Church Restoration Specialists

Church Restoration begins with a company who understands the original building materials. This includes slate for roofing and historic lime mortars for repointing and reconstruction of stone and brick walls. Brookline offers a depth of expertise in the original materials for church restoration, with general contracting of all trades.

Brookline has new, timesaving technology for installing slate, which utilizes the traditional European hook-fastening system. Never before has slate installation been so fast as it is now with the Qwik Slate " system.

Removing the slate from a roof and reinstalling it with this new technique saves time and money, and makes slate roof restoration financially feasible.

Slate restoration is important to do on an annual basis. The predominance of non-historic roofing materials makes us think that a roof can be installed and then allowed to weather for 30 years without touching it.

Slate restoration begins with a thorough inspection of slates, fasteners, valleys, and flashings to locate leaking concerns and areas of possible deck deterioration. This is a reasonably inexpensive service compared to the repair options it provides, saving long-term deterioration of the roof and structure.

Brookline provides slate roof inspections and repairs, giving clients the power to identify problems early and budget in a way that facilitates preservation of their historic slate roof. Now Brookline makes it possible to repair and replace slate roof systems using copper and stainless steel fasteners to match the original roof. This can be done with almost any budget, as long as clients realize that maintaining a slate roof annually is critical to the long-term durability of the roof.

Church restoration should begin with a general contractor that has staff trained in the historic trades and committed to using original materials--slate roofing, copper work, historic masonry restoration, and lime mortars. Brookline possesses this expertise in-house, and has a network of subcontractors with a track record of reliability in the historic trades.

Church restoration can be a straightforward and do-able process. Choose Brookline to bring expertise in historic slate restoration and historic masonry restoration to your project. Sometimes the solution is easier than you thought.

Historic Restorations in Lancaster PA

So you've made the choice to live in a restored historic home and enjoy the rich heritage of historic architecture. What happens if something in your historic home needs repaired? If you lived in a modern house, you could just call a local handyman, but Brookline offers not only complete restoration packages, but the knowledge and skill necessary to authentically repair historic architecture without just splicing a modern fix onto an old fixture.

You may be wondering why historic restorations and preservation is such a natural fit for Brookline Builders. It is because that is how we were brought up. Character exemplifies the methods used in the original architecture, and these same traits are part of our core values at Brookline based in historic Lancaster, PA. We believe in things that last. Family, heritage, culture, and authenticity are exactly the traits which we were founded upon, and we seek out projects which put these qualities to best use. We know the ins and outs of historic repair and restoration methods and we are here to help if you need to repair a damaged element in your old home.

Historic homes have many fixtures which most newer homes no longer offer. Added elements such as ornate wood moldings, elaborate windows, chimneys and fireplaces, and real solid wooden floors. If you live in an older home, you know that this is just a small sampling of the rich features which some modern home builders have forgotten completely. You also know that your local carpenter or electrician cannot possibly hope to be of help in keeping the historic elements of your home alive while fixing even a minor problem. The team at Brookline knows exactly how and when the original was built, as well as where to find the right parts, such as period hardware and quality lumber, to add years to the life of your home, rather than to take them away.

Historic windows are an excellent example. There is just no substitute for the beauty of those individual wavy panes fitted nicely into ornate wooden frames. If heat is escaping from your original windows, you don't have to pull them out completely, replacing an old treasure with a modern replacement. If you trash those old windows, they are gone forever, taking a piece of history with them. The problem could be as simple as brittle glazing, a rotted mullion, or something else which could be authentically repaired with the skill and patience of a trained artisan. The craftsmen at Brookline know exactly how to referbish the damaged element while preserving the genuine integrity of the original.

Bringing new construction techniques to bear on historic architecture should not be done without care for the uniqueness of the original. Jon Owens and the other craftsmen at Brookline have been fascinated with the historic restoration and repair of old homes since the founding of the company. Jon has researched techniques which preserve, rather than replace, the cultural richness. A workman from your local yellow pages may want to use an industrial sander on your old wood floor because it's faster, but Brookline knows that the longevity and unique quality of the floor is lost this way. Skill, diligence, and a heart for the old ways cannot be replaced by any modern systems which have forgotten where they came from.

Porch Damage in Lancaster Pa

Porch Damage in Lancaster Pa?

If you have a damaged porch in the Lancaster Pa area and need a contractor to make the repairs correctly, we need to talk. Brookline Builders is the areas one stop home improvement business that will repair all of your porch damage. Whether a car ran into your porch or after years of neglect it just needs rotted wood replacement Brookline Builders is the one to call, we have done it all.

Looking for historic restorations on your porch to return the front of your home into a showpiece? Brookline has a complete mill shop ready and able to make any piece of replacement trim or baluster.

Window Repairs in Lancaster Pa -- Brookline Builders

Window Repairs in Lancaster Pa -- Brookline Builders

Old windows are like the eyes into the soul of your old historic home. Don't replace them with new vinyl, restore them! Repairs to old windows can be likened to surgery and not something that should be taken lightly. Once the old wavy glass has been broken or the sash has been tossed into the dump it is gone forever.

