Premier Projects
Study Abroad Opportunities
Repointing (Mortar Repair)
Mortar Analysis & Matching
Cracks, Settlement & Leaks
Deteriorated Masonry
Masonry Cleaning & Paint Stripping
Historic Stuccos & Renders
Chimney Problems
Changing the Color of Masonry
Water Repellents


Western US Office
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 505-4977

Eastern US Office
Boston, Massachusetts
(781) 488-3088

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Our Consultation Services Give You the Expertise Necessary to Limit Your Risk

Expert Assessments of
Historic Masonry

Comprehensive Scopes of
Work Based on Project
Objectives and Available
Financial Resources

Writing or Reviewing

Providing Cost Estimates
for Budgeting and Planning

Eliminating Costly
Contractor Change Orders

Recommending the Best
Masonry Materials and
Restoration Products


Masonry Cleaning  |  Paint Stripping

Of all the changes an historic building can undergo, cleaning the exterior masonry is one of the most visually dramatic. Exposing the original color of the masonry by cleaning it brings about impressive improvements. This is especially true in the appearance of many urban buildings blackened by industrial pollution. It is a process which changes not only the fundamental appearance of historic masonry buildings, but also the environmental context in which they exist.

While visual improvements brought about by cleaning historic masonry should not be underestimated, neither should the dangers. Irreversible damage has been caused to thousands of historic masonry structures by unscrupulous contractors. Unskilled and hurried workers using inappropriate cleaning techniques have caused permanent damage to our country's masonry heritage. There is no reason to let it happen to you.



Cleaning this historic building and removing the black industrial pollution uncovered the natural color and beauty of the stone.

Cleaning this historic brick building not only enhanced its beauty, but also revealed the original mortar color and allowed us to obtain an accurate mortar match.

Before cleaning (left) and after.

If vines are allowed to grow on masonry, it takes an experienced professional to remove the residues without damaging the masonry.

This closeup of the previous photograph details the damage that can result from allowing vines to grow on masonry.



Frequently Asked Questions
about Masonry Cleaning:

Question: What are the advantages of cleaning my masonry?


  1. The original masonry color and architectural detailing of your building become more apparent following cleaning.

  2. If your mortar needs repointing or some of the masonry units need patching, cleaning exposes their natural, true color so that matching the mortar and patching the surrounding masonry units become easier.

  3. If your masonry can benefit from an application of a penetrating and breathable water repellent, cleaning the masonry must be done prior to application.

Question: What has caused my masonry to become so soiled?

Answer: Among the many possibilities are:

  1. Dark gray or black carbon deposits develop on the face of masonry in urban areas as a result of industrial pollution.

  2. Hard water deposits form on masonry as a result of landscape sprinkling system usage.

  3. Graffiti.

  4. Metallic deposits.

  5. Animal or plant life.

  6. Smoke from a fire.

Question: What methods are available to clean my masonry?

Answer: There are several, and each method has its specific application requirements and procedures. The method chosen should be determined by:

  1. The contaminant(s) being removed from the masonry.

  2. The masonry's inherent characteristics.

The goal should be to utilize the most effective method of achieving the desired level of cleaning without pitting, discoloring, or otherwise damaging the masonry.

Contact us for assistance in determining which cleaning method is best for your situation.

Question: Will cleaning my masonry cause it to become pitted, discolored, or damaged?

Answer: Not if:

  1. An appropriate and suitable cleaning method is used.

  2. Thorough, written specifications are given to the contractor that clearly outline what is expected and what is not acceptable. These specifications are best prepared by a competent person who has had substantial hands-on experience cleaning historic masonry buildings.

  3. The cleaning is performed by a trained and experienced craftsperson who has respect for your historic masonry.

Contact us for assistance with any of the above concerns.

Question: What are the risks associated with cleaning my masonry?


  • Permanently pitting the masonry.
  • Discoloring the masonry.
  • The expansion of soluble salts after cleaning, known as efflorescence. (See Deteriorated Masonry for information about efflorescence.)
  • Water or other cleaning substances damaging the masonry surface and penetrating to the interior of the building.
  • Damage to surrounding plant life.
  • Etching or pitting windows.

All of these risks can be eliminated by:

  • Having thorough and specific written specifications in the contract with your contractor. Contact us for more information.

  • Hiring the right craftsperson with proven experience, reliability, and respect for historic masonry.

Abstract Masonry Restoration has extensive experience cleaning historic masonry. Contact us to clean yours, and rest assured it will be done right the first time.

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