Restoring an Historic Home? Don’t Make These Critical Mistakes

The Northeast is full of beautiful historic structures. Some are homes, some are businesses, and some are simply standing empty. Westchester, NY and Fairfield, CT are home to some of the most beautiful historic structures in the country. Restoring these old buildings isn’t always easy, and I’ve seen my fair share of botched jobs by people who aren’t familiar with proper historic restoration techniques.


The very first step in the restoration process is inspection. Inspect all areas to ensure structural integrity. Don’t go into an historic restoration job as a rush job to be gotten out of the way. The safety of the structure as well as those working on it must be taken into consideration first and foremost.

Clean Properly

Once you’re certain the structure is safe and the inspection has been completed, begin cleaning. Don’t use harsh chemicals unless absolutely necessary. Older structures may be damaged by some of today’s harsh chemical cleaners. Never attempt cleaning a surface you’re unfamiliar with until you do some research. Otherwise you may cause serious damage to a timeless item in the home.

Lead paint removal must follow safety guidelines. Never attempt to remove lead paint without fully understanding the process. Structures painted before the mid 1970s likely contain lead paint, and must be handled properly.

Removing finishes from masonry and wood requires a delicate hand. Don’t chip or sand surfaces using power tools, as these processes create deep marks that are visible once the project is complete. Make sure you use the proper techniques for cleaning and removing finishes.

Use Quality Materials

Not all materials are created equal. Choose quality materials over their cheap counterparts. Historic structures weren’t built using cheap or low quality materials; they should never be restored using them either. Poor quality materials show wear more quickly than high quality materials. Choosing to use cheaper, lower quality materials will result in repeat repairs in the long run.

Don’t Mix and Match

Flooring, walls, steps, finishes, and mortar may need to be replaced. Don’t just guess and use what “looks right” before doing your research. You may end up choosing something that does more damage than good.

Poor Design

Repairs must often be made to historic homes. Poorly designed and implemented repairs cause damage over time. Don’t rush headlong into an historic restoration project. Learn all you can before you begin so the finished product will be as incredible as the original. The purpose of restoring an historic home is, in part, to restore the original beauty. The structural integrity must not be compromised in the process.

Call an Expert

I’m not saying call me specifically, but please get expert help if you aren’t familiar with historic restoration techniques. These buildings have stood for decades and deserve the meticulous care that an expert restoration company can provide. Help preserve the aesthetic value as well as the historic value of these structures by making the right choices along the way.