Recreating Historic Columns

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: