Environmental Protection for Your Building
Home Maintenance Checklist
5 Biggest Restoration Mistakes
Tips for Selecting a Specialty Contractor

Repairs to Plaster Cracks
Cures for Calcimine Ceilings
Hanging by a Hair — Techniques for Reattaching Plaster Ceilings




The Importance of Climate Control to Protect Your Building

Climate control is an important consideration for historic building maintenance. We are all familiar with the large temperature swings experienced in the Northeast climate, and buildings experience temperatures ranging from -30° below freezing to 100° in the sun just like we do! Just as we desire cooling relief and the warmth of the furnace for our quality of life- buildings need these things just as much to preserve their quality. Significant fluctuations in building temperature directly (and possibly negatively) impact the longevity of your preservation efforts. As you consider your building maintenance plan, and before you invest in a preservation effort, consider the importance of climate control.

Large swings in temperature cause all surfaces to expand and contract accordingly. These changes in surface tensions cause considerable stress on all building materials, as well as the contents of the building. The unfortunate result of these changing surface tensions is eventual failure of plaster, paint, glue and nails. As the many surfaces move, interior paint begins to crack and alligator, plaster cracks and releases from its lath or base surface, nails bend or break, and glue cracks, flakes and withers away. In addition to the building itself, large temperature changes threaten the preservation of manuscripts and documents, furniture and fixtures, antiques, and other important building contents.

If you use the building during the colder months at all, it is more cost effective to maintain a minimum temperature and bring the building up to comfortable temperature than to attempt to bring the building from 10° to 68° on any regular basis.

It is our recommendation that the building heat be maintained throughout the colder months at 50°-55° Fahrenheit which is considered 'Museum Temperature', the minimum temperature preferred by museum curators, art historians and historic preservation professionals. This is a solid first-step toward protecting your important historic building and its contents.

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5 Biggest Restoration Mistakes

1. Skipping the necessary research and investigation to determine the building's history, what the period details were, where materials can be found, what modern methods are available, and what preservation experts can advise and assist.

2. Failing to develop a Preservation Plan including the project timeline and priorities, budget, and maintenance schedule.

3. Investing in improving cosmetic details before restoring the structural integrity of the building.

4. Performing projects in a sequence that undermines previous work ~ finishing floors before the walls are repaired, restoring plaster before foundation repairs are completed.

5. Short-term "cures" that lead to more serious problems in the future (using inferior quality products, performing cosmetic cover-ups, etc.).

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Repairing Plaster Cracks

It is very rare to see older plaster without any cracks, and there are those of us that find cracks part of plaster's aesthetic character and charm - love plaster, love cracks. Cracking, however, can also be serious and lead to further plaster damage if not taken care of. Cracks occur for a variety of reasons, many of which are simply the natural reactions of plaster compounds and building materials. Climate and temperature changes, building settling and moving over time, weight loads, chimney movement and environmental stresses (heavy traffic, nearby trains, construction blasting) all contribute to plaster cracking. Cracking is further exacerbated by any structural disturbances or repairs to a building (foundation work, sill repair), leaving a building unheated during the winter, deteriorating framing and timber (rotting sills, weak floors and joists, insufficient framing), or water leaks. Some or any of these conditions are usually present in older homes and buildings. Click for more...

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Cures for Calcimine Ceilings

If patches of peeling paint on a ceiling or flakes of paint chips littering the room is a familiar site in your old house, your ceiling likely has a past that includes calcimine paint.

Being essentially chalk, the water-based mixture of calcimine paint contained minimal binders and glues for adhesion. Herein lies the problem for those of us dealing with peeling paint now, because this lack of active binder chemicals discourages modern paints from adhering. Over time, any paint coatings over a calcimine base will fail, chipping and peeling away modern paint coverings have nothing to "stick" to. Click for more...

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Hanging by a Hair — Techniques for Reattaching Plaster Ceilings
Most of us with an older home have experienced sagging and cracking plaster in our ceilings. While ceilings are affected by all the normal wear and tear that goes on within our houses - structural shifting, leaks and temperature shifts, traffic and vibrations - they have the addition stress of being at the mercy of gravity! Because ceiling surfaces tend to be some of the largest, unsupported surfaces in the house, older plaster systems applied over wooden lath have a limited life span before they begin to break and pull away. The good new is, they can be repaired and saved from further damage.

We have successfully reattached many old ceilings using a reattachment process which involves injecting glue to create a new bond between the plaster and lath where the keys have been damaged and broken away over time. This technique uses modern adhesive materials that are easy to handle and cause minimal damage to savable plaster, and will restore the old plaster's integrity for many more years. Click for more...

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Tips for Selecting a Specialty Contractor

We believe restoration is an art, and those of us working in the restoration trades have spent years developing special techniques and expertise to handle a restoration project with the sensitivity necessary to maintain historic integrity. Click for more...

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Updated: April 12, 2010
©Copyright 2013 Peter Lord Plaster & Paint, Inc. 24 Moody Rd, Limington, Maine 04049 207-793-2957

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