It’s key to know your maintenance cycles. Most buildings need tuck-pointing maintenance every 50–60 years. New mortar should match in color, consistency, and elevation. Excessive cement in the mix creates hard mortars, which can damage old buildings. Never grind out joints; only deteriorated mortar should be removed. Never use sealers as they trap moisture, creating problems during freeze / thaw cycles. Damaged masonry units should be replaced whole or via Dutchmen of the same material. Voids filled with putty don’t last.
Don’t throttle a one-pipe steam radiator. Keep the valve fully open or closed to avoid water hammering and squirting air vents. One-pipe steam radiators must pitch toward the supply valve, so use two checkers under radiator feet. Thermostatic radiator valves zone any radiator and save fuel. Hot-water and two-pipe steam radiators get them on the supply side; one-pipe steam radiators get them between the radiator and the air vent. Sandblasting and powder coating give the long-lasting, non-sticky finish. With steam heat, a radiator gets only about half as hot as the temperature needed to burn paper.
Use heartwood, it’s the most disease-resistant. Rift or quarter-grain cuts are the most stable. Flat grain often expands and contracts seasonally at twice the rate of quartered stock. Install plain sawn lumber with the heart side up. Flat lumber will wear better with the heart facing up. Learn to use hand tools. Most historic woodwork was produced and most machine-made millwork was installed with hand tools. Use traditional joinery. Component repairs should be made using traditional joinery.
Original plaster is important for any old house. Removing / replacing it can drastically alter the home’s historic appearance and value. Detached plaster needs to be held back in place, but plaster buttons can further crush it and create a surface bump that must be skimmed over to blend in. Glue-injection reattachment is a far better option. Fill in the cracks; dig out cracks in a ‘V-notch’ and infill with plaster or setting compound for a longer-lasting repair. Mixing modern gypsum plasters with traditional materials is a fast solution that blends in well. Coarse plaster best mimics the oldest plasters, while finish plasters create smooth surfaces befitting later eras. Practice your plaster mix and trowel technique in an open area before taking on a high-visibility repair.
To correctly care for your slate roof, find out the type of slate. Understand your roof’s longevity. If your roof is close to reaching its longevity, then why waste more money into it? If your roof isn’t anywhere near finished with its longevity period, then it should be properly maintained. Inspect your roof regularly for missing, broken, or sliding slates. Shop around for high quality slaters. Take some time to review and learn slate roofing resources. Your best defense against an scheming contractor roof damage is knowledge.
30% of replaced windows being replaced are less than 10 years old. Plastic parts fail and can’t be repaired; seals fail on insulating glass units or the glass fogs up. Your original wood windows have lasted a century or more and they can definitely last another. Consider the needs of each window. You might carefully restore the house’s front windows with several modifications, and some windows may need nothing at all. Adding weather-stripping can make original windows as energy-efficient as replacements. Interior air panels and curtains / roller shades also add comfort and energy savings. Routine maintenance is vital for windows, as doing so can add decades to their lifespan. 30. The original windows provide authentic characteristics that are not easily recreated.
To clean dirt and general gunk from antique hardware, use cleansers with natural ingredients. Remove paint carefully; a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water is best. Toxic cleansers can damage finishes. It takes time to loosen multiple layers of paint; check on solution-submerged hardware daily. When the paint loosens, rub it off and then finish with a light scour with fine steel wool (grade 00). The more specifics you give about a piece of hardware, the more likely you’ll be able to match it. Take measurements and pictures; if you’re looking for a lock, know its type of interior mechanism. Bring the original item with you to the store or salvage yard. Be flexible, as exact matches can be hard to find but a close match is fine.