Restoration and Preservation

When repairs do become necessary it's important to work with sympathetic materials and techniques to ensure a good looking and long lasting result.

When we are restoring a property, the first priority is to identify the cause of any cracking or damage. We then work to fix the underlying cause, and finally finish the repair to make it look good again - which preserves the property for the future.


Chimney Repairs

Chimney Repairs

We often adopt an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach when it comes to our chimneys, but repairing and restoring neglected chimney stacks is money well spent, says chartered surveyor Ian Rock

A neglected chimney stack can be an accident waiting to happen — the prospect of chunks of heavy masonry dislodged by storms, crashing on to the roof above your bedroom isn't a risk worth taking. So, if your building survey flags up defects, it's usually advisable to get repairs completed sooner rather than later.

One of the most common problems with chimney stacks is eroded pointing. In itself this may not sound too serious, but if left it will hasten the onset of more serious problems such as instability, and then repairs will become more costly.


Stone Repairs

Stone RepairsUsing our extensive experience, we can match any stone colour when carrying out stone repairs, using a reconstituted stone substance. Stone can also be impregnated to strengthen it, and waterproof it to minimise the likelihood of future water damage.


Repointing and All About Mortar

RepointingAll masonry buildings have one element in common: mortar. This is the material that separates the individual masonry units, whether they be brick, stone, concrete bricks or even glass bricks. The mortar's function is not, as most people suppose, 'to stick the bricks together', but to hold them apart — and to fill the irregularities on the bedding faces. Gravity is the element that holds masonry together.

At some stage in a building's life this mortar will show signs of age and wear, and will gradually become recessed. The mortar ought to be softer and more porous than the masonry units and will therefore take the brunt of the weathering process; this is more desirable than the alternative situation where the masonry units are softer than the mortar. In these circumstances the mortar will remain sound whilst the bricks erode, subsequently requiring rebuilding, rather than the easier option which is to repoint.

Most Victorian or earlier buildings will be built with lime mortar and, whatever some modern builders say, the use of cement in repointing mixes is generally injurious, causing accelerated decay and damp problems. One characteristic of mortars containing cement is their vulnerability to salt and even sulphate attack, and whilst this sounds esoteric, the destructive effects of salt attack are all too visible in roadside buildings that are splashed by salty water in winter by salt intended for the highway. Mortars containing only lime, either putty or hydraulic, and sand aren't susceptible to this damage.

Repointing 2The mortar used for pointing needs to be firm but workable and pushed firmly into the prepared joints without leaving any voids, and then allowed to firm up before the chosen finish is worked. With all mortars, whether lime or cement, it is preferable to have a slightly open texture finish rather than a dense, smooth 'ironed' finish. This might be one of the reasons why the simple 'rubbed flush' joint, where the filled joint is gently rubbed with a stick or rubber before a final light brushing removes any surplus mortar fragments, is considered so attractive.

Finally, care is required in protecting the repointed areas from rapidly drying out. Occasional spraying with water is most effective. The unwanted effects of heat, cold and rain can generally be avoided by tarpaulins or hessian hung in front of the wall.

Successfully completed repointing should last 50 or 60 years.


Rendering and Stucco Repairs

Restoration Stucco RepairsRender was traditionally applied in three progressively thinner layers, known as the render, float and set coats. Today it’s standard practice to apply two coats of render. The strength of each coat (the ratio of sand to cement powder or lime, if it’s used) is important and will vary depending on the type of brick or stone it’s being applied to.

In most cases, only localised repairs will be required, and the first job is usually to hack off any hollow, loose and/or cracked render. This will expose bare patches of wall which will need time to dry out before new render is applied.

Although rendering a large area is a skilled job, patching is less difficult. However, even in experienced hands, ‘invisible’ repairs are hard to achieve, so you may need to allow for redecoration of the whole wall.

Traditional lime render on old buildings should never be patched using cement; this will prevent moisture in the wall from evaporating, forcing it out to the edges of the new patch, eventually causing render to fail around the edges of the repair. Alternatively, the wall could be covered with a suitable cladding, such as traditional tiles, hung from battens fixed over the old render.

Stucco repairs are a specialist job, and we use traditional methods to repair stucco facades.


Waterproofing and Damp

To eliminate damp, we work to identify the cause, fix it and then repair the damage. We apply various waterproofing techniques, depending on the cause of the problem and the materials being worked with. There are many causes of damp in a property, but regardless of cause, we would recommend that action is taken straight away to avoid it becoming much worse.


We cover a large area of Surrey, West Sussex and London, including Brighton, Horsham, Crawley, Chichester, East Grinstead, Redhill, Reigate, Leatherhead, Dorking and anywhere in between!

There are so many skills involved in restoring and preserving period properties. Our montage below shows work we have completed, and some 'work in progress' action shots!

Also see our sister company Kent and Sussex Decorators