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Terra Cotta Basements

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Bill K. - I thought you had a write up on structural terra cotta basements and the do's and dont's on Old House Web. I inspected a home today that had all the wrong maintenance over the years. I've searched the Old House site but didn't turn anything up.

Got link?

(I remember a discussion about painting the terra cotta with waterproof paint but I can't place it - here or on your site?).

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A home here in Chagrin Falls. Stone and Terra Cotta foundation. More layers of waterproof paint that you can shake a stick at. Moisture problems are rampant in the basement. Front wall has a horizontal crack that was braced at some point in time.

Maintence wasn't the best of terms. More like the care and feeding of. Don't paint, try to mount a big screen TV etc. I know there was some discussion on why not to use waterproof paint, especially with terra cotta, but I'm hitting dead ends. Was looking for authoritative source.

First stop was the basement because I needed to retrieve my Radon detector. From there it was downhill. The inspection was halted while finding problems with the roof.

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I don't know of any structural terra cotta that was manufactured to need any specific maintenance.

On that web site you have a pic with the heading "Fastening Furring, Grounds and Nailing Block to Hollow Tile".

I'd like a copy of it if you don't mind as I can't make out any of the print on your web site (that and I collect "stuff").

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Not much that I can add to what you already know. The conditions affecting that basement would have been detrimental to any material used for foundations at that time.

Just like skin-fired brick foundations, applying "waterproof" paint or other sealers on the basement side of the walls just traps the water and saturates the material.

The original of the image you requested is too large to post here, so I uploaded it at: http://historicbldgs.com/struc_tc_anchors.jpg

If you like to collect stuff like that image, and/or inspect a lot of structural TC buildings, try to find a copy of Fireproof houses of "Natco" hollow tile and how to build them.

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Thank you Bill.

Beat this summer's brutal heat and fireproof your home by building it out of Natco Hollow Tile! These terra cotta bricks are specially designed using the best clay and firing techniques, which ensures that your structure is fireproof. In addition, the large amount of air kept within the hollow tile insulates the building and means more savings in heating and cooling costs.

In this 1910 National Fire Proofing Company catalog from the National Museum of American History Library's trade literature collection, dozens of photos show the wide application of Natco Hollow Tile to buildings ranging from bungalows to mansions to bottling plants. In addition, illustrations of various construction details also appear, which would appeal to any do-it-yourself enthusiast. However, the Natco Hollow Tile are only used to create walls and require additional materials such as bricks or stucco to create a pleasant facade. One description reads, "The walls are waterproofed both inside and out, and are finished with cream white asbestos stucco."

We suggest that you stick with a safer stucco type for your future house built with Natco Hollow Tile.

It's a natural a/c and fireproof material.

Where on earth do you find this stuff - beside the Smithsonian Library I mean [;)]

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