Cornice Repair, Lath & Plaster Ceiling Repair and Lime Render.
We have found the 3 most frequently asked questions that we receive as enquiries and have answered them here. This is in no way to discourage you from making a call to discuss your enquiry, filling out the contact form or sending us an email - more to reassure you that we have encountered most issues discussed here, either small scale or large and we hoped this might encourage you make contact. What generally happens is that Catherine (our MD) will discuss your project with you initially, either by phone or via email. At this stage it is always useful for you to email some photographs of the area in question so Catherine can more accurately get an idea of what you require and on what scale.
Then, there will be a mutually convenient site visit where she will visit in order to view the work required and discuss it with you in person, after which Catherine will go away and work out a detailed quotation that will be emailed to you with our T&Cs. Throughout this process we are open to your questions and we will be happy to dispense advice and give the benefit of many years of experience in the field of heritage plasterwork!
We look forward to hearing from you.
We've had a leak and water has damaged an area of the ceiling and cornice. Its only in one corner within the room - can you help, without the expense of us losing the whole ceiling?
Yes, this is a problem we deal with all the time. The effect of water ingress onto a Lath & Plaster ceiling and surrounding decorative plasterwork (cornice, friezes etc) can compromise the holding of the lime plaster on to the laths, thus possibly making that area of the ceiling unsafe. It also wrecks the aesthetics of the lovely period mouldings you may be lucky enough to have in your home. Water and casting plaster, once cast and set, do not mix and the moisture causes the mouldings to 'blow' - almost pop open, so the detail becomes obscured and the layers of paint start to lift and flake. See fig I. II III
It is easily rectified, firstly with a ceiling inspection that happens as part of the quote, so we can ascertain where the compromised area of ceiling lies and what needs to be removed and replaced. The lath and plaster that needs to be replaced will be removed carefully and using heritage techniques, the new laths are fitted and generally given 2 or 3 coats of lime plaster. If it's just the plaster that is damaged and the laths are in reasonable condition, this can be taken back to a sound surface. If your home is a listed building, then we would want to replace like for like, and use hand riven laths. If not, but you are taking the purists route in repairing your house which means using lime as we know it is far better in older properties, then we can use steel riblath to patch the area - which is quicker and therefore a cheaper alternative to laths. Or, we can board and skim but always use lime plaster.
Any decorative plaster features such as a cornice, can be hand repaired where possible, or we would take a template from the undamaged area and remake as much cornice as required to replace the water damaged moulding - this is known as 'Match to existing'. Our skilled Craftsmen will ensure that you will not be able to see where the new cornice is placed next to the original. See fig IV.
We have some lovely period decorative plasterwork in our new home, but it is barely visible under all the paint and is damaged in other areas - what can you do about this?
Again another problem that is very easily remedied and can be the most rewarding process for us. There are a couple of ways of undertaking this, but ultimately it is always worth doing this as there is nothing more ugly than layers and layers of thick, sometimes shiny paint, obscuring the detail of a period cornice, frieze or ceiling rose. See fig V. VI & VII
We have made this repair to entire rooms, by taking down a good section of the moulding that includes the repeat pattern, then taking it back to the workshop to painstakingly remove all excess paint and reveal the detail that was hidden. We would then recast as many pieces as required to fit the room. Or, in-situ we can apply a chemical solution designed for heritage work, that removes the unwanted paint with the help of a steamer, scraping tools and a fair few man hours. Its not our preferred means of doing this job, but it can be a time saver.
If we take the route of removing, cleaning up the section and recasting for the whole room, although the results are great, it is a more time consuming process. But, you do then have a mould that we can keep for you incase of any future water ingress. We have also undertaken this type of work on ceiling roses that have lost detail due to paint build up, or have components that are damaged and need to be recast. This can make a huge difference to your room for 48 man hours!
Our motto is 'Restore - Don't Destroy' some of these period features are 100's of years old and are part of our British history.
We have damp in an interior wall of our period property. Will Lime Render remedy this problem?
Using lime can only help the long term health of a building. Most houses produced before the mid 19th century were built using lime mortars and plasters, as cement was only invented around this time which was cheaper to buy and set more quickly, allowing buildings to be constructed faster. However, many in the construction industry are now rediscovering the virtues of this natural material for use in modern builds.
Lime is the perfect building material as it's carbon neutral, recyclable and much better used in the repair of old buildings as it can strengthen a building whilst keeping its porosity and breathability. It allows the collection and evaporation of moisture that cement prevents, so older houses with cement render are more prone to damp.
Unfortunately using lime to render or plaster your home, is never a cheap fix and many are put off as it's more expensive than modern alternatives.
If we can persuade you that lime is the way forward for your period home, the existing cement would have to be removed, either by ourselves or others. The actual render needs to be applied during a more temperate time of year, so either the Autumn or Spring. Lime doesn't set well in very cold weather or very hot weather, so consider this in your renovation planning.
With the use of the right type of breathable paints, both as exterior lime washes and interior paint, then you are making the right step towards making your period property damp free.
Watch this space for upcoming projects that might be of interest to you, and if you have any questions give us a call, drop us an email or say 'hi' on our social media; Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.