Masonry restoration is an umbrella term for any building service performed on the stone, brick, clay, or concrete exterior of a building. It’s a highly specialized skill that often requires a separate contractor but is one of Simpson Unlimited’s many unique turnkey building envelope services.
Below, we’ve outlined all of the major considerations, FAQ’s, and details around masonry restoration and the services we offer throughout Maryland, Virginia, and DC so you feel more informed and confident to commit to a building restoration of your own.
What is masonry restoration?
Masonry restoration is the upkeep and repair of different forms of masonry (stone, brick, clay, pre-cast concrete, etc.) on commercial and residential properties (learn more about our masonry restoration services here). Masonry restoration is a broad service bucket that includes various services for the upkeep of a building’s façade, including caulking replacement, concrete repair, window glazing, thru-wall flashing, masonry coatings, and above/below grade waterproofing.
Masonry repairs are often brought to our attention by a customer request, where a general contractor, building envelope consultant, property manager, or owner’s representative will request a site visit to provide recommendations. Even outside of customer requests, if Simpson is performing roof repairs or other forms of building maintenance and notice façade issues, we’ll always bring it to the customer’s attention.
The scope of work for a masonry restoration job is determined by a number of project-specific variables but will be outlined during the initial site inspection.
How do I know I need masonry restoration services?
Either the building is experiencing leaks through the façade or damage is visible with the naked eye. In either example, gaps in the vertical or horizontal caulk joints and/or cracked bricks or mortar may be visible.
When one of our masonry restoration experts inspects your building façade, they’ll be looking for deteriorated sealant that has separated from the façade, cracked mortar, damaged concrete, masonry coating that’s bubbling or peeling off, stains on the concrete, and anything that may pose a water intrusion threat throughout the façade.
Cosmetic and aesthetic reasons are also (and more often than not) why people reach out about masonry restoration. If you believe your building is in need of an aesthetic touch-up, learn more about our offers and book an inspection here.
What services are often involved in masonry restoration projects?
“Façade restoration” may be a more fitting term for the broad spectrum of work that masonry restoration often involves. The most common include:
- Thru-wall flashing above window heads. This requires that the masonry façade above the window head is removed to expose the back-up wall. Once exposed, a new waterproofing membrane is installed at the back up wall, and the previously removed masonry is re-installed.
- Above/below grade waterproofing. This requires excavation of soil and repairs or replacement of the existing foundation waterproofing system.
- Masonry/Concrete Coatings. This requires either brick, concrete, mortar, precast, and/or sealants to be replaced prior to installing new masonry coatings.
- Masonry/Concrete Repairs. This is the removal of existing mortar and installation of new mortar (“tuck pointing”), brick or CMU replacement, limestone repair, precast repairs, concrete repairs/replacement (partial and full depth), granite/precast panel repairs/replacement, concrete/precast crack injections.
We also regularly perform expansion joints, control joint, and window/door perimeter caulking replacement and window glazing (metal to glass).
How long does a masonry restoration take and what will it cost?
The timeframe and cost for any masonry restoration project depends on the scope of work. Small projects can last from one day to two weeks while larger projects can last 4 or more months.
Considering the fact that a large portion of masonry restoration involves working at great heights in difficult to reach areas, the use of bosums chairs, swing stages, pipe scaffolding, mechanical boom lifts, etc. all present wildly different timelines and cost. Determining safe access to the work area for our crews is the first major consideration we take into account when providing a scope of work.
Other variables that can affect the cost and timeline include contract requirements, weather conditions, availability of required materials, and other pre-construction requirements for the project, such as submittals or mock-ups of materials. Generally as part of the pre-construction process, the owner may require that a mock up is reviewed and approved prior to project commencement.
Once the materials have been approved, installation would then follow at all prepared areas per manufacturer requirements and/or best practices.
Should I be aware of noise, odor, or other intrusive masonry restoration factors?
Unless a project requires demolition work, like wall flashing or general brick/CMU block replacement, masonry restoration traditionally doesn’t generate much if any noise. Noise disruption is discussed early in the bidding process to determine approved hours to perform the work, though after hours or weekend work often incurs a higher cost.
In terms of our on-site footprint, we require little to no space on most small projects but larger projects may require extensive equipment, mobilization, and setup. Most projects require 2 or 3 masons but our largest projects can require up to 10. As always, however, these details will be discussed and determined well in advance.
Low-odor products are used as often as possible to eliminate the issue of offensive fumes on any masonry restoration project. Compared to many other building restoration services, masonry is relatively unintrusive.
What else should I be aware of before committing to a masonry restoration project?
One factor to understand is that because of the age of buildings in need of repair, no one can be certain what the substrate behind the masonry façade is. We may open up a section of a wall prepared for CMU or concrete but find wood or drywall instead. We’re always prepared for any outcome, but it’s a variable that could affect the overall cost and duration of the project. .
Another important element to keep in mind is that finding an exact material match for existing masonry, especially in old and historic buildings, is often a challenge. This is most common an issue in brick/masonry facades. To prevent surprises and ensure we stay aligned with our clients, we always make sure to provide a multitude of comparable options to our clients and ensure they’ve approved mockups of the material replacements before anyone steps foot on site. More often than not, they can’t even tell the difference!
Not all masonry restoration contractors are created equally so it’s important to ask for references and photos of past work to ensure you’re working with a reputable contractor. Masonry presentations are often the best indicators for a quality contractor, which is why Simpson Unlimited goes above and beyond to detail, discuss, and determine every minor and major element of your project before we begin work.
Like all building and roofing services, it's important to keep ongoing maintenance in mind as well. Building façades are relatively low-maintenance so should require little to no work (outside of cleaning), but you should be mindful of caulking and sealant joints. Urethane, silicone, and brick and mortar need to be maintained every 5, 10, and 15 years respectively.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to masonry restoration, but when done well, our customers are always surprised by how impressive the final product is. We really do make old buildings look new.
There’s a reason nearly all of our masonry restoration jobs come from word-of-mouth: our work speaks for itself. Simpson Unlimited is a member of the Sealant Waterproofing & Restoration Institute and the International Concrete Repair Institute so you can trust we have the most certified, experienced, and respected masons in the industry.
Learn more about Simpson Unlimited's masonry restoration services here and schedule a FREE Consultation with us today to find out how we can make your building look brand new!