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I S S U E 2 / 2 0 1 4 V O L U M E 3 1 N U M B E R 2

Journal of architectural
technology published by
Hoffmann Architects, Inc.,
specialists in the rehabilitation
of building exteriors.

Historic Stone Masonry Restoration

Elizabeth A. Campbell, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Christopher M. DeRosa

D elicately carved ornament, dis-

tinctive tooling and bonding patterns,
best ways to arrest and, to whatever
degree possible, undo the damage
and rich surface textures, along with caused by poorly conceived repairs.
soaring arches, towers, and buttresses, To best treat a historic stone struc-
inspire awe and give historic ture, consider ongoing concerns, such
stone masonry a sense of as leaks and deterioration, in the
the sublime. Yet it is those context of past repair work, as well as
details we most admire that properties and features of the stone
are often the most vulner- itself. Through stone condition evalu-
able, succumbing not only ation, laboratory testing and analysis,
to the effects of time and and historical records review, the
weather, but to the con- design professional can determine the
sequences of insensitive deterioration mechanisms at work and
repairs, from inappropri- prepare an appropriate restoration
ate coatings to careless program. With thoughtful design and
repointing. proficient execution, restoration can
As the number of new build- preserve architecturally and culturally
ings constructed of solid significant details, while reestablishing
stone masonry has dimin- the resiliency that has enabled the his-
ished over the past century, toric stone to last through the years.
so too has the number of
skilled artisans available to Evaluating Masonry Construction
restore these structures as Before developing a stone treatment,
they age. With few crafts- it is necessary to develop an under-
people proficient in the standing of the history and condition
treatment of traditional of the existing building. The design
stone structures, building professional should consider the origi-
To ensure the legacy of historic stone structures endures,
owners may unwittingly em- nal design intent, particularly in terms
it is important to apply appropriate conservation strategies.
ploy inexperienced trades- of how the stone type, surface dress-
men, whose repair efforts ing, bond pattern, pointing, and other
may cause more damage than they attributes contribute to the function
resolve. Too often, that damage is ir- and appearance of the exterior enve-
reversible. As such, discussions about lope. Stone is generally chosen based
the restoration of historic stone must upon both its structural properties
address not only the treatment of age- and its aesthetic qualities, so the initial
related wear and decay, but also the investigation should identify those

Elizabeth A. Campbell, AIA LEED AP BD+C, Project Architect with Hoffmann Architects, develops historic
stone restoration strategies that combine material science and preservation. Project Coordinator Christopher
M. DeRosa has experience designing stone cleaning and repair programs for traditional masonry buildings.

Efflorescence. Iron subflorescence. Exfoliation.

properties of the stone that are inte- interior. Repair programs that fail to Just as the stones inherent proper-
gral to the design and performance consider the distinction between tradi- ties affect the performance of the wall
the building. tional stone construction and modern assembly, so too does the style of con-
cavity walls can adversely impact the struction influence the longevity of the
In the field, the investigation begins
moisture balance in the assembly, re- stone. Traditional stone detailing often
with a visual survey, at times involving
sulting in poor indoor air quality, leaks, served to direct water away from po-
a stone-by-stone evaluation of existing
and damage to the stone. tentially vulnerable areas and to pre-
conditions. To identify concealed dete-
vent concentrated streams that cause
rioration conditions and locate points When selecting stone, whether for staining and freeze-thaw damage.
of water infiltration, wall openings may reconstruction or for isolated replace-
be performed as part of the assess- ment, the architect or engineer should Drip edges on the undersides of
ment. Laboratory analysis of stone and consider performance features and window lintels and sills prevent water
mortar samples may yield additional known properties, as well as texture from passing along the length of the
useful data, particularly where the and color. Strength, coefficient of protruding element back into the
resiliency of the stone is called into expansion, weathering characteristics, wall assembly. Throats, which may be
question due to age, observed dete- durability, porosity, appearance, and present as gargoyles or other troughs,
rioration, or, more often, due to the ill also channel rainwater away from the
workability are all key considerations.
effects of inappropriate prior repairs. building, as do stoolings, a sloped por-
Sound knowledge of the harmful
The investigation should incorporate tion of the sill built into the surround-
effects of salt contamination, ero-
an inventory of previous treatments ing wall to shed water. The slope, or
sion, chemical attack, frost action, and
and repairs, as well as a recommended weathering, of the sill is usually set at
vegetative growth is also important to
program for restoration. an angle pitched to direct water away
predicting the resiliency of stone to
from the wall. At roof lines, coping
Characteristics of Stone Masonry environmental factors. stones, which are large, sloped cap
Thermal and moisture management For vulnerable areas, subject to severe stones, are set atop parapet walls to
in a traditional stone masonry building exposure, atmospheric pollution, and serve a similar function. Unfortunately,
is quite different from that in modern repeated wetting, the choice of stone todays climate of acid rain, airborne
construction, which uses impervious is especially important. Steps, curbs, pollutants, and soluble chemicals tends
materials, vapor barriers, and cav- pavers, and base courses near grade to accelerate damage to stone mason-
ity space to prevent the migration of and adjacent to hardscapes are all ry despite these traditional deterrents
moisture across the building enve- prone to degrade at a greater rate to moisture-induced deterioration.
lope. In contrast to the thin exterior than are smooth, vertically-oriented The size and tooling profile of mor-
envelope of a contemporary veneer surfaces. Strong and resilient stone, tar joints has a direct impact on the
assembly, load-bearing historic stone such as granite and quartz, is generally ability of the masonry wall to shed
masonry is characterized by massive, better suited to these high-traffic, sen- moisture. Some joint profiles can ef-
thick walls, which absorb moisture sitive areas. The softer the stone, the fectively double the surface area of
at the outer surface and release it more it will react to impact damage the joint and, consequently, increase
gradually, before it reaches the building and be subject to erosion. the absorption capability of the wall


Delamination. Cracking. Sugaring.

assembly. In cases where an inappro- stone, leading to characteristic rust- environmental factors.
priate tooling profile or deteriorated colored stains. Where a crack in the masonry unit
mortar allows water to pool in the Where a portion of the stone surface leads to a clean break, the frac-
joint, the mortar and adjacent stone has broken away, the problem could ture is referred to as detachment.
can become severely deteriorated. be delamination, exfoliation, or spalling, Detachment may be due to failure of
depending upon the type of stone and an original construction joint, or it may
Forms of Deterioration in
the nature of the break. Often caused be the result of a weakened plane
Natural Stone
by freeze-thaw cycling, spalling is the within the stone.
Depending upon the type of stone, result of trapped moisture and salts Tracing the source of cracking in his-
the climate, exposure, orientation, that expand beneath the surface of toric stone masonry can be difficult,
building use, provision for moisture the stone, forcing off a piece of the as it can originate in a wide variety of
management, and type of construction, outer face. As stone is exposed to sources, ranging from structural settle-
the causes and manifestations of stone age and wear, the surface layer may ment to a repointing mortar that is
deterioration can be diverse. separate from the body along a vein, incompatible with the stone. If cracks
As moisture within the wall evapo- through processes resulting from salt are narrow and short or confined to
rates from the exterior face, it leaves crystallization. Spalling can also result within a single stone unit, the issue
behind waterborne salts, which remain from poor repointing techniques may be relatively minor; cracks that
on the stone surface. This characteris- and from using too hard a repointing are wider and longer or those that
tic white stain, or efflorescence, is often mortar. extend over large areas may be indica-
a result of rising damp, which occurs Delamination takes place when the tive of systemic problems.
when groundwater is drawn up into outer surface of the stone splits into If, with light rubbing, the surface of the
the base of the wall. Efflorescence may thin layers, which then peel off the stone falls away in small granules, simi-
also be caused by moisture introduced face. Sedimentary stones are naturally lar in texture to granulated sugar, the
into the wall assembly through im- prone to delamination, which occurs stone may be succumbing to surface
properly installed or missing flashings along the bedding planes when the disintegration, or sugaring. Cohesive
at the top of a parapet. rock is set perpendicular to the direc- minerals in the stone dissolve, and the
Where efflorescence is observed, tion in which it was originally formed. remaining deposits are easily brushed
subflorescence also may be present. As Like delamination, exfoliation is a type from the surface. Carbonate stones,
trapped moisture migrates through of surface disintegration in which the especially fine-grained marble, are
stone, it may leave behind a potentially stone sloughs off in very fine layers. particularly susceptible to this type of
harmful accumulation of crystallized Although the two terms are often granular separation.
salts along veins or internal cracks, used interchangeably, delamination As the building ages, the natural dis-
which can damage the stones internal tends to refer to fracture along natural integration and erosion of stone due
structure. In some cases, these salts bedding planes, whereas exfoliation is to wind and rain leads to weathering,
may accelerate corrosion of naturally usually due to thermal stress, im- which results in worn and rounded
occurring ferrous compounds in the peded moisture movement, or other surfaces. Exposure to acid rain tends


to drastically increase the rate of gentlest method possible to remove its acidity can cause dissolution of the
weathering and produce a noticeable staining, to avoid damage to the stone stone surface.
softening or loss of detail. color or carved detail. Cleaning can
Any wet cleaning method should be
reveal the natural color of the stone,
Selecting a Preservation carried out only when there is no
while exposing damage that may re-
Treatment danger of frost or freezing. If the wall
quire repair.
remains saturated during cold tem-
Once the design professional has Water washing may be the most ver- peratures, absorbed water may freeze
catalogued the location and extent of satile and gentle technique for remov- and expand inside the stone, causing
deterioration, along with the probable ing dirt and stains from historic stone cracks and spalls.
causes whether normal wear, exces- masonry. Methods include prolonged
sive contaminants, flaws in the original Chemical cleaning agents, including
spraying with fine mist, low-pressure
design or construction, inappropriate organic surfactants, should be selected
washes, and water used in combina-
based on the type of stain, the pres-
previous repairs, or other such condi- tion with chemical agents. Take note,
ence of biological growth, atmospheric
tions he or she can identify and test however, that even simple water wash-
pollutants, and, most importantly,
methods for restoration to address ing should be carried out with caution.
the stone substrate. Alkaline clean-
the deficiencies. Permanent discoloration may result
ers, which are used on limestone and
should dissolved minerals or impurities
Cleaning marble, should not come in contact
leach out of the stone, or if absorbed
with polished granite or windows, as
While it may sound simple enough, water corrodes metal elements. Soft
the high pH may cause etching. Acidic
cleaning of historic stone is a delicate water should not be used on calcium
cleaners, formulated for granite, slate,
process. As a general rule, use the carbonate stone, such as limestone, as
sandstone, and other non-calcareous
stone, must be removed from ma-
Stone Consolidation: sonry by a water rinse to neutralize
Benefits and Risks the acid following application. It is cru-
cial to protect facade elements, such
Consolidants may be applied to stone as light fixtures and ornaments, that
when its composition is no longer stable, may be damaged during the cleaning
as occurs with crumbling or sugaring. process.
A consolidant is a chemical, typically Abrasive cleaning may be used, in lieu
composed of polymers, that is applied to of or in addition to chemical clean-
the stone surface in cycles over a speci- ing, to remove soil, stains, and coatings
fied length of time. The end result is a by abrading the surface of the stone
substrate whose microstructural stability through impact. Sandblasting, grit, and/
is restored. Consolidants require reap- or pressure washing are all common
plication over time, so there is scheduled forms of abrasive cleaning, as is the
maintenance involved in this repair. use of power sanders, wire brushes,
Consolidants alter the physical character and other hand tools. Due to the high
and color of the stone. The liquid polymers applied to the surface are drawn potential for damage, abrasive clean-
into the stone via capillary action, and subsequently solidify within the stone ing should only be used for historic
matrix. The application area is transformed permanently into a combination of masonry in special circumstances, and
stone and polymer. As such, the use of a consolidant to stabilize historic stone then only under direction of an expe-
must be carefully considered, because the result is a new substrate. rienced architect or engineer.
The extent to which a consolidant will darken the stone can vary from slightly Stone Repair/Restoration
to markedly along a facade composed of the same stone exhibiting the same Repointing is used to repair dete-
levels of deterioration. Performing a mockup of the application will produce riorated mortar joints. The existing
the variety of results that can be expected though the course of the project. mortar is removed by hand to a depth
A mockup is always recommended to determine the appropriateness of con- of two times the joint width, or until
solidation, because it is an irreversible repair. sound mortar is reached (whichever
is greater), and new mortar is set in


