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Miscellaneous Advice Related to Antique Houses and Buildings….

Old house building,antique houses,antique safes,old house building materials and parts

Getting an ancient structure, be it your residence, a museum, a building, etc.—to its original appearance, is not easy! The most obvious headache is hunting for the right tradespeople to take care of sundry jobs around the property and inside the property. Do not take up the bother of ringing around (for there are hundreds of companies) to find the person(s) most suitable to do your work. Just place a classified in a popular local newspaper. Those individuals who are jobless or between jobs, will definitely come looking for you!

For your own safety and for the safety of your property, check out the ones you have short listed. Not only should your workers be reliable, but also have some knowledge regarding restoration of old houses. There are so many aspects to check out—architecture, exteriors, interiors, timber features, gables, fences, garden and so on. No one is allowed to stamp your ancient heritage with modern ideas or readymade stuff like joinery items.

Now, even the tradesmen you hire require some help and guidance. For instance, how do you discover the original painting scheme and decorations of your property? The exterior walls can be paint scraped. Or you could take a peep into sheltered areas such as windowsills, behind meter boxes, later additions to the house, underneath fingerplates and rim locks (door hardware), wallpapers beneath architraves, and so on. Friezes, stencils and dadoes can be discovered with the aid of an oblique light from a lamp or a powerful torch.

Check if your roof has galvanized iron gutters and down pipes. If yes, then do not use painted metal sheets or glazed tiles or Zincalume as replacements—there is bound to be corrosion. This olden-style galvanized guttering will lose its protective film due to the purity of rain water if modern materials are utilized. There are no protective coats of metal salts or minerals inside the gutter, as are provided by roofs covered with unglazed tiles, fibro, or galvanized steel.

No modern hardware, especially screws (Pozi-drive or Phillips head) for your ancient structure! You need no worry about finding steel countersunk screws that come with a single slot across the head—the hardware industry is churning them out in large numbers just for people like you! While you are at it, collect a sufficient stock and keep it ready for whenever you might need these screws—have varied lengths and gauges. And be on the lookout for duplicates sold by fraudsters.

Did you know that masonry houses of the 19th century had the stucco coating on the exterior wall surfaces modeled to resemble stone blocks? So they are bound to have grooves—both vertical and horizontal—impressed into them. This special appearance was known as “Ashlar”. Once your painter has finished painting your antique house (especially a stone color), get hold of a carpenter’s pencil and run it along the stucco grooves. When you finish, you will be wowed by your house’s exterior look!

Okay, what about the tiles inside the house? They are bound to be a little worn and scratched. Remove them and place them in a kiln. When heated at around 1120 degrees centigrade, the glaze will melt and the scratches will get dissolved. Now, the glaze finds its place on the areas which have been chipped off. What is the result? Fresh and sparkling embossed tiles, making your floor look as good as new! Of course, it is up to you to decide how pleased you are with this present patina or whether you wish to remove it and order a complete replacement.

Why do we insist on this re-firing process? Any impurities such as embedded charcoal will be removed easily, for scrubbing or bleaching are no good. Even attached mortar or cement will be burnt off. Use your fingertips later to rub off leftovers.

Finally, brass gets tarnished over the years. A mixture of lemon juice and salt should work fine. The pieces are to be soaked in it overnight. The next day, remove the pieces. Take a soft cloth and use it to rub lemon juice and salt once again. When finished, use the brass polish. Something like a brass gaslight can be polished once and forgotten, but not all items. Where polishing is concerned, small items may be easy to handle, but the larger objects are best left to an experienced conservator. You could go in for clear powder coating to ensure that your brass retains its good looks for several years to come! After all, it is not a very costly affair!


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