HP 306 Architectural Conservation I

Spring 2018

Lecture and Lab: Mondays, 12:00 to 3:00 PM, Wheeler 101
Professor Thomas Visser, 204 Wheeler House, Thomas.Visser@uvm.edu

Office/lab hours: Mondays, 3:15 to 5:00 PM & Tuesdays 10:00 to noon
For appointments or to confirm availability, please contact in advance by email

Syllabus URL: http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/306/2018.html

Course Goals

The main goal of this course is to provide an overview of the study of architectural conservation through an examination of historic uses and physical properties and science of common historic building materials and finishes. We will explore the composition and pathology of building materials and examine strategies for conservation treatments and rehabilitation.

We recognize that the professional preservationist should have a broad understanding of basic analytical and research skills, including a knowledge of historic construction techniques and the abilities:

Another goal of this architectural conservation course is to provide a background for preservationists who will be working with architects, engineers, building trades workers, contractors, conservators, architectural historians, preservation advocates, grant recipients, developers, property owners, review boards and others.

A final goal of the course is to help prepare students for professional positions in preservation that require the review of conservation treatment proposals, architectural designs, and preservation grant applications. This is the first of a two-part sequence of courses with HP 307 Architectural Conservation II following next semester.

Course Schedule and Assignments



Course Introduction
Overview of course goals, syllabus and web site
Preservation philosophies and standards
Field kits, lab protocols, info resources

Lecture: Conserving Historic Masonry
  • Mortars: sands, lime, cement, additives
  • The Lime Cycle
  • "Jam jar and vinegar" field technique for mortar analysis
  • Basic particle analysis
  • Introduce Lab Project 1 (mortar)

Lab: Project 1a - Mortar sampling techniques site visit

The Lime Cycle

Mortar Types and Applications Table

PB 2: Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic Masonry Buildings
NPS Standards for Preservation and Guidelines for Preserving Historic Buildings- Masonry

OSHA Health Hazard definitions



Conserving Historic Masonry
Conservation Laboratory introduction
Hazards and safety protocols
MSDS sheets
Introduce lab procedure
Lab: Project 1b - Mortar analysis
  • simple mortar analysis Link to procedure.
  • sample preparation
  • digestion & filtration
  • drying & weighing
    (Use mortar analysis spreadsheet template at right)
Due: Lab Project 1a (mortar sampling)
Bring your dried mortar samples to the lab.
Eye protection is required.
Clothing protection is recommended.

Download mortar analysis spreadsheet template here
(Excel file: HP306MortarAnalysisTemplate2016.xlt)
Bringing a laptop computer is recommended to enter data directly into Excel spreadsheet during the lab, otherwise enter data manually on printouts of the template and enter the data into the Excel spreadsheet later.


Conserving Historic Masonry


Appropriate use of cements and hydraulic limes in mortars

Producing suitable replacement mortars

  • aggregate selection
  • binder selection
  • admixtures
  • mixing techniques
  • curing techniques

Repointing techniques and guidelines

Lab: Project 1c - Mortar analysis continued
Sieving particles
Analyzing mortar aggregates with microscopy

Mortar mixing demonstration

Eye protection is required.
Clothing protection is recommended.

Repointing: Principles, Materials and Methods (pdf)

Standard Practice for Determining the Components of Historic Cementitious Materials

Lecture: Building stones
  • The rock cycle
  • Stone types and physical properties
  • Sources and finishing
  • Introduction to cleaning masonry and masonry coatings
Due: Lab Project 1b & c (mortar)
PB 1: Assessing Cleaning and Water-Repellant Treatments for Historic Masonry Buildings
PB 6: Dangers of Abrasive Cleaning to Historic Buildings
PB 38: Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry

Scientists Turn to Bacteria to Clean Europe's Architectural Gems


No Class


Brick, tile and earth construction
  • Brick-making process
  • Brick types and physical properties
  • Analyzing and matching bricks
  • Other fired clay products
  • Tile and terra cotta
  • Lab: Project 2 introduction (brick analysis)

    PB 30: Clay Tile Roofs
    PB 40: Preserving Historic Ceramic Tile Floors
    PB 7: Preservation of Terra-cotta
    PB 5: Preservation of Historic Adobe Buildings


