Category Archives: Masonry

Benefits of Brick Houses

Brick houses have been a standard of quality in the building industry for many years. Today, homeowners can now choose from a wide range of materials when deciding to build a home. As your brick repair Oak Park company, we are here to help you decide if brick is the right choice for your home’s exterior.

How Popular Are Brick Houses?

According to the National Association of Home Builders, 34 percent of survey participants ranked brick as their top choice for home exteriors, while 21 percent selected vinyl siding, 16 percent said stone, 12 percent said stucco, and 7 percent selected wood. Respondents even went as far as saying they would pay an additional $7,500 for a brick home.

The Real Benefits Of Brick

If you are unsure if a brick house is right for you, consider the following benefits:

Low-Maintenance: Brick is relatively low-maintenance when it comes to building materials due to its durability and color retention.  Brick does not rot and does not need to be painted, however, when issues do arise contact a trusted brick repair Oak Park company. DIY brick repair can be dangerous and costly if done wrong. Leave repairing damaged bricks to the professionals.

Green: Did you know that brick is made from some of the most abundant materials on earth – clay & shale? Brick is often repurposed for landscaping projects.

Weather & Fire Resistant: Bricks are noncombustible. They also do not aid in the spread of a fire. Additionally, brick can even help contain a fire to a particular room or portion of a house. Bricks are also great for storm protection. Research shows that brick exteriors can withstand impact from flying debris and great speeds.

Brick Repair Oak Park

Bricks tend to be more expensive than other exterior products, such as vinyl siding. In order to protect your investment, it’s important that you work with a trusted professional when damages occur. Call our brick repair Oak Park company today at (847) 647-2500.

Spring Cleaning Your Masonry in Chicago

Spring Cleaning Your Masonry in Chicago

All over the world, there are stone and brick buildings hundreds of years old. But while masonry is one of the most time-tested forms of construction, your masonry does need maintenance to keep it looking new. And if your Chicago home is of masonry construction, it’s time for a spring cleaning.

Keeping bricks clean is an ongoing project, and it’s not always easy. There are a few common types of grit and grime that affect masonry in Chicago. Each of them requires a different cleaning technique.

  1. Fungus and Moss

Usually, the easiest problem to deal with, unless you’ve got lots of growth. You can start by scraping off what you can, then using a bleach solution to get the rest.

  1. Oil and Soot

These substances are harder to get off and require a bit of chemistry. A solution with muriatic acid combined with a thorough brushing will take care of most oil and soot residue.

  1. Paint

While there are several methods to removing paint—power washing, acid washing, etc., the easiest thing to do is use a chemical stripper.

You likely spent more of your hard-earned money for the added character of a brick home compared to a typical stucco house. To care for that investment, and to continue to enjoy your home, you must commit to maintaining your masonry.

Curb appeal is a huge factor in a home’s value and clean masonry is beautiful masonry.

That said, cleaning your masonry can become a huge project if your home was built with all brick or stone. Not to mention dangerous if you’ve got a chimney to clean. Using sand blasters or paint removers can also cause more mess than there was to begin with, if done improperly.

Your time and safety are valuable, so it’s best to use a masonry contractor.

If you have masonry in Chicago and it needs a spring cleaning you’d be well served to talk to the professionals at Fortune Restoration Painting and Masonry.

We provide all kinds of masonry services for the Chicago area, not least of which is chemical cleaning for all your stonework, chimneys included. To learn more about our cleaning services visit us on the web. You can also schedule an appointment by calling (847) 647-2500!

The Do’s And Don’ts Of Cleaning Masonry

Masonry is an investment; as durable and long-lasting as masonry is, it still requires routine cleaning and maintenance. Over time, dirt and grime will build up. Cleaning is an inexpensive way to spruce up the exterior of your home. Improper cleaning, however, could negatively impact your finances. Hiring a qualified masonry contractor in Chicago to provide chemical cleaning services, could make the difference between beautifying or harming your stone.

Masonry Contractors Chicago

Professional masonry contractors will provide the proper chemical mixture compositions for cleaning masonry. The effects of chemically cleaning your stone and masonry can be dramatic but should be done with proper care. Fortune Restoration’s expert masonry team will work as gently and diligently as possible to protect your masonry. Fortune Restoration have been trusted masonry contractors in Chicago for decades. Fortune Restoration is able to provide you with a same day quote for all of your masonry needs.

Don’t Use Muriatic Acid Or Sandblasting

Often times, people believe a DIY masonry cleaning will save them money and time. A mistake that is often made by people who are not experts in masonry, is to use the same methods their masonry as their concrete or stone. Using muriatic acid or sandblasting will both etch and damage the brick and mortar. This method will irreversibly change its appearance, resulting in a DIY project that will cost more financial harm than good.

Do Tests Before Cleaning

If you do decide that a DIY masonry cleaning is for you, make sure that you test your cleaning solution on your masonry in an inconspicuous area before cleaning. Make sure you rinse the area you tested and give it time to dry before you decide you are going to clean all of your masonry using this product.

