MORTARBOARDS - The Silent Heroes of the Jobsite

Words: Uma Basso

Words: Uma Basso 
Photos: Gatorback, Bon Tools, MARSHALLTOWN, BanksPhoto

Mason contractors and tenders can attest to the incredible value that a mortarboard brings to the job site. Don’t be fooled by their basic design. Mortarboards are anything but simple. Built with durability in mind, sloped edges and rugged materials have helped to make the mortarboard an essential piece of equipment on any jobsite. 


Traditional mortarboards are often made of wood to keep costs low.  However, moisture from the mortar or other materials is absorbed quickly into the wood.  Not only can this make the contents dry out quickly, but it also results in the mortar, concrete, and other building materials sticking to the wooden surface.  Mason contractors and tenders would find themselves continually retempering mortar, plaster, and cement so that they could keep using it.  Not only can the wood become weak and break as it keeps absorbing water, but it is also susceptible to rotting.  

Today’s mortarboards combine ease of use and utility. Some of the most common materials used include;


Sturdy and leak-free, mortarboards constructed of steel and are built to last.  The non-porous material keeps moisture from being absorbed into the surface, which keeps mortar from drying out.  

However, steel mortarboards have a few drawbacks.  They may rust over time.  If dried mortar or other material sticks to the surface, you may dent or deform the steel if you have to use a hammer or another tool to loosen it.   


This lightweight material makes a mortarboard easy to carry around.  Similar to steel, polyethylene is durable and won’t retain water.  This flat and non-absorbent surface reduces the need to retemper mortar or other materials resulting from the loss of liquid.    

Polyethylene is smooth and prevents mortar, concrete, and plaster from sticking to it.  Not only is it easier to clean, but you also don’t need to worry about damaging the mortarboard, trying to remove dried material.  Polyethylene is considered a synthetic or vinyl polymer. 


Mortarboards made of fiberglass have smooth surfaces that don’t splinter or break.  Just like steel and polyethylene, it doesn’t absorb water from the mortar or other building materials.  Dry mortar won’t stick to a fiberglass surface, which helps to keep your mortarboard clean.  


There are a variety of benefits to using mortarboards at the job site.  

  • Mortarboards don’t absorb water.  Those made of sturdy materials, such as polyethylene and steel, help mortar and other building materials to retain more moisture.  Mortar lasts longer.  Boards with a lip-design around the edges help to keep mortar in one place, allowing it to retain more water.  
  • Mortarboards are easy to carry.  Mortarboards made from lightweight material are easier to move around on the job site.  The lower weight reduces the physical strain that workers experience when they move heavy mortarboards around the job site.  Some mortarboards are designed with handles on the sides, which makes it even easier for mason contractors and tenders to move them around.  
  • Mortarboards improve overall job efficiency.  Today’s mortarboards are functional but small enough to be placed in different areas around the job site.  This flexibility enhances a worker’s effectiveness as the board is within close reach.  The mortarboard’s full and smooth surface will help you stay efficient by keeping down extra moves that a mason contractor or tender must make when laying bricks.  
  • Mortarboards are easy to clean.  The smooth surface that you’ll find with a fiberglass or polyethylene mortarboard makes it easy to clean.  What does this mean?  No more mortar stuck to your board.  Not only will a clean mortarboard improve its life, but it also helps to keep your workplace neat.


Mortarboards are durable and can last a long time when they are taken care of.  Keeping it clean helps to ensure that it has a long life. Be sure to clean off any materials or debris when finished thoroughly. 

When the board is in use, it helps to place it on an even surface.  Whether you opt for a mortarboard stand or stack it on bricks to keep it straight, it can retain its shape better when it’s flat. 

When storing your mortarboard, avoid placing items on top that may weaken or distort its shape.  Keep chemicals or other agents that can spill or drip onto the board away to avoid damaging the material over time.    


Top manufacturers offer a wide selection of mortarboards.    

GATORBACK® Mortarboards are made in USA and are the only board with an integrated handle for easy, safe movement around the jobsite. Their patented, reinforced ribbing allows for up to 150 pounds of mortar without flexing and they’re compatible with all mortarboard stands. Constructed with durable polymers, GATORBACKS are engineered with a recessed surface for retempering mortar that also withstands the daily abuse of trowels and shovels in both hot and cold temperatures.

Learn more about GATORBACK mortarboards.  


Bon sells a 30” X 30” polyethylene mortarboard.  The board has a 3/4” lip and can be bought individually or in quantities of 10.  To learn more about this product, visit Bon.  

Lightweight, yet durable, MARSHALLTOWN mortarboards feature extra high-density UV polyethylene.  The board can withstand hot and cold temperatures.  Measuring 29” X 29”, the MARSHALLTOWN mortarboard is easy to move around and easy to clean.   

You can find out more about MARSHALLTOWN mortarboards here.  


A mortarboard is an excellent complement to a mason, bricklayer, or tender’s set of tools.  The right board improves job efficiency by keeping liquid where it belongs – in the mortar, concrete, and plaster.  It reduces the time and effort needed to retemper materials.  Low in weight, mortarboards are easy to move around the job.  Whether you choose a mortarboard made with polyethylene, fiberglass, or steel, and you’ll have a durable board that will last.  

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