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From the late 19th century until the early 20th century, glazed architectural terra-cotta became a popular building material. It offered colorful designs cast into molds and was less expensive than carved stone. Today, however, many of these terra-cotta building facades suffer from serious water related deterioration.

 

Terra-cotta restoration can include authentic replacements as pictured below or substitute replacements. Substitutes include replicas made from stone, precast concrete, fiberglass, or GFRC. Additional work may include structural repair, anchor replacement, cleaning, re-pointing, Jahn patch and masonry coatings. Inspection, analysis and consultation with a qualified and experienced masonry restoration contractor like Keystone Waterproofing is highly recommended.

 

 

Architectural Terra cotta Services we provide:

  • Custom CAD drawings and renderings from historical documents

  • Art molds from existing terra cotta pieces

  • Custom sculpting and recreation of missing pieces

  • Site surveys, testing, inventory and consulting

  • Engineering of terra cotta replacement connection methods and means

  • Color matching and texture matching of terra cotta glazes

  • Reproduction of terra cotta in GFRC or GFRP

  • Turn-key replacement

 

 

The procedures for historic terra cotta replacement

Through decades of experience in working on restoration projects, the Stromberg team has developed a very efficient and streamlined process for completing terra cotta on time and on budget.

 

Terra cotta Survey

Upon request, a survey is performed of the existing terra cotta. Surveys may include:

 

  • Historical Research for documents to determine the original condition of the terra cotta

  • Inventory of existing terra cotta installed

  • Survey of condition of existing terra cotta, sealant condition, flashing, anchorage

  • Survey of missing terra cotta

 

 

Notes on Terra cotta Replacement:

Terra cotta enjoyed a long period of popularity in architecture. Beginning in the mid 1800s and, through the advent of glazed terra cotta, its popularity continued on into the 1930s. As a material for construction, it enjoyed more than a century of widespread use. From the brownstone buildings of the 19th century to the ceramic veneer that is still in use today, terra cotta has certainly made its mark on our industry. At Kansas City Brick & Masonry Repair, we have a fond appreciation of the aesthetic appeal of this era in architecture, and have applied ourselves diligently in researching the latest and best technology for preserving these structures for future generations.

 

 

Unfortunately, due to design flaws and misconceptions about the material, terra cotta features in architecture are particularly susceptible to failure. Many structures with extensive terra cotta features have suffered from years of natural deterioration. While the use of terra cotta for fireproof cladding was a substantial improvement in safety, the flawed belief that terra cotta was a waterproof building option led many to design structures without the necessary protective features to prevent water infiltration and the result has been significantly destructive in some cases.Kansas City Brick & Masonry Repair Architectural Products has seen it all when it comes to the condition of historic buildings in need of restoration. Through experience, we have developed a full understanding of the challenges associated with refurbishing these architectural treasures. Kansas City Brick & Masonry Repair is the industry leader in the fabrication of quality architectural products custom-made to fit well into any style.

 

  • When properly preformed, TerraGlas®, GFRC or FRP replacements of terra cotta should be virtually indistinguishable from the original material.

  • When replacing glazed architectural terra cotta, all of the original deteriorated material should be completely removed. Do not try to replace a half block or part of a piece.

  • Anchorage should be concealed.

  • Visual compatibility should be a major consideration when choosing a replacement material.

  • Re-anchoring deteriorated terra cotta units is practically impossible due to the anchorage method of steel straps, mortar and interlocking courses. If the terra-cotta in question is loose, deteriorated, or its structural integrity is in question, it is best removed and replaced.

  • Always keep in mind the potential liability of a poorly done job. A piece of terra cotta can become lethal if it falls.