Renovating Cornice Crafted From Architectural Terracotta – The Process and the Challenges

Cornice is an architectural element found on all types of structures, including churches, government buildings, retail establishments, and private dwellings. Before modern and durable building materials were developed, architectural terra cotta was commonly used to craft cornice. While renovating cornice crafted from architectural terracotta is possible, there are a couple of major challenges. This article will provide an overview of the terracotta renovation process and outline the main challenges of terracotta renovation that are specific to cornice.

Renovation of Terra Cotta: The Process for Cornice

When cornice is being renovated, the first step is to identify which sections of the terracotta cornice will need to be replaced. Then, a mold must be made so the replacement parts needed to complete the terracotta renovation can be cast. Molds often make this part of the terra cotta renovation process much more straightforward. While the original architectural terracotta cornice may have been composed of over 100 pieces, for instance, casting replacement parts in modern composites often allows terracotta cornice to be replaced with a single-piece unit. The replacement pieces for the architectural terracotta cornice are prefitted in the factory to ensure they will be compatible with the existing terracotta cornice. Finally, the replacement pieces are hoisted and installed to complete the terracotta renovation process.

Renovation Challenges That are Specific to Cornice

There are two major renovation challenges that are specific to cornice. First, cornice crafted from architectural terra cotta is often assembled using steel straps, and the individual cornice components frequently interlock. This makes removing an individual section of the cornice quite difficult. In some cases it is impossible, meaning the renovation will involve replacing the entire cornice. Second, the manner in which terracotta cornice is often assembled leaves it vulnerable to moisture, which can present problems during renovation. In many instances, water penetrates terracotta cornice and then becomes trapped inside. Here, it can cause the steel to rust and swell, causing further damage to the architectural terracotta. If extensive rusting is observed, the structural steel supports and the cornice may need to be completely removed and replaced during renovation.

Although renovating terra cotta on is possible, it is not exactly a straightforward process. The amount of the original terracotta that will have to be replaced depends on a number of factors, including the assembly method used for the cornice and the extent of rusting that has occurred. For many, though, renovation is preferable to replacing the entire cornice, as preserving elements crafted from this traditional material is often a top priority.