Old walls and buildings can reveal the history of a town or area, but these structures do not last forever. With age, these structures can break, crack and become covered in dirt and dust. This prompts the need for repairs, but not everyone knows how to do this properly. You want to keep historic structures intact while repairing, as any mistake could end up causing more damage. Knowing how to properly perform historic masonry repair to a building is imperative to keeping the original structure.
Whether you are the owner of a historic house or you are recapturing a part of city history by repairing historic buildings in your town, knowing the right way to go about historic masonry repair will ensure you are able to get the job done correctly. From getting the necessary permits to starting the project itself, we will give you the know-how to care for and maintain historic structures.
When doing conducting a historic masonry repair, such as painting the structure or fixing cracks, you will need a permit from the city before you start. These permits are designed to ensure the preservation of the historic materials, that the character of the building is not compromised, and that the repairs will not harm or damage the site.
Applying for a Permit
When applying for a permit from the city, you will need to gather a few things for the permit to be approved. The first is photos of the entire building or structure. This is done to show what the original structure looked like and where the repairs will be done.
Next, you will need to detail what will be done, how you will do it and what tools will be used. If you are having a contractor do the work, then their plans for the job will work as well as long as they detail all aspects of the job.
Then, you must fill out an application for the permit that you want and turn it into the city office. These forms can be found at the office of the city and are usually available online as well. The permit you will need for this type of work is Construction on Private Property.
If you will need a scaffold to complete the work, you will also need to obtain a permit for that as well. If the scaffold will be in a public place, then you will also need a permit that specifies that you will be working in a public area.
Masonry repointing is the process of joining together masonry units in an effort to keep out water. Many historic buildings use mortar to seal the structures and are typically made with lime and sand. You cannot use grinders or saws for mortar removal, as doing so could cause damage to the structure. Also, the new mortar must look and feel just like the original mortar used.
You must make sure that the mortar uses the same materials, is the same color and will take on the same look to keep the weathering look from aging. You do not want the new mortar to look like it is new, so matching the color and texture is extremely important. Once you have finished repointing, you will need to remove any mortar from the face of the structure.
When doing repairs on these older structures, you will need to take extra care to ensure that no damage is caused. You also need to make sure that the look of the building or wall is seamless and does not look like it has newer bricks or stone added. The city will likely only allow you to do repairs if you know the type of bricks or stones used, so the original style of the building is kept.
Many repairs will likely be due to the movement of a single brick or stone or cracking from impacts that have happened over the years. When movement has occurred, the brick or stone can be repositioned and settled into the original position so it is flush with the rest of the wall. However, if there is a crack or hole, you may need to replace it.
You will need to use materials of the same color and style, and it is recommended to use as much of the original material for repairs as possible. Where some bricks or stones have been replaced, you can reuse those pieces elsewhere. Also, if you remove a cracked unit and find that the other side is not cracked, then flipping it over could be a solution.
Cleaning historic masonry takes gentle care not to damage the surface of the building or structure. You should use low-pressure steam or water to clean and use a soft-bristled brush if you need to scrub off stuck-on dirt. You do not need a permit for cleaning historic masonry, but you will need to make sure that no damage is done to the surface of the structure.
Patching and Cracks
If there are areas of the brick or stone that have small cracks, then patching the area to make it look like the rest of the structure is a good option for repair. If there are any areas where bricks or stones were replaced, it is best to reuse the material to create the patching for other units. This will cover the damaged area and make it look seamless with the rest of the surface.
Consult with Pros at WCR
Want to ensure that you are doing everything the right way? Contact Waterproof Caulking and Restoration for a consultation. We will help you stick to the proper techniques for cleaning and restoration and ensure that you maintain the look and integrity of the historic building. If you find that you need help finishing the work, our professionals can help you get the job done!