What can be done about damage to Glazed Terracotta in buildings?

Whilst the popularity of Terracotta in construction has declined, the historic widespread use of the material, particularly within our cities, has left an aging building stock with Terracotta in need of conservation.

Surveying, repairing and procuring of replacement materials presents many challenges and needs specialist advice to ensure work is carried out to the right standard.

Terracotta was first used routinely for decorative additions to buildings in the 16th century as a means of reproducing elaborate renaissance decoration without the expense of carving dressings and ornamental mouldings in stone.  It became popular again in the early 19th century and became an almost exclusively urban building material whose popularity was based upon its resistance to fire and pollution, its ability to be colourful and decorative.  Architects also saw terracotta as a vehicle for innovation and its use was applied in a wide variety of buildings and styles. In the late 19th and early 20th century terracotta panels were used to clad steel frame structures, and continue to be used in this form.

The primary cause of damage to Terracotta is poor maintenance and the biggest challenge in the repair of such buildings is scoping up the full extent of the damage because visible damage, such as surface fracturing may not highlight all the underlying hidden damage that has yet to manifest itself as surface fracturing.

If you would like further information about surveying, repairing and procuring Glazed Terracotta, Clarkebond Director, Bill Keane, a recognised expert on the material, has written a technical information paper which you can request here.