Cornice repair

The cornice had scared the daylight out of me for years, mainly because I didn’t understand its construction. And with that I had no clue on how to repair it.

This job was best handed to a specialist. I started asking around, and one name popped up twice: Ross from Bismarck Roofing. Ross and his crew knew their way around sheet metal work. And that included copper.

Ross had indicated that we could save the bottom portion of the cornice. The cornice roof, he said, had to be replaced. And so they began to cut it into manageable sections and carefully separate it from the bottom section. I contented myself with clearing all the crud that had accumulated inside the cornice. Cornice on a diet. It was a lot lighter once I was done cleaning.

What had eluded me was a solution on how to safely reattach the cornice to the masonry. Ross had a solution, and it was as simple as it was beautiful. He brought a set of plain copper busbars. He cut and bent them so they attached to the bottom cornice on one end, and to the masonry on the other end. This way the cornice was tied back to the masonry. The bars would prevent the new cornice roof from sagging.

What I really liked about this approach was its durability. The copper busbar bracing should last a lot longer than the old pine board bracing.

Ross went on to cut and bend the copper sheets into the new cornice roof. He moved the fabricated pieces back to the cornice, where he cut them to fit.

The new cornice roof was riveted along the edges of the cornice bottom, and riveted along the seams. The seams between each sheet were soldered together to prevent any water infiltration.

The timelapse makes this project seem to go so fast. But in this case, it actually did go fast. It took Ross and his crew just two days.

We now could finish the front parapet repair. That will be the subject of the next post.

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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