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Cracking Limestone Old Building


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The front of this 100 year old bldg. has bad spider cracking everywhere. There has been very little patching of cracks. None of it has fallen out and even the badly cracked window sills did not feel loose. I want to recommend repair but grouting would probably accelerate its ruin. I also don't know if my client should buy into this. It is not a cheap buy. Opinions?

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A close up of that last pic doesn't look like limestone. It looks like a cast cement material.

How old is this thing? There are cast cement decorative elements on some teens and a lot of 1920's buildings.

The more I look at it, the more I think it's not limestone.

Got any super close ups? With real limestone, you can see the remains of old sea shells and organic materials turned to stone. This stuff looks cast.

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Yes. Limestone doesn't do that. Material matters.

That's cast. It's trash. I'd can it. I wouldn't even say it needs repair because it can't be repaired.

I know a couple of those up in Rogers Park....trash. The only cast I see that works is the new calcium silicate stuff, so long as no one sprays sealant on it.

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It certainly looks like cracking cement rather than stone.

I have no experience with buildings like this. Is that stuff just a facing that was applied separately from the structure or is it the "decorative" side of some kind of block assembly?

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Solid, no cavity, and from the age, I'd guess the interior wythes are commons and the cast stuff is an overlay.

The cast stuff from the teens and 20's goes all spiderwebby and to powder right about now. I'm guessing someone Thoroseal'ed the joint back in the 70's or 80's.

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I agree with Kurt. Cast stone coated with something. Looks like late 1800's to early 1900's. At that time the quality of Portland cement varied widely.

Although I am not fond of calling for further evaluation, this is a case where if they want to think about buying this thing I would recommend that they consult with a very experienced contractor or architect with a background in historic masonry restoration.

Or, wire lath and stucco over the whole building will buy them 10-20 years (maybe more) and then maybe the whole thing falls apart (I'm not recommending this as an option, its just what many people would do around here).

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Yes, it's cast stone with many previous attempts at repairs before the elastomeric coating was applied. There's no useful repair that will do anything long term. It was all cast with a horrible mix.

Around here there are many 75-120 year-old all cast stone buildings and buildings with cast stone details that have survived quite well.

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..............I would recommend that they consult with a very experienced contractor or architect with a background in historic masonry restoration.

There's about 2 guys in Chicago that I would call *experienced in historic masonry restoration* and they wouldn't want this job. This one's a problem.

I'm not sure where I'd go with this. If someone is interested in pioneering and salvaging a fine old masonry building, we got plenty of them, enough to not have to dink around with this one.

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Mike, Kurt;

If the entire face was removed and replaced, which it looks like the final answer will be, even if they started to salvage and were brought back to reality, and the building was free would the cost exceed adjacent property values?

In Baltimore there is a real issue in restoration costs vs final value.

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