September 16, 2020

3 Potential Causes Of Deterioration In Historic Masonry

From our previous articles you must know how hard the restoration process gets when it comes to historical buildings that were built hundreds of years ago.

To save a historical building’s original design and look you must do a couple of inspections, do research about the materials used in the construction process and perform tests before you start the actual restoration process.

Sometimes you would think that it’s easier to just smash it with a wrecking ball and build a modern new building on its place. Please know that that isn’t the way out. Old buildings have rich history and mean a lot to our culture and society. Destroying one is something you want to think about only as a last resort. To make the restoration process easier, you have to know what you are dealing with. If you can tell what the problem is, you are on the right path to solving it!

So, what are the main causes of deterioration in historic masonry? Let’s find out!

Poor Design/Materials

Many of our historical buildings were constructed with hardly used materials and not properly tested techniques. Today people have hundreds of years of experience and know what will last and what will not. Many historical buildings were built without such experience, that’s why you may easily find their design irrational or simply poor. Same with materials – we didn’t have such advanced brick and mortar back in the day, so why do we expect it to last forever? Any building requires regular maintenance and examination. When you are dealing with something old and historically built, it’s better if you do a more thorough evaluation of the materials and the design. Just like we told you – the more you know about the problem, the easier it is to solve. 


Many buildings built in the early 20th century used early forms of steel that can produce large amount of corrosion. The steel used in these periods gets rusted very easily and gains lost of extra weight from it. When a building is designed, engineers calculate the material required to hold the building together under certain weight and pressure. When the steel starts to rust, it becomes heavier and may deteriorate other parts of the building. Masonry may crack under the pressure and even more repairs may be needed. You don’t usually expect that when you want to clean your building from corrosion, do you? That’s why it’s important to consider every possible type of masonry deterioration before you start the restoration process.


Many things happen between the moment a building is built and the moment it’s demolished. Land settlement is one of the things that may affect the foundation of the building. When the foundation starts to move or break, the building will tell us about it by showing cracks. One of the reasons cracks appear on a building is the structural issues – such as uneven load distribution, which might be a little similar to the aftermath of corrosion. In some cases, it might even be required to watch the cracks to see what’s causing them. Our professionals know building forensics and usually see the problem after the first inspection.

We must protect our cultural heritage, that’s why taking care of old buildings is a very important job. If you have a historical building that is starting to show signs if deterioration, call us right away. We’ve dealt with many cases and know how to repair deteriorating brick and buildings. If you live in the New Jersey area than BR Masonry is your local masonry professional #1. Contact us today to schedule an inspection.

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From our previous articles you must know how hard the restoration process gets when it comes to historical buildings that were built hundreds of years ago.
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