Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Reconstructing" Bricks

As I’ve mentioned before, when bad bricks have to be dealt with, there are, within my own methodologies — and also within the restoration industry — two ways to approach the issue.
For one, replacement bricks can be procured, as was discussed in this blog post.
Another method is to “refurbish” the bricks using a proprietary material, for example this one, which is a single-component, cementitious, mineral based mortar specifically designed for the restoration of brick surfaces. Furthermore, it is vapor permeable and contains no latex or acrylic bonding agents or additives.
As with any bilateral course of action, there are proponents on both sides of the debate.
In the Fall 2006 issue of “Traditional Masonry”, a former trade publication, there was an article by Loretta Hall, titled “ To Repair or to Replace — That is the Question”. It begins with the statement: “‘Solid as a brick wall’ is a nice metaphor, but historic buildings are often peppered with spalled, broken, or missing brick. Restoration experts must make a few important choices. Are damaged bricks repairable, or should they be replaced? Missing bricks do have to be replaced, but with what — vintage, salvaged brick or new, custom-made replicas? Not surprisingly, opinions differ on the relative merits of each option.”
Another tidbit of interest from the same article:
“Damaged or deteriorated brick can be rebuilt using mortars formulated to match the original material in both appearance and physical properties. “Physical compatibility will give you a long-term, guaranteed repair that’s not going to change in 10 or 20 years,” says Rude of Cathedral Stone Products. He stresses the importance of matching the repair material to the original brick.”
The entire article is worthwhile reading for a more complete perspective.
So “rebuilding bricks” is a bonafide method of approaching brickwork restoration, and one that we, at Invisible Tuckpointing Ltd. in Toronto, have seriously relied upon for years.
The picture below exhibits a typical example of our brick rebuilding process / result. The two bricks on the right have been reconstructed, while the unit on the left is original.
Heritage masonry is more art than science, I personally believe, and so my best advice in selecting the right mason for you is, in addition to integrity, to look for the creative type.
These two qualities will largely help ensure your overall satisfaction.

Contact me:
Toronto residents: www.invisibletuckpointing.com

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Brick fabrication

At times, it would be nearly impossible to procure a specific type of brick which is nevertheless required to properly perform restorative work on a particular building. In this case fabricating the brick may be the best option. This blog post discusses how we have done this for a house turret which required rounded bricks for a heritage masonry restoration project in Toronto, Canada.

As you can see, this brick, original to the building, is slightly rounded — just enough that it would not have looked harmonious to use a replacement unit of regular shape. [The next two pictures are of the original brick.]

We’ve fabricated the replacement brick ourselves.

As you can see in the two following pictures, it is rounded, just as the curved original Toronto brick is, and has the same texture and appearance and will fit harmoniously with the entire repointing (tuckpointing) project.

And two additional pictures.

The final result is harmonious, due to having been able to produce an adequate replacement brick. All too often, poor brick selection undermines the project’s overall success.

Contact me:
Toronto residents: www.invisibletuckpointing.com

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Customer elation

This certainly applies to any business, but I believe in not aiming in merely getting the customer to the point of being “satisfied” when delivering a service to her.
My personal motto is “I don’t want satisfied customers: I want them … elated.”
This is at the core of my business philosophy.
I price the jobs in such a way that I want to do them, but then I deliver 110%, and you get what you pay for. And everything is legal and above-board, as I’ve factored all my costs into my price.
In order to do this, I personally find that I need to focus on the entire experience, but the main areas are punctuality, delivering what was promised, respecting the property, maintaining good communication with the owners as well as the neighbours, and superlative cleanliness of the site and adjacent properties.
I believe the best marketing strategy to be the Golden Rule.
If you’re a masonry contractor reading this, think about what I’ve just said. In my experience, it’s the most rewarding path.
If you’re a homeowner, no matter where you live, if you can identify a contractor who, by all evidence, seems truly customer-oriented — and if your gut feeling turns out to have been correct — it will make getting your project done a lot more enjoyable.
Contact me:
Toronto residents: www.invisibletuckpointing.com