place and tooled to match the original

profile. Inappropriate Repairs
For the majority of older buildings,
As holds the principle of bioethics, so should the approach to treating his-
a historically accurate mortar mix
toric stone: First, do no harm. If the degree of deterioration does little to
should contain only sand, lime, and
detract from the architectural character of the building or to call into ques-
water. White Portland cement may be
tion its structural stability or performance, no repair may be needed.
substituted for a portion of the lime
to improve workability and plasticity. Too often, application of a
A high-lime-content mortar is softer protective waterproof coating,
than the stone and prevents damage aimed at preventing hypotheti-
to the stone masonry by acting as the cal moisture-related deteriora-
sacrificial element in the wall assembly. tion, has the unintended effect
of sealing moisture inside the
To achieve a mortar mix that approxi-
masonry surface and leading, in
mates the character of the original,
many cases, to real and irrevers-
it may be necessary to add pigment,
ible damage. Stone masonry
crushed shells, or colored sand. Testing
buildings of traditional construc-
and analysis of the original mortar
may facilitate accurate identification of tion were designed to breathe;
to be permeable to air and Blistering waterproof coating.
mortar components.
moisture, allowing water to leave
Mechanical stitching stabilizes and the wall assembly through the
arrests wide cracks that extend deep natural process of evaporation.
into or through a stone unit. The stitch Introducing impervious coat-
pins are usually stainless steel, to resist ings and vapor barriers disrupts
corrosion and to accommodate the the balance of moisture across
tensile forces that caused the stone to the building envelope, which can
crack. To execute the repair, the face result in dire consequences for
of the crack is routed in a V shape, the stone, at both a macro- and
and the ends of the stitch pins are micro-structural level.
embedded in the stone surface. Then,
the pin holes and the crack surface are As a shortcut to address deterio-
rated mortar joints, a thin layer Deteriorated face-pointed mortar.
of mortar is sometimes added
Patching with cementitious mate- without first removing the exist-
rial may be used to treat small areas ing mortar to the appropriate
of deteriorated or spalled stone. If depth. While quicker and cheaper
carried out by a skilled worker, patch than full repointing, face-pointing
repair may blend into the facade is inadvisable, as it does not pro-
more than a stone replacement or vide suitable stability and tends
Dutchman repair, and it is usually less to crumble out of the joint.
expensive. Patch materials vary ac-
cording to the type of stone masonry Introduction of pointing mortars
being repaired, but they should be of incorrect composition may re-
weaker than the stone substrate. If the strain the natural expansion and
contraction of stone masonry Incorrect use of sealant.
patching compound is too hard, it may
accelerate deterioration of the sur- subjected to moisture absorption and drastic temperature swing cycles,
rounding stone. leading to cracking and spalling. Faulty patching mortars and ill-conceived
pinning methods may have similar detrimental consequences. Even stone
To match the color and texture of the cleaning, which sounds innocuous enough, is fraught with hazards, as using
patching material to the existing stone, abrasive or chemically incompatible cleaning methods can abrade or other-
colored sand is often used, along with wise damage the stone surface.
ground stone. Pressing stone dust
(continued on page 6)


(continued from page 5)

and chips into the surface of a newly

formed patch may aid in blending Set In Stone
the repair area with the surround-
ing masonry. To achieve an accurate Sedimentary stone is formed
match, artificial colorants may be used, through the deposition of clay and
although these may fade or change sediment layers over the course of
slightly in appearance over time. thousands of years. Sedimentary
stone, such as schist, slate, and sand-
Equally important as color matching
stone, is most durable if it is bed set,
to the success of the repair is prepa-
that is, oriented in construction, the
ration of the patch area. Identifying
same direction as it was formed in nature. When sedimentary stone is
appropriate locations for support
permanently positioned on its side, perpendicular to its natural orientation,
pins, where necessary, and keeping
those layers that were once horizontal are prone to shearing and delami-
those pins clean and free of adhesive
nation on the stone face.
or epoxy is crucial to the durability of
the patch, particularly for large areas. The lifespan of face-set stone is significantly shorter than that of its bed-
Patching material should be applied set counterparts. There are design conditions and decorative shapes that
past the stone surface, to facilitate fin- may be impossible to carve for a bed set installation. In these situations,
ish carving once the patch has set. consider an alternative type of stone; otherwise, anticipate stone replace-
ment well before the standard life expectancy for the material.
Dutchman repair replaces the missing
portion of a chipped or broken stone
unit with a newly carved piece of techniques are impractical or ineffec- outward through the pores in the
stone. Typically, the repair piece is natu- tive, or where stone units are missing stone, while preventing liquid water
ral stone, chosen to match the hue or so severely broken or deteriorated from penetrating into the wall. Typically,
and texture of the existing masonry, as to be unrepairable. Use of natural these coatings are colorless; however,
and it is wedged in place, secured with stone carved to match the existing they may impart an undesirable sheen
adhesive, or set with pins; larger pieces masonry is generally preferable to to the stone and may darken its color.
may be set in mortar. To maintain the replacement with non-matching or Water-repellent coatings should never
appearance of a continuous stone unit, synthetic material. However, accurate be applied to a damp or wet build-
the joint between the repair piece and replacement may be contingent upon ing, particularly one that might have
the existing stone should be as narrow locating a suitable quarry and a satis- subflorescence under the surface. If
as possible. factory color match. applied to a wet wall, the coating pre-
vents moisture within the wall from
Stone replacement must be con- Dampproof course installation ad-
drying out, increasing the risk of dam-
sidered where repair and patching dresses rising damp by incorporating
age to the stone.
a water-resistant material into the
wall just above grade. Many historic One case where a water-repellent
masonry buildings include some type coating may be appropriate is on a
of dampproof material, such as tile, facade that has undergone previous
slate, bituminous felt, or metal, to pre- and often detrimentalwaterproof
vent the rise of ground moisture into coating application. As the water-
the wall, but such a layer may also be proof coating may have permanently
added as a remedial measure. altered the properties of the stone,
it may be impossible to return to a
Dampproofing may be used for walls
stable, uncoated state. Application of
that are regularly coursed and stable,
a breathable coating may protect the
but which are experiencing moisture
porous surface of the existing stone
migration originating at the portion of from further damage. Considerations
the wall that is below grade. include altered appearance, which may
Water-repellent coatings, unlike be evaluated through mockup testing,
Mockup test of stripping agents to remove waterproof coatings, are breath- and the maintenance demand of peri-
prior inappropriate coating. able, allowing water vapor to escape odic re-application.
(continued on page 8)