Consider the vinyl windows and the repairs to them? Did you know that it is almost impossible to repair a vinyl window? When a new vinyl window sill breaks it must be tossed into the landfill and as vinyl ages in the sun it becomes more brittle. All vinyl windows will end up into the landfill.

If you have old historic windows that need to be replaced, consider repairs instead. Did you know that if you install a good new storm window that has Low-E glass it will act as a protector to your repaired, reglazed and repainted historic windows. I have seen old sash last 15 years or more without maintenance when protected by a good storm window. The storm window doesn't protect the window sill or outside jamb and these will require regular maintenance even if you do have a storm window.

Solid wood windows can be repaired over and over again. The glass can be reglazed, if the wood rots it can be either repaired or replaced. Act Green and don't install vinyl windows.

Brookline Builders has been restoring old homes in Lancaster Pa for over 20 years.

Portland or Lime Mortar for Repointing Lancaster Brick Homes

Portland or Lime Mortar for Repointing Lancaster Brick Homes? If your home was built about one hundred years ago, it most likely has softer clay bricks that have been laid using Natural Lime Mortar. The lime mortar is softer than present day Portland mortar and will eventually wash out if water is allowed to compromise the structure. If the old lime mortar has been washed out from the mortar joints in your brick wall or chimney NEVER repoint using Portland cement.

The City of Lancaster Pa is full of very old masonry structures that may need some masonry repairs. If the repairs are made using hard Portland cement on old soft bricks, the hard Portland will act as a chisel to the face of the brick causing a spalling effect on the face of the brick. Spalling means that the outward 1/4" face of the brick breaks away from the rest of that brick. It is unsightly and destructive to the building.

Portland repointing of bricks in the cold wintery weather of Lancaster Pa will trap any moisture in the brick due to the fact that Portland is waterproof but the bricks aren't. Therefore during a freeze cycle, the moisture that has been trapped in the brick freezes, expands and acts as a hard chisel to the soft brick face.

Natural Lime Mortar allows the moisture to escape from the mortar joint and also is malleable so if the brick expands due to freezing moisture, it doesn't act as a chisel on the old soft brick face.

Brookline Builders a Lancaster Pa historic restorations contractor specializing in all types of historic restorations including masonry, slate, clay tile and all other historic restorations.

Preparation for Repointing Brick or Stone

How to Remove Mortar Before Repointing

The biggest challenge in restoring masonry walls and buildings is replacing Portland-cement-based mortars with a natural lime mortar. The difference between the two is easy to determine. Using a pointing chisel to remove lime mortar is quite easy; the mortar is soft and breaks easily in front ofthe chisel. Portland-based mortars are quite hard, and hand-chiseling takes many blows from the hammer to remove just a couple inches of joint.

This hard mortar is very damaging for brick and soft stone. One reason they are so damaging is that Portland-based mortars (Type N, Type S, and most mortars available today) are not water permeable, so they do not allow moisture to escape from the wall. Also, Portland-based mortar is not flexible, but brittle, so the masonry units are stressed by freezing temperatures and imperceptible building movements. This can take the faces of brick right off of buildings that should be preserved and protected. Natural lime mortar will wick moisture away, and flex with the small movements of temperature changes and settling that occurs in every building over time.

To remove Portland-based mortars efficiently, a grinder should be used to cut a groove in the center of the joint. Usually a thin blade works better than a thick one, and a 4" blade will cut through the Portland-based pointing back to the original lime-based mortar. Cutting the center of the mortar joints prevents slipups from damaging the original brick or stone. Special care should be taken on head (vertical) joints to cut only as deep as the grinder can without cutting into the masonry units. This can take strength and focused attention because the grinder is harder to control when removing very hard material. Center-cutting the joints relieves the pressure that the hard mortar puts on the faces of brick and stone.

The second step is to hand chisel the joints out. Usually the best method is to place a flat chisel right where the mortar meets the edge of the brick or stone, aiming toward the center groove that was cut with the grinder. A pointing chisel can also be used to go across. Pick a 2"or 3" section of joint and aim the pointing chisel toward the area that has already been removed. The chisels will break the bond between the Portland-based mortar and the brick or stone.

Usually the repointed joints are less than an inch deep, so removal is safe as long as care is taken with the faces of the masonry units. Remove mortar at least 2x the height of the joint. A 3/8"-wide joint should be chiseled back to at least 3/4". This will ensure an adequate bond between the new mortar and the brick or stone.

Once the mortar is removed, the joints should be vacuumed, or blown out with compressed air. A low pressure jet of water, such as from a nozzle on a garden hose, can also be used. If the joints are vacuumed or blown out, it is a good idea to dampen the wall before applying the new mortar.

Never use a pressure washer on soft brick or stone. High-pressure water can damage walls of even hard stone (like granite), so the nozzle should be kept well back from the face of the stone. Pressure washers often remove the beauty of the weathered faces of stone, including the green moss that can make a building look old.

