Plaster Restoration & Stabilization

Halt failure and return your historic, decorative plaster to its original beauty.

John Canning_Waterbury City Hall (1)Plaster was commonly used in historic structures as both a construction medium as well as a form of ornamentation in the form of decorative mouldings, medallions, cornices, friezes, and other elements—often to stunning effect.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for historic plaster elements (both ornamental and flat) to crumble, crack, swell, broken keys, failing wood lath or otherwise fail with age. If you own or are working on a historic structure that includes failing historic plaster, restoring and stabilizing the plaster is the first crucial step to achieving lasting decorative paint and other finishes.

John Canning & Co.'s expertise in plaster restoration, stabilization, and replication is among the most respected in the industry. Our craftsmen do everything from traditional three-coat flat plaster and traditional lime plaster to the replication of delicate period elements. Just some of the techniques that our skilled artisans are adept at include running moulds, and ornamental fabrication, seamless acoustic plaster, integrally pigmented plaster, traditional plaster renders, scagliola plaster fabrication methods, and simulated effects such as ashlar block and textured plasters.

Our work with plaster has evolved to include complex conservation and stabilization projects that other firms wouldn't even attempt. By applying our creative problem-solving methods to the demands of failing plaster substrates, we have arrived at innovative solutions to demanding problems.

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Testimonials

"Canning’s thorough knowledge of period decoration and methodology, as well as traditional materials, was a valuable contribution to the project team.”

— AMANDA EDWARDS, PA-AIC, LEED GREEN ASSOC., JOHN MILNER ASSOCIATES, INC. ARCHITECTS, ARCHEOLOGISTS, PLANNERS, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

“It has been my pleasure to work with the John Canning & Co. for over 15 years. Their talent and skill in execution is unique in the arena of historic restoration projects.”

— MICHAEL A. MACDONALD, DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, DOWNES CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, NEW BRITAIN, CONNECTICUT

“We have chosen to work with Canning almost exclusively on decorative conservation work for over twenty years in recognition of their overall abilities.”

— ARTHUR H. PAGE IV, PAGE CONSERVATION, INC., WASHINGTON DC

Our Process

Plaster Restoration & StabilizationThe process of plaster restoration and stabilization varies from project to project based on a number of factors. That being said, the text below outlines generalized steps in our process.

At the beginning or each engagement, our first aim is to understand the history of the structure so that we can ensure that our work will preserve and enhance the historic fabric of the building. This may involve conducting archival research to help us fill in the gaps, but this is not always necessary.

We then seek to understand the conditions of the existing plaster and the underlying structure upon which it sits. The goal is twofold: First, to understand the cause of the original failure so that it can be addressed and resolved, in order to prevent future failure; second, to determine whether or not the underlying structure is sound enough to build upon or work with. It’s for this reason that many plaster restoration and stabilization projects begin with a plaster conditions survey.

After the cause of the failure has been identified and resolved, or sometimes beforehand, we stabilize the existing plaster. This may include reinforcement, consolidation, dismantling and reattachment, or patching as necessary. Once the existing plaster is stabilized and the risk of future failure is removed, the existing plaster will be restored as necessary, and recreated anywhere that gaps or damage exist.

Cost Factors

The exact cost of plaster restoration and stabilization naturally depends on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Whether or not the process begins with a plaster conditions survey
  • The size of the work
  • The complexity of the work
  • The location of the work, and required access (for example, whether or not scaffolding will be required to access the space)
  • Special materials cost, such as consolidants, adhesives, etc.

For this reason, it is difficult to say what the “typical” cost for plaster restoration and stabilization may be. The surest way to get an accurate idea of what costs your project may entail is to contact us directly.

Our Specialties

In addition to plaster restoration and stabilization, we specialize in a number of other complementary services, including:

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SELECTED PROJECTS

Our team provided restoration of the plaster, decorative painting, and historic woodwork repair and refinishing at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.

