The Art of Masonry Restoration: Preserving Ontario’s Heritage Buildings

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This image shows the hands of a mason or bricklayer working on constructing a brick wall The image focuses on the workers hands which are calloused and covered in mortar as they carefully place a brick into the wall The wall is made of red and brown bricks that are laid in a traditional pattern with mortar visible between the bricks The background is slightly blurred but appears to be a construction site or outdoor area

Ontario’s historic brick and stone buildings are a vital part of our architectural heritage. Over time, even the most well-constructed masonry deteriorates and requires skilled restoration to maintain its integrity and beauty. Unfortunately, not all masonry work is created equal. Inexperienced or poorly trained masons using improper techniques and materials can cause permanent damage to these important structures.

Understanding Our Responsibility

As experienced masons based in the Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville regions, we believe we have a fiduciary duty to the owners of Ontario’s masonry buildings and to the art of masonry as it has been practiced for thousands of years. This duty involves preserving and restoring both historic and contemporary masonry structures using skills refined over centuries of experimentation and tradition.

Section of a brick wall needing restoration

At Fix My Brick, we view masonry restoration as both a craft and a responsibility. Our commitment to upholding the highest standards ensures we protect and preserve the masonry buildings that make our communities unique.

The Importance of Proper Repointing

Repointing, the process of renewing the mortar between masonry units, is one of the most critical aspects of any restoration project. Deteriorated mortar joints are not only unsightly but also allow moisture to penetrate the masonry, leading to further damage from Ontario’s harsh freeze-thaw cycles.

To effectively repoint historic masonry, masons must have the knowledge and skill to:

  • Choose Compatible Mortar: Select a mortar that matches the original in strength, composition, and appearance to prevent damage and ensure a seamless repair.
  • Carefully Remove Deteriorated Mortar: Remove old mortar without damaging surrounding bricks, which requires precision and expertise.
  • Install New Mortar Correctly: Apply new mortar using techniques that ensure full contact and prevent moisture infiltration, maintaining the integrity of the structure.
  • Match Joint Profiles and Textures: Recreate the original style of the building by matching the joint profiles and textures, preserving its historic character.

Investing in Quality Masonry Restoration

Choosing a masonry contractor based on the lowest bid can be tempting, but the costs of improper restoration far outweigh any short-term savings. Masonry work that uses the wrong materials or techniques can trap moisture, leading to cracking, spalling, and structural issues that are expensive to fix. Poor workmanship also diminishes the appearance and historic character of the building.

When selecting a masonry restoration company, look for:

  • Extensive experience with historic buildings and traditional masonry techniques.
  • Knowledge of material properties and compatibility.
  • Understanding of Ontario’s unique climate conditions and their effects on masonry.
  • Commitment to quality workmanship and attention to detail.
  • Excellent references and examples of successful past projects.

At Fix My Brick, we pride ourselves on our masonry expertise, dedication to preserving Ontario’s built heritage, and ability to deliver exceptional results on every project. If you’re looking for skilled masons who will treat your building with the care and respect it deserves, contact us to discuss your restoration needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How often should I have my masonry building inspected?
    • We recommend having your masonry inspected every 1-2 years to catch any deterioration early. Older or more complex buildings may require more frequent inspections.
  2. What are the signs that my building needs repointing?
    • Crumbling, cracked, or missing mortar; loose or spalling bricks; and moisture staining on interior walls are all indications that repointing is needed. If you notice any of these issues, contact a qualified masonry restoration professional to assess the extent of the damage.
  3. Can I repoint my masonry myself?
    • While some minor repointing tasks can be DIY projects, most masonry restoration work is best left to skilled professionals. Improper techniques or materials can cause further damage to your building.
  4. How long does masonry restoration take?
    • The timeline depends on the size and condition of your building, but most projects take several weeks to a few months. Your masonry contractor should provide an estimated schedule before beginning work.
  5. Will repointing change the appearance of my building?
    • A skilled mason will work to match the color, texture, and style of your original mortar joints for a seamless repair. In some cases, slightly mismatched repointing is preferable to show the history of the building.
  6. How much does masonry restoration cost?
    • Costs vary widely depending on the level of deterioration, accessibility, and materials needed. Always request a detailed quote from your masonry restoration contractor that breaks down the scope of work and associated costs. While quality restoration is an investment, it pays off in the long-term preservation and value of your property.
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