Surface repair mortars are used for the compensation, or repair, of lost portions of surface materials in historic masonry buildings. It is recommended that their design and application should be performed in a wider context of conservation values related decision making, to prioritise preservation of original fabric, authenticity of approach and maintenance of integrity, and not just on technical principles alone. However, a technical context for their design does exist, that requires understanding of the properties of the substrate that they will be applied onto, and adherence to minimum aesthetic (colour and texture) requirements. The principles of physical, mechanical and chemical compatibility of repair apply and the attributes of the repair mortar should be carefully matched to the substrate alongside a sacrificial behaviour (not more durable than the material being replaced). Guidance is given on the design, application and the functional requirements that must be met when using surface repair mortars. © 2019, RILEM.