Historic Stone Masonry Columbia University

Butler Library
Before selecting a treatment for
New York, New York
historic stone, Hoffmann Architects
Limestone Colonnade and Facade
considers the ways in which the origi-
nal construction responds to air and
moisture, and how time, weather, and Fairfield University
alterations to the natural stone have Bellarmine Hall
affected its properties. Since each Fairfield, Connecticut
stone building is unique, our architects New Haven Courthouse in New Haven,
Ashlar Granite Facade Restoration
and engineers test and evaluate resto- Connecticut. Marble Facade Restoration. Folger Shakespeare Library
ration strategies to see that proposed Washington, District of Columbia
BNY Mellon
treatments perform as intended. One Wall Street Marble Facade Restoration
Hoffmann Architects has designed New York, New York The George Washington University
stone masonry solutions for historic Limestone Facade Study and Restoration Lisner Auditorium
commercial, institutional, and govern- St. Lukes Episcopal Church Washington, District of Columbia
ment structures, including: Darien, Connecticut Limestone Facade Rehabilitation
Swarthmore College Ashlar Granite Facade Restoration Gillette Castle State Park
Clothier Hall Old Town Hall East Haddam, Connecticut
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania Stamford, Connecticut Fieldstone Building Envelope
Schist Bell Tower Investigation and Repair Limestone Facade Restoration Investigation
Lehigh University New York Stock Exchange St. Thomas Seminary
Packer Memorial Church New York, New York Bloomfield, Connecticut
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Marble Facade Restoration Ashlar Granite Bell Tower Rehabilitation
Quartzite and Sandstone Master Plan
and Restoration
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Washington, District of Columbia
Limestone Facade Restoration
Walter E. Hoffman Courthouse
Norfolk, Virginia
Limestone and Granite Facade
American University
McKinley Building
Washington, District of Columbia Father OConnell Hall at The Catholic University of America in Washington, District of
Marble Facade Consultation Columbia. Limestone and Granite Facade Investigation and Restoration.


Hoffmann Architects, Inc.

2321 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518


(continued from page 6)

JOURNAL is a publication of Hoffmann

Architects, Inc., specialists in the
rehabilitation of building exteriors. The
firms work focuses on existing struc-
tures, diagnosing and resolving prob-
lems within roofs, facades, windows,
waterproofing materials, structural sys-
tems, plazas/terraces, parking garages,
and historic and landmark structures.
We also provide consulting services for
new building construction, as well as
litigation and claim support.

For address changes, free subscriptions,

or information on the topics discussed
Caring for Natural Stone in this issue, contact our Marketing
Since stone is not homogeneous, and Together, the owner, design profession- Department at 800-239-6665,
time, weather, and stress affect each news@hoffarch.com, or:
al, and restoration contractor should
structure in different ways, mockup use the results of mockup testing to 2321 Whitney Avenue
tests should be used to evaluate the establish baseline expectations for the Hamden, CT 06518
performance of proposed repairs program of repairs. Historic stone de- 203-239-6660
prior to full implementation. Product rives its character from its age, and it is
1040 Avenue of the Americas, Ste. 14C
manufacturers, stone quarries, and neither achievable nor desirable for it New York, NY 10018
masons are useful resources; they can to emerge from a conservation effort 212-789-9915
provide test and performance data, looking like new. Realistic goals for the
along with experiential advice, on the aesthetics and expected longevity of 2611 Jefferson Davis Highway, Ste. 200
restoration strategies and stone sam- repairs should take into account the Arlington, VA 22202
ples under consideration. Ultimately, natural qualities of the historic stone
though, each building is unique, and that give the building its personality. www.hoffarch.com
even carefully formulated approaches
require in situ evaluation. Editor: Alison Hoffmann
Production: Cari Tate

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