These century columns needed more than a paint job !
A cosmetic paint job is never the answer where wood is rotted. Sound, dry wood will last centuries if properly sealed.
A few years prior, I had advised against painting these rotted columns, because paint, especially LATEX paint, will prevent air from drying the wood. The result is akin to growing mushrooms: damp and dark are the perfect recipe for rot. (If you’ve ever worn latex gloves for extended periods, you understand the clammy and skin-destroying feeling that results. Its the same with painted rotted wood).
In this case, and in almost every similar case, painting will actually speed-up the rot process ( wood is ORGANIC ! ) and destroy the structural integrity of the wood, often beyond repair.
Such was the case here. These columns were structural, supporting a large flat balcony over-head…. and they were collapsing. Safety was of paramount importance. Add to his recipe for disaster the fact that the columns are on a historically important building and had to meet Municipal Heritage Guidelines ( meaning no Big Box knock-offs for this gem ).
What follows is a pictorial essay on the existing rotted conditions, and the process of crafting new period-authentic columns and capitals with gold leaf refinements.
For further information, visit this site created by our trusted colleague in heritage conservation, Christopher Cooper, here: