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How Building Restoration and Preservation Works

No building lasts forever, no matter how well it was constructed. As a result, restoration and preservation work is required from time to time, especially on (but not limited to) historic buildings. Buildings that have been restored and preserved in this way often look better than they did before and can last for many more years to come. Because many buildings have been constructed using metal elements over the past few centuries, there are unique methods that will need to be implemented to preserve and restore such buildings.


What Does Restoration and Preservation Entail?

There are a few different ways to restore and preserve a building. One common method is to use chemicals to remove the dirt, dust, and other particles that have build up on the surface of the building over time. This can be done by power washing the building or using a special chemical cleaner.

Another way to restore and preserve a building is to make repairs to the structure itself. This could involve fixing cracks in the foundation, repairing damage to the roof, or replacing windows that are no longer functioning properly. In some cases, it may also be necessary to reinforce the structure of the building with special supports. In many ways, such restoration efforts will contribute to the preservation of the building.

Certain features, such as decorative elements, may also require restoration after time. Exposure to the elements can result in wear and tear as well as severe damage. These features can sometimes be restored as they are, but if they have been damaged significantly, then they may need to be replaced. In such a case, the element in question will need to be replicated to match the building's aesthetic.


Building Restoration and Preservation Services

Different parts of a building require different types of restoration and preservation work. The following are some of the specific metal restoration and preservation services that we provide for both historic and modern buildings:

Sheet Metal 

Sheet metal refers to thin flat pieces of metal that can be easily cut, bent, and stamped into an unlimited amount of shapes and designs. Due to how flexible it is to design various building elements, sheet metal is a favourite material of many architects.

Sheet metal is used in the construction of roofs, flashing, gutters, domes, steeples, cupolas, and much more. Although metal materials were certainly commonplace in the design of older buildings, it has become particularly vital to the construction of modern buildings. Because exterior metal surfaces are constantly bombarded by the elements, including rain, ice, and snow, they can be vulnerable to rust and corrosion over time.

Preserving Sheet Metal

Applying a protective coating layer helps preserve the metal and prevent damage. There are a number of different types of coatings that can be used for sheet metal preservation, and the most common are paint, powder coating, and anodizing.

When selecting a coating for sheet metal preservation, it is important to consider the environment in which the metal will be exposed. For example, coatings that are designed for outdoor use will need to be able to withstand UV exposure and extreme temperatures.

It is also important to consider the appearance of the coating. Some coatings, such as paint, can be applied in various colours, while others are available in a limited range of shades.

Restoring Sheet Metal

As far as restoration goes, sheet metal that has been damaged by rust or corrosion can sometimes be repaired. This typically requires sanding down the affected area and then reapplying a coating layer. In some cases, however, the damage may be too severe, and the metal will need to be replaced. If this is the case, it is important to match the new sheet metal to the existing metal on the building.


Metal Roofs and Walls

Metal roofs and walls have become more and more popular in modern construction over the past few decades due to their durability, resistance to damage, and energy-efficient qualities (metal tends to bounce back heat in the summers while keeping heat trapped inside during the winters). They are also much easier to restore or replace than other materials.

Despite their durability, they will experience wear and tear eventually, especially in the northern parts of North America, where snow, ice, and rain are more common. This can lead to chips, scratches, and dents. In some cases, the metal may even start to rust or corrode.

Preserving Metal Roofs and Walls

You can limit the wear and tear by preserving your metal roof and walls using a coat of paint or a powder coating. Applying a sealant every few years can also help to protect the metal from the elements.

Restoring Metal Roofs and Walls

If the metal has been severely damaged, it may need to be replaced. In this case, it is important to find a qualified contractor who can match the new metal to the existing metal on the building. When it comes to metal roofing and walls, specialization in that area is required for it to be done properly.

At Heather and Little, we can forge replacement metal roofing tiles and shingles from various metals, including stainless steel, copper, lead-coated copper, galvanized steel, and zinc. Many historic metal tiles were hand stamped. We can replicate any metal tile stampings to match the existing design and create new patterns. We can do the same for any sheet metal wall system.

Doors & Windows 

Many windows and doors were and continue to be designed with clad metal to make them more secure and more damage-resistant. Metal-clad windows and doors are also known as "kalamein" windows and doors.

Despite their durability, metal-clad doors and windows can still show signs of wear and tear.  In some cases, the door or window may no longer function properly. It is important to perform a door or window restoration when this happens.

