July 12, 2010
New masonry buildings rarely are built the way they used to be and we should preserve and maintain our older masonry structures, because like the saying goes “they don’t build them like they used too” is very true in the masonry business. Very rarely do you see large all real stone buildings being built anymore just because of the high cost of real stone and the amount of labor involved in laying very large stones. If you have an old masonry structure that’s need to be restored there are many steps you must take to repair and restore it. Old Masonry Structures made of real stone and antique brick are very rarely built anymore and to preserve what is left it must be maintained.
The first thing you should do is thoroughly clean the surface with a soft acid wash and a pressure washer. You must be careful not to add to much acid to your solution to ensure you do not damage the brick or stone. You should then scrub with a firm bristle scrub brush to remove all the loose dirt. If you are skilled with a pressure washer this would also work, you just must be real careful not to damage the surface with the high pressure water stream.
The next thing that you may need to do is a good tuckpointing job on the entire surface. You really should do the whole wall or structure because if you just grind out the bad areas you will notice a difference in the color of the patched areas. Doing the whole surface will ensure a quality job that matches entirely and odds are anyways you will have to eventually tuckpoint the other areas as well further down the road anyways.
While you are tuckpointing you should also remove any replace any broken or missing masonry units as well. you should really do the replacement work as you go so your mortar color stays consistent with the surrounding mortar joints. Bad masonry units are one that are cracked, spalling or just plain falling apart. Special care must also be taken at the caps of masonry walls if they are capped with concrete or stone, this is the first line of defense from water damage and deterioration. If the cap has been compromised your wall can quickly be destroyed from the elements of rain, snow and ice.
On really bad crumbling walls they may need to be reinforced with wall anchors that are drilled in with a metal anchor bolt set in a special epoxy to hold it in place.. Other techniques such as wall reinforce with galvanized mesh must also be implemented for crumbling stucco walls. Other things that may need replacement are steel lentils over windows and doors. These can be especially dangerous if not properly reinforced and braced up during replacement.
Restoring our old masonry structures is very important in preserving our historic buildings and should only be attempted by skilled tradesmen that have been in the masonry field for a very long time. If you have a building you would like to restore do not wait long to restore it, the longer you wait the more damage it will absorb and it will cost you more later than sooner so don’t wait, get it fixed now and not later.