Maintenance tips for your historic home

It’s Maintenance Week for period properties! SPAB Ireland and the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) share their top tips to keep your period home in tip top shape.

1. Beware of plants

Ivy might look great but don’t let it grown onto your roofs and gutters. Cutting ivy at ground level will inevitably make it attempt to survive by rooting into the wall, peel ivy away from the top down instead. More on dealing with ivy from Historic England. Buddleia, or the beautiful butterfly bush is a lovely flowering plant that can cause huge damage to buildings as its tiny wind-blown seeds can germinate in decaying mortar. If you see this invasive plant on your building, cut back and inject with weed killer, says SPAB Ireland.

2. Check your roof and chimneys

A visual inspection will go a long way towards identifying problems such as cracks and plant growth. To spot problems start by looking for water staining and other evidence of leaks in the loft, remembering that these may be some distance from the point of entry, says SPAB Ireland.

3. Don’t forget mortar is sacrificial

Mortar in masonry joints (pointing) is sacrificial. Joints need to be re-pointed if mortar has deteriorated, as in this photo, or vegetation could take root. But never use cement mortar for traditional buildings, use a lime mortar to match the original, says SPAB Ireland.

4. Check for places water can pool on metal and wood

Painting your exterior wood and metal will provide protection.

5. Rules of thumb

Here are the UAHS Maintain to Retain Dos & Don’ts

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Written by Astrid Madsen

Astrid Madsen is the editor of the SelfBuild magazine. Email

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