Knowledge Base

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of alternatives including natural paints such as limewash, tempora, or milk paints. 

Plaster is another simple and relatively affordable alternative that has zero VOC’s!  Gypsum Lime and Clay Plaster are made with all natural products & can be integrated with color!  The plaster can be applied over existing drywall or traditional plaster walls.

Check out our all natural Products for sale as well as the Services we offer to assist you in your next interior wall project!

Yes, with decorative plaster!

Preservation Works Ltd. is an interior plaster & decorative plastering contractor primarily serving Eastern PA & NJ with an occasional extensive plaster project nationwide.

Using our knowledge & skills in the application of traditional plaster for the repair of older buildings, we use the same techniques & materials (like lime, clay & gypsum) in new construction offering clients a rich, natural, aesthetic, soulful alternative to often sterile machine-made construction.

Contact us today to discuss your next plaster project! 

You can do it yourself for small cracks/repairs, but plastering a wall, for example, especially by yourself, is not recommended. Depending on the size of the wall & if you have helping hands, it’s still not easy. 

If you want to learn to plaster, taking a class would be a great start, however, videos are available online that can give hints on how to plaster. Always start with sample panels, not walls in your home. 

Practice is key!  Making lime plaster takes a lot of practice and time, and high-quality fresh, natural lime is hard to find, although Preservation Works Ltd. does have Natural Hydraulic Limes available in our Products!

Keep in mind, lime is bad for your skin, and gloves should be worn at all times as well as eye protection to avoid contact with lime or plaster.

There are 2 common reasons: 

  1. There’s no cap on chimney or some sort of weatherproof top.  Traditionally those tops were made of stone or something called a mortar wash & over a long period of time these can deteriorate, especially since they’re usually not maintained.

Preservation Works Ltd. fabricates & installs chimney caps made of metal (copper or stainless steel), or we have them custom made & install them.  Contact us for details.  

2. Weather may have deteriorated the flashing between the roof & chimney.  Most often these days, flashing is installed with caulk & screwed to the chimney.

The simple solution would be “through-wall flashing,” where a groove is cut into mortar joints & flashing is installed into the wall. Check out the Services we offer to see how we can help you today!

If it’s in your basement or an area near a downspout/gutter, that could be your problem. Check to see if your gutter is clogged/cracked or if the surrounding area/masonry/mortar is damaged or in need of repair. 

If you would like to Contact Us for consult, it is important to send  close-up pictures as well as photos taken from further away to show the entire affected area.

 

 

Natural Hydraulic Lime (typically NHL 3.5) mortar should be used & cement should be avoided for historic homes/buildings made of brick & stone.

It is conservatively estimated that 90% of all masons use inappropriate Portland cement based mortars when repointing historic brick & stone buildings that were built originally with natural hydraulic lime based mortars. These masons are using what they are familiar with- the mortar they learned to use in modern construction.

Keep in mind, the use of lime in a cement mix (type S mortar) is not sufficient. Portland cement mortar should be avoided unless it can be shown that the original building mortar contained Portland cement AND that it did not cause damage to the original structure.

Minimally, masons should follow the standards of The US Department of Interior Preservation Brief 2., and mix their own type O or K mortar to reduce the chances of repairs causing more problems.  But if they are going to go that route, they might as well have just used NHL 3.5 from the start!

Check out the natural hydraulic limes we have for sale in Products

Product Installation Training & Fun Videos

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Rob Wozniak demonstrates spot repointing & mortar matching.

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Rob Wozniak discusses historic brick homes & repointing with lime mortar.

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This video will give you an idea about what mortar removal should look like. If you’re trying to repoint yourself, we encourage you to first read Preservation Brief 2, watch some of these videos & learn the basics. If you’d like to hire a professional, we know how to handle mortar – contact us today!

 
In this video, we show the damage that can be caused by applying caulk to lime mortar masonry & why repointing is the right solution.
 
In this video, a short discussion of repointing using traditional lime mortar at Elfreth’s Alley, a historic street in Philadelphia.
 
A visit to Blarney Castle and the lime kiln ruins on the castle grounds. A chance to see an old lime kiln up close. Many of the kilns in Pennsylvania are virtually the same as this one.

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Patrick Webb applies Mauna Loa pigmented American Clay on interior wall.

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Patrick Webb takes final steps with American Clay plaster on interior wall in 2018.

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Rob Wozniak experiments with American Clay plaster on interior wall in 2009.

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In this video, we clean masonry with the mighty ThermaTech, an English cleaning system that uses super-heated water to safely remove paint & other coatings as well as carbon/pollution deposits. This machine uses high-quality, recyclable materials, reducing reliance on harsh chemicals and boosting the performance of milder, environmentally friendly, agents.

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We were tasked with cleaning multiple types of masonry on the outside of a private home. This was a three-part cleaning process. First, the ThermaTech system was used with superheated water & low pressure to carefully remove any grime & moss on the limestone columns & clay tile patios. Next, two applications of Prosoco Restoration Cleaner & a lot of elbow grease to remove a number of masonry coatings of wax or floor polish. Finally, another pass with the ThermaTech to remove the last bit of staining.

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