    Concrete, cast stone, terrazzo

    Lecture: Plaster
    Flat plaster
    Ornamental plaster
    Stuccoes, parging & renders
    Lab: Project 3 introduction (plaster)

    Due: Lab Project 2 (bricks)
    PB 42:The Maintenance, Repair and Replacement of Historic Cast Stone
    PB 15: Preservation of Historic Concrete
    PB 21: Repairing Flat Plaster
    PB 23: Preserving Ornamental Plaster
    PB 22: Preservation & Repair of Stucco
    PB 34: Composition Ornament
    Eye protection is required.
    Clothing protection is recommended.
    No Class


    Lecture: Moisture in porous building materials
    Temperature, humidity and salts
    Rising damp
    Detection by observation, moisture meters, data loggers
    Lab: Project 4 introduction (rising damp)
    Due: Lab Project 3 (plaster, concrete, terrazzo)
    PB 39: Controlling Unwanted Moisture in Historic Buildings
    Dew point calculator
    Onset/HOBO dataloggers- resources
    HOBO Bluetooth data logger MX1101 video
    FLIR ONE - app link
    How Does Venice Work? (rising damp)


    Quiz 1

    Lecture: Wood

    Wood species identification and use

    Lab: Wood species identification

    Due: Lab Project 4 (rising damp)
    NPS Standards for Preservation and Guidelines for Preserving Historic Buildings-Wood
    Conservation of Historic Timber Structures(large pdf)
    Wood Handbook - US Forest Products Lab

    Wood Identification for Hardwood and Softwood Species Native to Tennessee (pdf)

    "Dendrochronology and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Carbon 14 Dating: a Novel and Potent Combination," by William A. Flynt, Historic Deerfield, Inc. and Myron O. Stachiw, VAF

    Leica AirLab manual for wireless connection to Leica EZ4W


    Lecture: Wood (continued)
    Framing and construction
    Wood deterioration mechanisms
    Decay diagnostics & treatments
    Use of moisture meters for wood
    Wood conservation, continued
    Patching compounds
    Epoxy consolidation and filling
    Wood protection
    Preservatives & insecticides
    Solvent-based vs. water-based borate wood preservatives
    Lab: Wood repair and conservation project introduction

    PB 45 Preserving Historic Wood Porches

    PB 26: Repair of Historic Log Buildings

    Taking Care of Your Old Barn

    The Effect of Ethylene Glycol and Sodium Borate Solutions on the Adhesion of Epoxy to White Oak and White Pine Samples.

    Capital Planing Mill Catalog (1892)
    Millwork Catalog (c. 1910)
    Dating 20th Century Buildings by Means of Construction Materials (APT/JStor)


    Lecture: Architectural finishes

    Paint: What is it?
    Physical properties
    Pigments, vehicles, solvents
    How is paint made?
    Lead-based paint issues
    Historic paint applications
    • Color trends
    • Exterior color placement
    Field sampling and identification techniques
    Introduction to finishes analysis techniques
    Lab: Introduce Project 6 (surface finish sampling)

    Due: Lab Project 5 (wood)

    PB 28: Painting Historic Interiors

    How to Paint (Sears, 1920)

    The Home Decorator (Sherwin Williams, 1936)

    Vermont Lead Safe Program

    Lead Paint & Vermont's Essential Maintenance Practices

    EPA Hazard Standards for Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
    Lead Poisoning Prevention Fact Sheets (Minnesota Dept. of Health)

    finishes analysis template

    Elihu B. Taft School - Front Portico - Architectural Finishes Analysis

    Bring paint sampling kit with:
    Magnifying glass or loupe (8X)
    "X-Acto" knife (large No. 1) and curved blades
    (or "Proedge" Pro #2 Medium duty knife and Pro #22 blades )
    Forceps or tweezers
    Field notebook (bound, grid ruled)
    Polyethylene bags (Ziplock type) for samples
    Transparent tape
    Digital camera


    Lecture: Architectural finishes
    Basic finishes analysis microscopy
    Color matching notation

    Lab: Project 7 (finishes analysis using digital microscopy)

    Finishes analysis using UV fluorescence microscopy
    Due: Lab Project 6 (surface finish sampling)

