Preservation Update: Repairing Damaged Shutters

Senior Preservationist Jeff Larry explains:

Back in the August newsletter my monthly preservation update featured a story of how a leak in the Cottage Library led us to discover a rotted sill and a fascinating collection of items including late 19th century soldiers’ buttons and a hand written note. The sill was not however the only component of this window opening that required attention. Exposure to the elements had also effected the shutters and caused substantial hidden damage to the exterior trim and mortar joints.

The shutters at the Cottage are reproductions installed during the exterior restoration in 2005. They are mounted to the face of the window trim on “pintels” and are held open by “tiebacks.” In 2015 a severe windstorm caused both shutters to come loose from their tiebacks and bang against the roughcast stucco so severely that numerous “louvers” were broken, rails and stiles were dented, and the window trim was torn from its frame.

Anatomy of the window

Years of moisture intrusion had severely rotted the back of the trim and the decision was made to install a temporary flat piece of trim until a new piece could be milled that matched the original profile. Both shutters were also removed, dents were filled and broken louvers repaired. The louvers pivot on a small plastic pin. All of the broken pins were replaced with a spring loaded retro fit supplied from shutter manufacturer, Timberlane.

The shutter

Because of its location above a steeply pitched roof, safe access to the window requires the use of scaffolding or a mechanical lift. The temporary trim remained in place until this past August when scaffolding was set up to restore the aforementioned sill. Unfortunately, the remaining original trim was also severely deteriorated on the backside and required replacement.

Damaged original trim

New mahogany trim work was reproduced in a lumber mill to match the original but before it could be installed the bricks behind the trim work needed to be repointed and the wooden “nailers” replaced. Nailers are strips of wood placed between bricks (instead of mortar) that allow for a surface material, such as door or window trim, chair rail or baseboard, to be held in place without nailing into the brick or mortar.

New trim

Once the mortar had set the new trim was installed, prepped and painted. The project finally came to a close last week when we rented a 45’ mechanical lift to seal the roof flashing and install the shutters.

I also took the opportunity of having a mechanical lift to get a closer look at other areas of the building not easily accessible. The bargeboard on the north and south elevation were both repainted in 2014 but have remarkable differences in wear due to their exposure to the sun. But that is a story I’ll save for a future newsletter!



Share this: