Leaders in the Spokane Preservation Advocates organization have come up with a novel way to restore old buildings.
They are going to do it one brick at a time by giving the public a chance to attend a free, hands-on workshop Saturday.
Those who turn out will get to practice repair techniques by working on a pair of classic brick homes at 538 and 540 W. Sinto Ave.
The workshop runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Snacks and lunch are planned. Work clothing, gloves and eye protection are recommended. Bring a masonry trowel if you have one.
“A lot of people have these kinds of homes,” said Gary Lauerman of the preservation advocates, but many homeowners repair them incorrectly.
The event is part of SPA’s series of “Doing It” projects in which volunteers put on their work clothes and lend a hand on restoration work in the Spokane area.
SPA is enlisting the help of the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Local No. 3 to provide instruction and tips on masonry repair.
Dave Frangione, apprenticeship coordinator for the union, said the biggest mistake homeowners make in trying to “repoint” or “tuck point” their brickwork is to use the wrong type or color of mortar.
A look around the city at all of the poorly repaired chimney tops is enough to confirm that too many folks are not paying attention to proper craft techniques. Frangione said it’s smart to get an analysis of the mortar composition, and then match that material, before doing any work.
For starters, masonry companies such as Central Pre-Mix have labs that can recreate a historic mortar mix, Frangione said.
The two homes that will be repaired at the workshop have a sand-and-lime mix that was typical around the turn of the 20th century, when the houses were built.
Frangione plans to match that mix and add dye to it to recreate its yellowish color.
He also plans to show participants how to fix masonry that is in contact with moisture.
Repairing and saving brick homes is not only important for preservation, it also reduces the use of energy and materials, Frangione said.