    Munsell Color System - Wikipedia

    Architectural Finishes Analysis & UV fluorescence microscopy PPT

    "Architectural Finishes: Research and Analysis," Dorothy Krotzer, APT Practice Points

    Frank G. Matero; Joel C. Snodgrass, "Understanding Regional Painting Traditions: The New Orleans Exterior Finishes Study" APT Bulletin Vol. 24 No. 1/2 (1992) 35-52 / JSTOR*

    Marie Carden, "Use of Ultraviolet Light as an Aid to Pigment Identification" APT Bulletin Vol. 23 No. 3 (1991) / JSTOR*
    *(accessible through UVM Library Ezproxy)


    Quiz 2 (wood & architectural finishes)
    Lecture: Paint condition assessments
    Paint deterioration mechanisms & diagnostic approaches
    Preparation treatments for chronic paint failure
    Paint removal

    Paint finishing systems

    • surface preparation
    • application techniques
    • tools and specifications
    Lab: Introduce Lab Project 8 (paint condition survey and treatments)
    Due: Lab Project 7 (finishes analysis)
    PB 10: Exterior Paint Problems
    PB 8: Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings

    US EPA - Lead

    US EPA- Lead Paint & Renovation Rules and Regulations

    IN HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROJECTS (PA Bureau for Historic Preservation)

    Vermont Regulations for Lead Control


    Lecture: Decorative Architectural Finishes
    Lab: Glazes and graining techniques
    Trompe l'oeil effects

    Due: Lab Project 8 (paint conditions)

    Clothing protection is recommended.

    Lab Project Assignment Descriptions

     Assignment description

    1a. Mortar sampling

    Photograph the mortar on the building before sampling. Note color, texture, and tooling marks. Record this information for inclusion in the mortar project report submitted at the conclusion of part c. Remove two samples of the same type of mortar from nearby locations, each between 5 and 10 grams (about the size of a thumbnail). Place each sample in a separate seal-able poly bag and label with the following information: your name, sample number, building name, building location, sample location, date of sampling. Leave bags open at least one day to allow samples to dry thoroughly. Bring your samples to the lab class for part b.

    1b. Basic mortar analysis

    Perform a basic mortar analysis on two samples from the same location on the building. Save remaining sample for future reference.
    Link to procedure.

    Download mortar analysis template Excel file.

    1c. Producing appropriate mortars

    Determine the proportions of aggregate, binder and fines by weight.

    Analyze the aggregates through microscopic analysis and sieving.

    Based on your analysis from lab part b, reproduce a mortar that matches your remaining mortar sample from part a and has a hardness appropriate for the location conditions of the sample.

    Record the results of your analysis for a professional report submitted along with part c with text, graphs and images that characterize the mortars with sufficient detail to enable a mason to duplicate the samples. The particle size distribution of the aggregate should be presented as a graph. Present in an illustrated bound written report that summarizes your findings from part a, part b and part c. Include a discussion of the existing conditions and characteristics of the mortar, describe the procedures and observations made through your analysis. Mention any considerations that should be observed by anyone planning to produce appropriate matching mortars for the building area sampled. Submit both an original sample and your cured reproduced mortar in labeled sealed poly bags attached to the report.

    2. Bricks Select two bricks for analysis from the collection provided. Analyze the bricks and report your findings with sufficient detail so that similar bricks could be procured that match the color range, surface texture, size, and surface absorbency.
    3. Plaster, parging, concrete, terrazzo

    Select an suitable area of older flat or ornamental plaster, parging, concrete, terrazzo or stone masonry in a UVM building or other suitable older building or structure.
    Document its composition and condition. Provide treatment recommendations for its maintenance and conservation. Submit your findings in a written report with illustrations.

    4. Moisture, humidity, and rising damp

    Survey an interior exposed surface of at least 30 square feet in Wheeler House or other historic building.