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Our team of artists provided the Rhode Island State House conservation, cleaning, and restoration of the dome murals, painting, and architectural gilding.

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John Canning Co. comprehensive restoration of Aesthetic period decoration designed by Richard M. Upjohn and William McPherson in 1878.

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The Philadelphia Academy of Music restoration involved analysis of up to 16 layers of paint aggressive exposure methods to reveal faintly ghosted patterns.

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Our conservation team restored the interior decoration painting, architectural gilding, and plaster at Rackham Auditorium, University of Michigan.

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We skillfully restored the 1700s plaster walls and ornament in Maryland's Old Senate Chamber using the original historic methods and materials of the time.

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We provided plaster restoration stabilization and ornate plaster fabrication in Morse Recital Hall, a performance space at Yale University School of Music.

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John Canning Co. projects at Michigan Capitol 1989-92 and 2016 required expert woodgraining matching skills, and innovation in plaster reattachment and distemper paint conservation, and every other decorative painting skill.

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Our conservation artists refinished the historic woodwork throughout the house, plaster restoration, and reproduced wallpaper of the Mark Twain House.

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Specialty contractor John Canning Co. investigated and restored the original decorative treatments and motifs of the historic Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

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John Canning Co. performed flat and ornamental plaster restoration at the Kansas State Capitol, a US Historic National Landmark

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John Canning Co. provided paint analysis, exposures, pattern documentation, and historic restoration of Elmer Garnsey's 1886 decorative paint, plaster, and woodwork design.

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The Canning Co. fine-art conservation team stabilized and conserved two, wall-sized WPA murals at UNH. The murals suffered varying degrees of deterioration and loss due to moisture intrusion and plaster substrate destabilization over nearly 80 years.

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This elegant Fifth Avenue Italianate residence became home to the French Consulate in 1942. Great care has been taken to preserve the historic decoration and ornamental plaster details.

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In the Secretary of War Suite at the EEOB in Washington DC, Canning Co. conducted the historic research, defined, and performed the preservation and restoration of historic interior decoration.

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Canning Co. combined preservation research, restoration, and conservation of the original Jesuit chapel sacred design with new decoration elements designed to adapt the space for secular events and student dining.

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Canning Co. applied traditional gold leaf and gilding on the Charles Bulfinch dome and Lady Justice statue atop Connecticut's Old State House.

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We were involved in plaster stabilization and creating a new ceiling and beam structure independent of the severely compromised Garrett Hall building.

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Our company's expertise in plaster repair and restoration was essential for the successful restoration of Hulihe’e plaster-over-lava-rock construction.

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We provided historic paint analysis and restoration of decorative paint and plaster bringing Waterbury City Hall back to its historical glory.

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Our team coordinated all work and trades, responsible for the restoration of all designs for the Art Deco movie theatre built by Warner Brothers.

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Our team carefully performed the plaster restoration, repair, reattachment, and ornamental plaster mould in the Grand Hall Gallery at Wadsworth Atheneum.

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Our team conducted archival research, hands-on investigation, and interpretation to inform the restoration of plaster, wood, and decorative finishes.

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Our team's historic paint analysis and interpretation defined the original colors and finishes of the State Theatre in Bay City, Michigan,

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Our team of artisans were the restoration consultants and specialty contractors for the historic Stadium Theatre decoration and finishes.

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We carefully conserved and restored all aspects of the Luzerne County Courthouses historic fabric: marble, metal, plaster, paint, and mural artwork.

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Our conservation team restored the plasterwork throughout the Colonial Theatre’s auditorium and public spaces, including casting ornamental plaster.

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We provided analysis, interpretation, and implementation of historic restoration services at the McKim building at Boston Public Library.

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The Canning Co. process of archival research, hands-on investigation, scientific analysis, and interpretation led to the successful restoration of Battell Chapel’s original Victorian-era decorative painting scheme.

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We carefully conserved and restored all aspects of the Luzerne County Courthouses historic fabric: marble, metal, plaster, paint, and mural artwork.

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