danger is never from the amount of settlements or shrinkage, but from the inequality of same in different parts of the building. Inequalities in settlements arc avoided by properly proportioning the foundations. Inequalities in shrinkage of the joints, though quite as important, are frequently overlooked by the careless architect. He will build in the same building one wall of brick with many joints, another of stones of all heights and with few joints, and then put iron columns in the centre, making no allowance whatever for the difference in shrinkage. If he makes any, it is probably to call for the most exact setting of the columns, for the hardest and quickest-setting Portland cement for the stonework, and probably be content with lime for the brickwork. To avoid uneven shrinkages, allowances should be made for same. Brickwork will shrink, according to its quality, from one-sixteenth to one-eighth inch per story, ten to twelve feet high, and according to the total height of wall. The higher the wall, the greater the weight on the joints and the greater the shrinkage. Iron columns should, therefore, be made a trifle shorter than the story requires, the beams being set out of level, lower at the column. The plan should provide for the top of lowest column to be one-sixteenth or one-eighth inch low, while the top of highest column would be as many times one-sixteenth or one-eighth inch low as there were stories; or if there were eight stories, the top of bottom column for the very best brickwork would be, say, one-sixteenth inch low, and the top of highest column would be one-half inch low. Stone walls should have stone backings in courses as high as front stones, if possible; if not, the backing should be set in the hardest and quickest-setting cement. Stone walls should be connected to brick walls by means of slip-joints. By this method the writer has built a city stone-front, some 150 feet high and over 50 feet wide, connected to brick walls at each side, without a single stone sill, or transom, or lintel cracking in the front. The slip-joint should carry through foundations and base courses where the pressure is not equal on all parts of the foundation. If for the sake of design, it is necessary to use long columns or pilasters, in connection with coursed stone backings, the columns or pilasters must either be strong enough to do the whole work of the wall, or else must be bedded in puttyShrinkage of joints.