    •Record the temperature and relative humidity of the air using both a digital psychrometer and a manual sling psychrometer.
    •Record the temperature of the surfaces using an infrared camera (FLIR) and an infrared  thermometer.
    •Record the fluctuations in temperature and relative humidity in the space over a 24 hour period using a digital data logger (HOBO).
    •Download this information and convert it into an Excel file that can be analyzed and included in your report.
    •Survey the surface area visually and note evidence of rising damp or condensation.
    •Record your findings on a grid map elevation of the area.
    •Survey the relative subsurface moisture levels of the area with an RF moisture meter.
    •Record your findings on a second grid map elevation of the area.
    •Analyze your findings and diagnose and report evidence of rising damp or condensing moisture.
    •Present your findings in a short professional report with a narrative  illustrated with images of the visual evidence and  IR evidence, and with an appendix that includes grid maps showing the subsurface moisture findings.
     5. Wood Assess the condition of the sample of deteriorated wood, including a determination of its moisture content and whether there is any evidence of deterioration from fungal or insect activity. After preparing an area for treatment, use appropriate consolidants and/or fillers or patches to conserve a section of deteriorated wood. Submit your conserved sample with a conservation treatment report that documents the initial conditions and the treatments and materials that were applied.
     6. Paint sampling Select an older building with some historic finishes in fair condition. Obtain permission from the owner to take several small paint samples in obscure areas. Remove two paint samples from different locations, each between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch square. Be sure the samples go entirely to the substrate. Place each sample in a seal-able poly bag and label with the following information: sample number, building name, building location, sample location, date of sampling, your name. Conduct a preliminary cross-sectional analysis to determine the number of layers sampled. If the number of finish layers is less than six, then re-sample this or another building to obtain samples with sufficient layers for analysis.
    7. Finishes analysis Mount small pieces of the paint samples in a petri dish filled with paraffin. Perform a microscopic analysis of the cross sections of each sample to determine the number of layers of finishes. Submit a finishes analysis report that for each finish layer, describes the color and the closest Munsell color match as observed. Also, for each finish layer, provide a match to your approximation of the original color as applied (extrapolating from the observed appearance for the effects of age) with a commercial paint color currently available. (List the commercial brand, line, color number and color name.) Also note the type of coating for each layer.
    8. Paint conditions and treatments Select an older building with some finishes in poor condition that have failed down to the substrates. Document the patterns of deterioration and identify the various conditions that may have contributed to the deterioration. Develop recommendations for treatment that address the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that have caused the deterioration. Submit your findings in a professional report with illustrations.

    Course Expectations

    Students are expected to attend all classes unless excused by in advance. There will be no incomplete course grades for HP 306, except with the Graduate College Dean's approval for reasons beyond a student's control. Eating food is not permitted during this class and there will be no regular refreshment breaks. Cellphones should be turned off during all classes and computers should only be used for class-related business during lectures and labs. Web browsing, texting, e-mailing, messaging, and other potentially disruptive activities should not be done during this class. All writing must be authored directly by each student and all sources of information and ideas that are not common knowledge must be identified through attributions in the text or citations using notes. Plagiarism is not tolerated at UVM. For guidance on this see and Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It at http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism.shtml Please also review the University of Vermont's Code of Academic Integrity at http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmppg/ppg/student/acadintegrity.pdf and the UVM Student Handbook at http://www.uvm.edu/~dos/handbook/

    Laboratory Protocols

    Lab safety is of utmost importance. Eye protection is required for all lab work. Clothing protection is recommended for all labs and field assignments.

    For safety and security reasons, all HP 306 apparatus, chemicals and instruments must be stored in the appropriate places after use. Student should remove all their samples after use. Storage space for these will be provided in room 100 in Wheeler House. Hands should be washed after handling building materials and after lab assignments. The consumption of food or beverages is not permitted in the labs, including Wheeler 103, Wheeler 106, and Wheeler 100. Several computers in Wheeler 103 are connected to digital microscopes and are equipped with special applications for architectural conservation research.

    Assignments and Grades

    All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date specified in the class schedule. Late assignments will not be accepted unless excused in advance by permission of the instructor for reasons beyond a student's control. All written submissions should reflect a professional level of standards, being well-organized, prepared on a computer, spell-checked, proof-read, and durably bound with a cover. All sources should be properly cited following the Chicago Manual of Style format. Grades will be reduced if professional writing standards are not met. Please allow sufficient preparation time for proofreading and correcting errors. Materials from readings (books and web-based), class lectures, and labs will be included in the quizzes.

    Grades for the lab assignments and the quizzes will be weighed as follows:

    Course Readings

    Since we have a large amount of information to cover, the web-based reading assignments are very important parts of the course. It is your responsibility to keep up with these assignments.