What we do in Lancaster Pa

What we do in Lancaster Pa

Brookline Builders in Lancaster and all of southeastern Pa is committed to completing historic restoration the right way. Below is a list of just a few specialties that make us stand out from the crowd.

  • We are committed to using only lime mortar in our masonry repairs, no portland.
  • we are committed to not using new growth pine or fir in our wood repairs.
  • We are committed to not using any vinyl.
  • We are committed to recycling original architectural components.
  • We are committed to helping you save and insulate your existing old windows, not replacing them with vinyl.
  • We are committed to keeping as much of the original style of your structure.
  • We are committed to modernizing without sacrificing the character of your home.
  • We are committed to repairing your old original floor not simply replacing it.
  • we are committed to replacing only the wood that is rotten, not the entire piece.
  • We are committed to helping you stay in your budget.
  • We are committed to historic restoration and adaptive reuse.
  • We are committed to repairing your roof before just replacing the whole thing.
  • We are committed to not disturbing or destroying archeological artifacts that may be on your property.
  • We are committed exceeding the expectations of our customers.

Roof Damage from Snow - Lancaster Pa

Roof Damage from Snow - Lancaster Pa

With the recent heavy snow falls in the Lancaster Pa area the weight of the snow piled up on your roof has the potential to collapse the structure. As the snow starts to melt it will gather moisture from the atmosphere that will add to the weight of the snow itself so sometimes the collapse may not happen for a few days after the snow storm has passed.

Roofs that are in greater risk for collapse are flat roofs, roofs that have been leaking for awhile and roofing structures that have substandard framing.

If your roof does collapse do not attempt to enter it until properly trained personal have evaluated the structure and have temporarily supported it. Picking a reputable contractor to deal with the structural damage in a quick timely manner is of utmost importance to minimize the damage.

Brookline Builders will provide the complete package if you need emergency structural repairs to your home or business, from engineered plans, permits then competent repairs.

Historic Restorations; CHEAP OR NOT?

Historic Restorations; CHEAP OR NOT?

Brookline Builders is often bidding against other historic restoration companies here in Lancaster Pa. We often find that we are not the cheapest company in the area and will sometimes lose the job based only on price. On more than one occasion we have been contacted by the customer who chose to use another contractor for their historic restorations project because that project went awry. We have often been asked to come back and take over the project.

Don't be fooled, real historic restoration projects are not cheap because you can't cut corners without making a hack job out of the project. If you have decorative historic porch posts that are rotted the correct way to make the repairs is to: Install temporary supports to hold porch roof, install temporary supports for railing's and remove existing porch post. Take post to Brookline's shop, cleanly cut off the rotted section.

Install new mahogany wood, mitered and milled to match existing post profile.

Glue, peg and securely fasten new wood to existing post.

Sand the joint smooth, prime and paint.

Reinstall porch post, reattach porch railings and remove temporary supports.

If this type of repair is attempted on site without removing the post it may be cheaper but the end result will not be fine craftsmanship that is required for true historic restorations.

Compare the proposals and make sure the wording describes the correct method and materials needed for your project. If the decision is made based only on price and not method, you may be disappointed. Whether your project is a small slate repair or rotted wood repair or if your project is an entire whole house restoration, Brookline Builders will treat it with the fine craftsmanship it deserves.

Rotted Joist Replacement -- Lancaster, PA

Rotted Joist Replacement -- Lancaster, PA

If you live in an old historic home, chances are you may have some structural rot issues with your first floor joists. Due to the push to insulate old homes because of rising energy costs, many homeowners have taken the suggestion to seal their basement yearround. Sealing your basement can be one of the worst structural things you can do, as it traps moisture and you will end up with rotted joists.

Brookline Builders has dealt with many historic home structural issues and suggests if you have rotted joists, the first thing to address is the water or moisture issue. After the basement has been dried, then it will be worth your time to replace the rotted joists.

Although there are several expensive options for eliminating the moisture in a basement, such as excavating the entire exterior foundation, parging the old stone walls, then sealing them with pitch, you also can dig out the basement floor, removing the old concrete, brick, dirt floor or other type of existing floor you may have. After the old floor is removed, you can install proper drainage systems, gravel, plastic or rubber, and then pour concrete.

If these are out of your repair budget at this point, here are a few practical and inexpensive ideas you can start with.

  • Repair existing basement windows to insure proper operation.
  • Make or repair a screen to fit securely into the opening.
  • Open the windows all summer to allow ventilation.
  • Run a fan to circulate air.
  • Install a high quality dehumidifier. If you try to remember to empty the bucket, chances are you will forget and the dehumidifier will not run, so make sure the dehumidifier either has a hose or pump option.

Once all of the moisture has been dealt with, then you can proceed with the rotted joist replacement. There are many different ways to address structural issues. The first step is to contact a competent contractor for a full evaluation and consultation.

Brookline Builders has been a historic restorations contractor in Lancaster for over 20 years. We specialize in all types of structural repairs to historic buildings including, rotted joist replacement.

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