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

04 May 21

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 replacement materials pose numerous challenges that require specialized advice to ensure the work meets the appropriate standards.

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 embraced terracotta as a medium for innovation and incorporated it into a wide range of buildings and architectural styles.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they employed terracotta panels to clad steel frame structures, a practice that continues to endure in contemporary construction.

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.