    Web Resources

    National Park Service Preservation Briefs

    The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings, National Park Service

    Various Internet web sites including the National Park Service Preservation Briefs are listed in the syllabus below.

    A bibliography of additional course references is listed below. These may be very useful when preparing the assignments. Students are strongly encouraged to assemble files on various conservation topics with photocopies of articles from such publications as the Association for Preservation Technology (APT) Bulletin and other sources.

    Course Field Kits

    It is recommended that each student should acquire or have access to the following equipment and supplies to assist with course project assignments:

    Magnifying glass or loupe (10X)
    "X-Acto" knife (large No. 1) and curved blades or equivalent
    Screwdriver (straight point)
    Tape measure (25') or folding rule (8' or 12')
    Field notebook (bound, grid ruled)
    One box, seal-able small polyethylene bags (Ziplock type) for samples
    Transparent tape
    Indelible marking pen
    Safety glasses (These are required for all lab work and are available are at the UVM Bookstore.)
    Disposable dust masks or respirator
    Disposal gloves
    Hardhat (may be borrowed from HP Program if needed)
    Field and lab clothing (Lab coats are recommended for lab work. These are available from the UVM Medical Bookstore.)
    Pack or shoulder bag is recommended
    Digital camera or smart-phone
    UV protective glasses

    Course References

    (Most are available at UVM Library or "on reserve" in Wheeler 103 or Wheeler 100.)


    Bulletin, Association for Preservation Technology (At UVM Library, v 1 - v. 8 in Microforms, v. 9 - current issues in Periodicals)
    Traditional Building
    Old House Journal

    A Guide to Vermont Architecture. Montpelier: Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, 1991.
    Ashurst, John & Nicola. Practical Building Conservation. New York: Halsted Press, 1988. Vol. 1-5.
    Feilden, Bernard. Conservation of Historic Buildings. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2003.
    Fram, Mark. Well-preserved, Erin, Ontario: Boston Post Mills, 1988.
    Harris, Cyril, ed. Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. New York: McGraw Hill, 1975.
    Harris, Samuel Y. Building Pathology: Deterioration, Diagnostics, and Intervention. Wiley. 2001.
    Hoadley, Bruce. Understanding Wood. Newtown, Conn.: Tauton Press, 1980.
    Hughes, Helen, ed. Layers of Understanding, Setting Standards for Architectural Paint Research, Donhead, 2002.
    McAlester, V. & L. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Knopf, 1988.
    McKee, Harley. Introduction to Early American Masonry. Washington: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1973.
    Mitchell, Eleanor. Emergency Repairs for Historic Buildings. London: English Heritage, 1988.
    Nylander, Richard C. et al. Wallpaper in New England. Boston: SPNEA, 1986.
    Phillips, M. W. & Selwyn, J. E. Epoxies for Wood Repairs in Historic Buildings. Washington: US Dept. of Interior, 1978.
    Poore, Patricia, ed. The Old-House Journal Guide to Restoration, Dutton, 1992.
    Preservation &Conservation. Washington: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1976.
    Recording Historic Structures. Washington: AIA Press, 1988.
    Repairing Old and Historic Windows. Washington, DC: Preservation Press, 1992.
    Residential Building Systems Inspection. Washington: APT Foundation, 1986.
    Respectful Rehabilitation. Washington: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1982.
    Slate Roofs. National Slate Ass'n., 1925. (Reprints from Vermont Structural Slate, Fairhaven, VT)
    Structural Assessment. Washington: APT Foundation, 1986.
    Technology of Historic American Buildings. Washington: APT Foundation, 1983.
    Weaver, Martin. Conserving Buildings. New York: John Wiley, 1997. (out-of-print)
    Wilson, Forrest. Building Materials Evaluation Handbook. New York: Van Nostrand, 1984.
    Young, Robert A. Historic Preservation Technology. Wiley, 2008.

    Other historic preservation resources

    PB 35: Understanding Old Buildings
    PB 17: Architectural Character: Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving Their Character
    PB 47: Maintaining the Exterior of Small and Medium Size Historic Buildings
    Association for Preservation Technology
    ©T. Visser, UVM Historic Preservation Program, April 22, 2018