Do Wet Surfaces And Apply Low Pressure

Apply water to the masonry before you begin to apply chemicals. In order for the chemicals to soak into the brick and stains, it will need to be wet. When you are applying the chemicals start at the top and move down the wall with as little pressure as possible.

Rinse Thoroughly

It is crucial when rinsing that you wash off ALL the chemical cleaning products. The chemicals that soaked into your brick should be washed off using a high power pressure washer.

The best way to clean your masonry is by hiring a masonry contractor in Chicago. Avoid DIY chemical cleaning that will hurt you financially. Trust that the professionals at Fortune Restoration, who have been cleaning masonry for decades, will get the job done correctly the first time!

Reasons To Choose Masonry For Your Home

What Is Masonry?
The term masonry refers to construction with stone. Masonry when referring to a building describes the stonework which is incorporated into the building. An individual that practices masonry is called a stonemason or a mason. The skills of a mason tend to command high prices, since working in stone is very tricky.

Why Choose Masonry For Your Home?

  1. Fire Resistant: Masonry is a non combustible material, making it a great safe choice for your home.
  2. Weather and Termite Resistant: When exterior walls are made of masonry there is no wood for the termites to eat. Likewise there is no material to rot during damp weather conditions. Additionally, masonry protects from health problems caused by dirt and rot such as chronic fatigue, asthma, throat infections and more.
  3. Green Material: Masonry products are recognized by the government as a contributor to green building status. These products are earth-friendly because they do not deplete precious natural and limited resources like timber.
  4. Excellent Sound Proofing: Masonry bricks are one of the best materials for blocking out noise, resulting in a more quiet home environment.
  5. Virtually Maintenance Free: Masonry requires far less maintenance than other building materials like wood for example.  
  6. Lower Insurance Premium: Masonry creates a higher level of security to protect against fire, weather, and termites. As a result of this, many insurance companies will offer up to a 15% discount on homeowners policies.
  7. Decreased Utility Bills: Concrete, combined with ‘thermal mass’ insulation systems, stores more energy. This means your home will stay warmer in winter and colder in summer. Which will result less electric consumption and lower utility bills.  
  8. Increased Resale: Simply put masonry homes are high quality, low maintenance homes. With low utility bills, lower insurance premiums, and a weather/termite proof home, you will be able to sell your home for the value it is worth.

Searching For Masonry Contractor In Chicago?
Fortune Restoration has been a name that numerous households in Chicago have trusted for their interior and exterior house projects. We understand the your masonry project, and take a look at the scope of work and provide you with estimated costs for the task at hand. Our pricing is most competitive in Chicago and our masonry contractors are the most professional, who will execute the work carefully and effectively. If you are looking for a professional and trusted masonry contractor in Chicago, look no further. Call us today at (847) 647-2500!

On the Path to Preservation with Matthew Wolf

8.4FrerkPic (2)Matthew Wolf is a fifth generation successor to his family’s building materials business, Henry Frerk Sons. “Every generation has run the company since it began – my mother is a Frerk,” provides Wolf. “My Great Great Grandfather started the business as a general store in the early 1870’s.”

Great Great Grandpa Henry expanded to the company’s current location on Belmont, he began the transition to building materials. His sons amassed great wealth (and then lost almost everything during the Great Depression) with coal. Matt’s grandfather brought in the first concrete trucks, and his dad developed special concrete – the type that “general cement contractors can’t provide on their trucks.”

Wolf says it looks like “his thing” is going to be restoration. “Every generation put their own mark on the company. It’s very important to me to do the same. This is also such a good point about business – you can’t stay stagnant!”

Material Evolution

Matt first went to school for architecture and graduated with a business management degree. He became passionate about preservation during this time, learning about wood restoration, how to assess old buildings, testing masonry, painting, wall paper, etc. (He also says the Art Institute has some of the best classes available for people interested in learning more about preservation.) Since then Wolf has become an expert on restorative materials leading the company into a new era of education on the subject for their customers. One of his most passionate topics is the importance of lime mortar applications for restoration projects.

“Lime mortar has been used in America since the settlers. Portland cement (what we use today) was first developed in England in the 1870’s, but wasn’t widely used in the U.S. until the 1930’s, because it was very expensive to produce and there were few manufacturers around making it.”

Referring to actual documents at his office, Matt further illustrated his point. “For example, a rail car filled with lime, about 150 barrels worth, cost $52.50 in 1908. That same amount of cement cost $214.50 at the time – just about four times as much! Lime mortar was cheap, and you could get it anywhere. Contractors were hesitant to use cement in the beginning because it was so expensive, but when the price came down enough for contractors to use it laying brick, cement took the market over by the 1940’s.”

Cement v. Mortar

One of the biggest differences between cement and lime mortar is that cement gets very hard very fast, and lime mortar takes a very long time to set.

There are 7 different types of mortar differentiated by their hydraulic properties – the degree to which lime works with water to grow crystals and get hard. The more hydraulic mortar is, the harder and faster it gets hard.

