HP 306 Architectural Conservation I

Spring 2014

Lecture and Lab: Mondays, 12:50 to 5:20 PM, Wheeler 101 or as noted
Instructor: Prof. Thomas Visser, 207 Wheeler House, Thomas.Visser@uvm.edu

Office hours: Mondays 5:30 to 6:30 PM, Tuesdays 10:00 AM to 12:00
For appointments or to confirm availability, please contact in advance at Thomas.Visser@uvm.edu

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 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

Date & Place


Wheeler 101

Course Introduction
Overview of course goals, syllabus and web site
Preservation philosophies and standards
Field kits, lab protocols, info resources
Mortars: sands, lime, cement, additives
The Lime Cycle
Weaver, Chapters 5, 7
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
HP 306 Mortar Analysis Case Study: Fairbanks Museum



1/27 Lecture & Lab

Meet: Wheeler 101

Lab: Wheeler 103 & 106

Conserving Historic Masonry
Repointing techniques and guidelines
Appropriate use of cements and hydraulic limes in mortars
Making the Point, English Heritage video
Lab: Introduce Lab Project 1 (mortar)
"Jam jar and vinegar" field technique for mortar analysis
Mortar sampling techniques
Basic particle analysis
Sieving particles
Digital microscopy introduction
Analyzing mortar aggregates in microscopy lab
Mortar mixing demonstration
Reproducing appropriate mortars lab
Eye protection is required.
Clothing protection is recommended.
English Heritage AC1 Smeaton project on historic mortars durability
Sand Web Site

2/3 - Lab

Delehanty 101

12:50 to 5:00 PM

Laboratory Introduction
Hazards and safety protocols
MSDS sheets
Introduce lab procedure
Simple mortar analysis lab
Mortar analysis report format
Using mortar analysis template
Sieving particles
Before class all students must complete UVM's online Chemical Safety in the Laboratory and Laboratory Ventilation and Chemical Fume Hoods courses
Due: Lab Project 1a (mortar sampling)
Bring your mortar samples to the lab in ziplock poly bags.
Bring at least three additional ziplock poly bags

Bring Field Kit
Eye protection is required
Clothing protection is recommended

Download Mortar analysis spreadsheet template here (Excel file: MortarAnalysisTemplate.xlt)
(Laptop computer is recommended to enter data directly into spreadsheet during the lab. If computer is not brought to lab, print out four mortar analysis template pages before class and enter data manually.)
Weaver, Chapters 1, 2, 3
OSHA Health Hazard definitions

2/10 Lecture

Wheeler 101 & 106

Building stones
The rock cycle
Stone types and physical properties
Sources and finishing
Introduction to cleaning masonry and masonry coatings
Cast stone
Lab: Project 2 introduction (concrete and terrazzo)
Due: Lab Project 1b & c (mortar)
Weaver, Chapter 6
PB 1: Assessing Cleaning and Water-Repellant Treatments for Historic Masonry Buildings
PB 6: Dangers of Abrasive Cleaning to Historic Buildings
PB 15: Preservation of Historic Concrete
PB 38: Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry
PB 42:The Maintenance, Repair and Replacement of Historic Cast Stone
Scientists Turn to Bacteria to Clean Europe's Architectural Gems
Roman Concrete Discovery
GSA - Removing Dirt From Stone Masonry By Power Washing

Case study: Masonry Cleaning of Philadelphia City Hall

Wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear for site visits (weather permitting)


No Class

2/24 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101 & 106

Brick 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 3 introduction (brick analysis)
Due: Lab Project 2 (concrete and terrazzo)
Brick making c. 1850
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
3/3 - 3/7
No Class

3/10 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101 & 106

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 (brick analysis)

Weaver, Chapter 8
PB 39: Controlling Unwanted Moisture in Historic Buildings

Salt Attck and Rising Damp: Technical Guide... (pdf)

Dew point calculator

Thermal imaging & cultural heritage case study (FLIR)

3/17 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101 & 106

Quiz 1

Flat plaster
Ornamental plaster
Stuccoes, parging & renders
Lab: Project 5 introduction (plaster)

Due: Lab Project 4 (rising damp)
PB 21: Repairing Flat Plaster
PB 23: Preserving Ornamental Plaster
PB 22: Preservation & Repair of Stucco
PB 34: Composition Ornament

3/24 Lecture& Lab

Wheeler 101 & 103


Wood species identification and use

Lab: Wood species identification

Due: Lab Project 5 (plaster)
Weaver, Chapter 4
NPS Standards for Preservation and Guidelines for Preserving Historic Buildings-Wood
ICOMOS International Wood Committee Principles for the Protection of Historic Timber Buildings
Wood Handbook - US Forest Products Lab

Wood Identification Study Guide for Forest Technology Students

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

3/31 Lecture

Wheeler 101 & 106

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 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)

4/7 Lecture

Wheeler 101

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 7a (surface finish sampling)

Due: Lab Project 6 (wood conservation)
Weaver, Chapter 10

How to Paint (Sears, 1920)

The Home Decorator (Sherwin Williams, 1936)

PB 28: Painting Historic Interiors
Vermont Lead Safe Program
VHCB Lead-based Paint Hazard Reduction Program
Lead Paint & Vermont's Essential Maintenance Practices

PB 37 Appropriate Methods for Reducing Lead-Paint Hazards in Historic Buildings
EPA Hazard Standards for Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil
Lead Poisoning Prevention Fact Sheets (Minnesota Dept. of Health)

WWW: finishes analysis chart

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

4/14 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101 & 103

Architectural finishes
Basic finishes analysis microscopy
Color matching notation

Lab: Finishes analysis using digital microscopy

Finishes analysis using UV fluorescence microscopy
Due: Lab Project 7a (surface finish sampling)

Munsell Color System - Wikipedia
EasyRGB Color Matching conversions

Architectural Finishes Analysis & UV fluorescence microscopy PPT

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 at UVM or via VPN)

4/21 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101

Quiz 2
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

US EPA - Lead; Fees for Accreditation of Training Programs and Certification of Lead-based Paint Activities and Renovation Contractors

US EPA - Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers and Schools (pdf)

IN HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROJECTS (PA Bureau for Historic Preservation)

Vermont Regulations for Lead Control

Burlington, Vermont, Lead Safety Ordinance

4/28 Lecture & Lab

Wheeler 101 & 106

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

Due: Lab Project 8 (paint condition survey and treatments)

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 separate nearby locations, each between 5 and 10 grams (about the size of a thumbnail or a pat of butter). Place each sample in a separate sealable poly bag and label with the following information: your name, sample number, building name, building location, sample location, date of sampling. Bring your samples to the lab class for part b.

1b. Basic mortar analysis

Perform a basic mortar analysis on one sample from your building. Save your second sample for future reference. Determine the proportions of aggregate, binder and fines by weight.

Analyze the aggregate through microscopic analysis and sieving. 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.
Link to procedure.

Download mortar analysis template Excel file.

1c. Producing appropriate mortars 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. Present an illustrated bound written report that summarizes your findings from 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. Concrete, terrazzo

Select an area of older concrete or terrazzo in a UVM building or other suitable 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.
3. 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.
4. Moisture, humidity, and rising damp

Survey an interior exposed masonry surface of at least 30 square feet in Wheeler House or other historic campus 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 map overlays  for the subsurface moisture findings.
 5. Plaster and parging Select an area of flat or ornamental plaster or parging in or on a UVM building or other suitable building.
Assess and document its condition. Provide treatment recommendations for its maintenance and conservation. Submit your findings in a written report with illustrations.
 6. 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.
 7a. Paint sampling Select an historic 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 sealable poly bag and label with the following information: sample number, building name, building location, sample location, date of sampling, your name.
7b. 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 historic building with some historic 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. Provide specific recommendations for paint removal (if appropriate), substrate surface preparation, priming systems, and finishing techniques. List the specific products, colors and treatment techniques to be used.

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. 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 class lectures. 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. 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. All students must complete UVM's online Chemical Safety in the Laboratory and Laboratory Ventilation and Chemical Fume Hoods courses.

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.

The six computers in Wheeler 103 with extended keyboards are connected to digital microscopes and are equipped with special applications for architectural conservation research. These computers require a special password for student use that will be shared in class. No personal files should be saved on these computers. Any such files will be deleted without notice.

Assignments and Grades

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date specified in the class schedule. Late assignments will automatically drop at least one half-letter grade unless excused in advance by permission of the instructor for reasons beyond a student's control. Grades for the lab assignments and the quizzes will be weighed as follows:

Materials from readings (books and web-based), class lectures, and labs will be included in the quizzes.

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.

Course Readings

Since we have a large amount of information to cover, the text and web-based reading assignments are very important parts of the course. It is your responsibility to keep up with these assignments. The following texts will be used for both HP 306 and HP 307.


Weaver, Martin. Conserving Buildings. New York: John Wiley, 1997.

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, sealable 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
LED UV flashlight
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.
Huges, 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.
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, November 5, 2014