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Category >> preservation

Jan 15

Old MacDonald Had Some Barnwood

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: safety, repairs, preservation, millwork, hardwood, exteriors


What are the pros and cons of pressure-washing old barn wood, versus using a scrub brush?




Good question.   The best method depends on the condition of the wood and your intent in regards its eventual use.

Pressure washing, in most instances, may seem the easiest, fastest way to clean the surface of old wood (whether you are trying to remove the aged patina, mildew, paint, etc).  If there is old paint on it, there may be concerns regarding the hazardous release of toxins from lead-based coatings (harmful to people and the environment).  Refer to the EPA RRP rule for handling

Mar 17

Restoration Glass

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: windows, preservation


My husband and I have recently moved to an old townhome on Church Hill.  We have numerous windows in the house with cracked glass that we'd like to fix.  Problem is, the glass people we've talked-to cannot match our old, wavy glass.  It's either "perfect" new glass, or a fake-looking reproduction.  We'd love it to be the real thing - what should we do?

Liz S., Richmond, VA



Actually, you have plenty of options, if you know where to look.  Local architectural salvage yard Caravati's ( has a stock of authentic salvaged antique glass panes, which may be cut to

Sep 02

Barnwood Restoration

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: repairs, renovation, preservation, millwork, kitchens, DIY

Question for Mason:

We are finally after 4 years re insulating our kitchen walls. The drywall has been removed as well as a layer of old barnboards.  We have reinsulated and the vapor barrier is in place.  I like the idea of putting the barnboards back and having a rustic looking kitchen wall.  My question is how would you refinish barnboard? (this board is really old and has a rough dark colour to it).  And what would I use to fill the gaps between boards? 

-Tracy H



Wow!  This sounds like an exciting project with the prospect of adding a very unique finish to your kitchen walls.  I love

Apr 21

More Talk about Cracks

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: renovation, preservation, contractors

 Dear Mason,

My house was built in 1938. The walls are plaster over lathe. I'm noticing more cracks in the ceilings, including one that runs parallel to the chimney bump out, about 3 inches away from the wall. It actually looks like the part of the ceiling that is closer to the fireplace is a fraction (1/32"?) higher than the part outside the crack. The crack follows that chimney exactly. Is my house sinking? And do I just repair the crack, or is there more that needs to happen? Last, what sort of contractor takes care of this sort of issue? 

Thanks in advance for your advice.

Lisa C.


Lisa, Dear

Apr 16

Is My Crack is Showing?

Posted by C. Mason Hearn | Tags: preservation, millwork, crown mold

Dear Mason:

I live in a 1960's home in the Richmond, VA area.  I seems to be of good quality construction, but I have had problems with the crown molding pulling away from the ceiling, which leaves an ugly crack.  We have tried caulking it, but it re-appears after a year or less.  Is there something wrong with my crown molding?  What can we do to fix it forever?

Lisa B



Ahhh, cursed crown.  It's ALIIIIIVE!

Indeed, in all likelihood, that is the problem.  Most crown molding is made of living (or once-alive) material - wood.  All wood has a tendency to expand and contract with swings in

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