Preserving Doors and Windows

When preserving kalamein doors and kalamein windows, it is important to consider the environment in which they will be used. For example, coatings that are designed for outdoor use will need to be able to withstand UV exposure and extreme temperatures.

It is also important to consider the appearance of the coating. Some coatings, such as paint and powder coating, can be tinted to match the colour of the building. Anodizing is available in various colours, but it cannot be tinted.

Restoring Doors and Windows

If the metal elements of your windows and doors have been damaged, we may be able to restore them to their previous condition. However, if the windows or doors in question have been damaged past the preservation point, then it may be necessary to replace them entirely. When replacing doors and windows, it is important to use materials that match the style of the building.

At Heather & Little, we can produce metal-clad replacements that will match the building's existing windows and doors using copper, zinc, stainless steel, galvanized steel, and bronze. We can also replace metal-covered wood trim. If replacement is required, we can work from original drawings or photographs and implement traditional and modern techniques to achieve the ideal result.


Ornamental Decorative Sheet Metal

Metal has been used throughout history to create ornamental designs on buildings. This is in part because of how flexible and durable metal materials are and in part because of the unique aesthetic that they provide. Ornamental features commonly crafted out of metal include decorative roof finials, cresting, balustrades, and urns.

Preserving Ornamental Decorative Sheet Metal 

Just like any other part of the building, ornamental decorative sheet metal will eventually experience wear and tear. This can include chips, scratches, and dents. In some cases, the metal may start to rust or corrode. Preservation is important to maintain the appearance and integrity of the metal. It is also important to preserve ornamental decorative sheet metal to maintain the building's historic character.

Preservation of ornamental elements made from metal is done in the same manner as other metal construction features -- through the use of sealants and powder coatings.

Restoring Ornamental Decorative Sheet Metal

If the ornamental decorative sheet metal is too damaged to be preserved, then it may need to be replaced. In this case, it is important to use materials that match the style of the building. Not only will we use a metal that matches the building's existing decorations, but we will also replicate any intricate details that were present on the original metalwork using any photos, drawings, or videos that exist.


Sheet Metal Sculpture & Statue 

Many historic properties, such as national landmarks, courthouses, and state buildings, have sculptures crafted out of zinc or copper sheet metal.  These sculptures and statues are works of art that are critical to our history and require careful preservation and restoration efforts.

Preserving Metal Sculptures and Statues

The first step to preserving metal sculptures and statues is to clean the dirt, grime, and other debris that can obscure the metal surface. Once cleaned, the surface can be repaired. This involves fixing any damage that has been done, such as dents, scratches, and rust.

The final step is coating. The coating protects the metal from the elements and helps to keep it looking its best. There are a variety of coatings available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. It is

Restoring Metal Sculptures and Statues

Repair is necessary when the sculpture or statue has been damaged. This can involve anything from straightening bent metal to welding broken pieces back together. If a sculpture or statue was severely damaged, such as in a fire, then it may need to be completely rebuilt. This process can be quite intricate and requires a high level of skill.

Thorough research will need to be done in order to accurately recreate the original design. Photographs, videos, and drawings will need to be studied to ensure that the final product is an accurate representation of the original. The material that was used in the original will need to be sourced as well. If the material is no longer available, then a compatible material will need to be found.

Here at Heather & Little, our craftsmen have the years of experience necessary to repair or recreate statues. We will first reproduce the structural armature and then cover it with hand-formed metal sheets. These sheets are hammered into or against forms using a technique known as repose (or repousse).



In addition to our metal sheet restoration and preservation services, we also provide consulting services. Our in-depth consulting services involve thorough discovery meetings with our clients, on-site inspections, and our professional recommendations concerning the project requirements, as well as determining the scope of work.

During this process, we will determine if the work in question requires significant repairs or if elements need to be reproduced. To do this, we reverse engineer the design and identify what modern developments and improvements can be applied. If you have a question about our metal sheet restoration and preservation services or would like to inquire about a consultation, be sure to contact us at Heather & Little today.

Preservation Consulting

And if you are looking for a second opinion on your project or have a particularly complex issue that needs a fresh eye, we’re here for that too. Tackling tricky challenges is our specialty and we welcome the opportunity to provide consulting advice, with the same exacting attention to detail we bring to all our commissions.

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