Lime putty has zero hydraulic properties, “…it’s like sour cream”. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Portland cement; it’s made from the same rocks, but with different additives. In between the two are:

NHL – Natural Hydraulic Lime 2.0, 3.5 and 5.0 rated from weakest to strongest

Pozzolain Lime – Developed by the Romans

Natural Cement – Developed in New York and used to build the Erie Canal, lighthouses, and other structures.

Wolf says the Romans were really the first to develop lime. It was tried and true for centuries, “…but Portland cement did such a great job of advertising we forgot about lime mortar. Portland is for resurfacing and isn’t necessarily the way to go with restoration.”

Historic Commitments

Matt is committed to the belief if a building was built with lime mortar, it should be rebuilt with lime mortar. “With restoration, lime mortar breathes better – but you don’t want it to go through the brick. If you have an 1840’s lime joint and you repoint with cement mortar, it could be harder than the original mortar and brick. When mortar joints are stronger, age and the elements could damage the brick. This is because moisture gets trapped and breaks down if you use cement mortar.

Pre-1930 commercial buildings usually have this problem. You can test for the original mortar, but it’s very expensive; for residential structures, you can usually tell by looking at it. You can use lime mortar to repair later built houses too.”

Wolf is glad to see lime mortar is being widely recognized in preservations now and offers that, contractors, in general, are reluctant to use it because “they grew up with cement.” He appreciates that Fortune Restoration has been working closely with his company to learn the art of lime mortar. “I’m excited about working with them because their technical skills are so great. They are covering the walls with burlap, hand chiseling and performing other like tasks to m ‘proper historic masonry renovation’.”

Wrap Up

In an effort to defray the expense of maintaining historic building applications with integrity, Frerk is the first building supplier to make a “bulk silo” for lime mortar to help bring down the cost. “We often see more damage with bad re-pointing because the wrong stuff was used. It really should be a do-it-right-or-don’t-do-it-at-all undertaking.”

The company’s general philosophy for historic buildings is to find out what the problem is first and then determine the right way to fix it. “We go to the jobsites, work with the contractors and consult to find best answers. We also realized we needed to be better educated about lime mortar and bring it to the masons. I want to network with preservationists and do more things like that.”       Facebook       Twitter       LinkedIn       Request an Estimate


4 Outdoor Living Trends This Summer

6.2RooftopOutdoor living spaces have grown in popularity as an extension of the home. The challenge of making your patio look more like the inside of your house has designers, contractors and homeowners thinking out of the box on a grand scale today.

Yards, decks and roof tops are being used to their utmost potential. (There are more than 80,000 roof top patio designs currently posted on!) Four of the hottest outdoor living trends this summer is seating, heating, lighting, and cooking.


Stylish Seating

Gone are the days of decorating with a few patio chairs around an umbrella table. The line between outdoor and indoor furniture is getting tougher to distinguish, especially with the use of upholstered pieces outside.

Fade and weather resistant fabrics that are not only durable, but also washable, have made outdoor patios as comfy as our living rooms. Built in seating options, such as ledges, benches, steps, and boulders, are also quite popular and can double as beautiful landscapes too!

All Fired Up

One of the hottest trends in patio anchors is the outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Outdoor 6.2Fireplacefireplaces add ambiance and value to your outdoor space and warmth on chilly evenings.

You can instantly give your patio an upscale look with a customized fireplace and mantle using brick, stone or wood. Fire pits also offer a cozy respite. Current designs may include decorative stone, marble and/or fire resistant brick and can be gas or wood burning.

There are a wealth of outdoor fireplaces and pits on the market. A quick search for “outdoor heating” at will give you a feel for the many varieties and styles available today. You may also consider working with a professional masoner to custom build your perfect outdoor look.


Get Lit

Multiple layers of outdoor patio lighting is all the rage this summer —it will give your outdoor space a welcoming, finished and secure feeling.

Begin with the perimeter of your outdoor space by filling the area with wall mounted ambient lighting and/or ceiling fixtures when applicable.

Create additional layers of light for the cooking and seating areas and along the landscape lines and paths. Use rope and string lights, candles, sconces, lanterns and solar pieces to create a warm and inviting glow.

Stir the Pot

6.2grillOutdoor cooking is being fed by the popularity of cooking shows, “foodies” and easy access to the plethora of culinary information on the web.

One of the hottest trends in outdoor cooking is the Kamado style grill or smoker. Based on ancient technology, most Kamado grills are made from ceramics, able to retain heat for long periods of time. The significant advantage in cooking with the Kamado or ceramic grill/smoker oven is that your meat will be unbelievably moist and tender.

Other niceties such as refrigerators, stoves, brick ovens, wet bars, and sinks are also big. Outdoor Kitchens are the cornerstone of today’s outside living, cooking and entertaining trends.

Bringing the indoors outside is a transition that continues to evolve and gain popularity. From kitchens and furniture to stylish lighting and cozy fireplaces, applying inside amenities to outdoor living is on trend. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Request an Estimate