What Is Masonry Restoration and How Does It Work?
There is no denying that masonry construction is one of the oldest and most durable forms of construction ever to exist. However, despite its durability, even the best-laid bricks tend to experience wear and tear. This means that after several years or even decades after construction, these buildings end up losing their visual appeal. Therefore, a masonry contractor will be called upon for masonry restoration or repair, depending on the damage. Here is everything you need to know about the restoration and how it works.
What Is Masonry Restoration?
This general term refers to a certain form of repair and maintenance done on a commercial or residential building structure with worn-out bricks. You can think of masonry restoration as the art of bringing a building back to its original form and appearance.
These repairs involved in masonry restoration can either be minor cosmetic upgrades or notable restoration on historical buildings. Most importantly, masonry restoration is about reviving a given brick structure back to how it was when it was first constructed.
It’s important to note that the need for this procedure arises for various reasons. These include weathering and seismic movements, poor workmanship, and negligence. Even though the need for masonry restoration is visually clear, it’s always advisable to consult masonry restoration contractors or even a masonry company about the extent of the damage, what caused it, and the best procedure to fix it.
This is because masonry restoration can involve a lot of work depending on the extent of the damage. The masonry restoration contractors can decide to tear down the masonry work, rebuild it, clean it or even seal it.
Also, it’s important to understand any masonry restoration work done on your building will mainly depend on the type, condition, age, and even the location of the building. For example, building structures in areas of high seismic activity might have to follow a totally different restoration policy compared to those found elsewhere.
How Masonry Restoration Works
Masonry restoration is a long and time-consuming process since it involves hiring skilled and experienced masonry restoration contractors to repoint the wall. Also, these contractors must use sophisticated materials that are suitable for the exact area the building is located.
In most cases, the masonry restoration contractors will start by removing the damaged or worn-out masonry carefully so that they don’t end up damaging the remaining wall. After doing so, the next step is to apply fresh mortar that perfectly suits the building. Finally, the contractors will then seal the new surface to ensure that it lasts for longer.
It’s important to note that masonry contractors have to track down all the materials that match the original masonry work. The contractors have to pay close attention to color, texture, and shape. In the case of historical buildings, tracking these materials can prove complicated since some of them have become less popular.
This explains why masonry contractors usually take more time to complete restoration compared to masonry repair. Additionally, the time and effort that goes into masonry restoration make it quite expensive. However, if done right, the restoration will have your residential or commercial building looking new again. This makes the whole procedure worth it.
The Most Common Methods of Masonry Restoration
Several masonry restoration methods can be used to restore or reinvigorate an older building. These methods include the following.
Tuckpointing is basically the technique of using two different colors of mortar in the joints of the existing brickwork. It’s important to note that one of these colors matches the brick itself in order to give the structure the original color that has existed since the start. At this point, the old mortar is either ground out or routed before it is replaced. Unlike other methods, commercial tuckpointing is more concerned with visual symmetry.
This procedure begins with the masonry contractor using a mechanical angle grinder to get rid of damaged mortar between the building’s horizontal joints. Also, in case any of the damaged mortar remains, professionals may remove it using other equipment. Afterward, these horizontal joints are filled with new mortar that matches the pre-existing one in terms of color and texture.
As a homeowner, you need to understand that maintaining functional mortar joints will prevent your masonry building from collapsing under stress. The main purpose of repointing during masonry restoration is to prevent water from penetrating the inside of the building through the cracked, de-bonded, or deteriorated horizontal mortar joints.
Even though a brick wall can last for up to a century, this isn’t the case with mortar joints. For this reason, if you notice that they’re cracking, crumbling, or leaking, it might be time to get repointing done. It’s important to note that commercial tuckpointing and repointing always go hand in hand during masonry restoration.
For some homeowners, brick replacement is usually a difficult choice, especially if they want to maintain a certain look or material. However, the best thing about opting for brick replacement is that the new brick has more strength and is less permeable to moisture. Even though you can purchase some of these historical bricks, it’s not advised since their durability is unknown.
On the other hand, if your building has damaged bricks, you don’t have another alternative. You’ll have to opt for a brick replacement to maintain the integrity of the building.
High-Pressure Chemical Cleaning
During high-pressure chemical cleaning, acid-based cleaning compounds are used to break the carbon buildup, pollutants, and stains on the surface of the stone masonry, granite, or brick. Homeowners usually prefer this cost-effective method when looking to enhance the aesthetics of their building on a budget.
However, the biggest drawback to this method is that the powerful chemicals used in cleaning could end up staining and degrading the glass on the windows or doors.
Lintels are the steel sections usually fastened above the windows and doors in order to hold the bricks. Therefore, if you’re dealing with lintel damage, you might want to consider masonry restoration. Some of the tell-tale signs of lintel damage are displacement around window arches and cracking around windowpanes.
Do You Need Masonry Restoration for Your Building?
The chances are that if your building is maintained properly and occasionally repointed, you might never need this type of restoration. However, there are some structures built without reinforcing materials such as concrete or rebar. Consequently, they might need retrofitting even if they look great from the outside.
Such buildings run the risk of collapsing, especially in areas that experience earthquakes regularly. Also, if your building is constructed using only brick and stone veneer, you’ll need masonry restoration since they’re prone to water leakages and damage.
Every building has its own unique requirements when it comes to masonry restoration. Therefore, before attempting anything, ensure you consult a masonry company for advice. Are you looking for commercial masonry in St. Paul, Minnesota? Contact us today at Epic Masonry Restoration and let us take care of all your masonry needs.