Replicating Terra Cotta Building Ornament

January 14, 2014

Terra Cotta Restoration

The Old Parkland Hospital building with ornament by Stromberg.

Stromberg Architectural replicated the old columns, cornices and balustrading for the Old Parkland Hospital building in Dallas, TX.

Terra Cotta Ornament Replication

Terra cotta has long been used to enhance building design because it offered the flexibility to create all types of decorative features. These building features include numerous ornamental designs for building facades, including leaves, flowers, and scrolls as well as intricate patterns often found in American architecture from the late 19th century until the 1930s. As many of these buildings are now being restored to their former glory or new buildings are being erected with features designed to emulate this building ornamentation, contractors and architects are looking for ways to replicate the original terra cotta building ornament.

What Happens to Terra Cotta Building Ornament?

Typically, terra cotta building ornamentation deteriorates over time. The reasons for this deterioration can range from poor original design, misapplication of the terra cotta material, or a water-related problem. The deterioration can lead to cracks in the terra cotta glaze as well as a loss of the masonry material, which diminishes the visual impact of the building ornament. Deterioration of the metal anchoring and the materials adjacent to the building ornament can also take away from the beauty of the ornamentation.

Issues with Replicating Terra Cotta Building Ornament

Whether replicating the terra cotta ornaments for replacement on a building restoration project or for including a unique design on a new building, there are some key issues involved:

  • Removing and re-anchoring the building ornament can be difficult or impossible because it can get destroyed in the process.
  • Recreating the design of the ornament can be difficult because the pattern may be worn off or broken, leaving the terra cotta manufacturers to rely solely on old photographs or building plans.
  • Replicating the look and feel of the terra cotta building ornament for visual consistency can be challenging because previous manufacturing methods are no longer used.

Solutions for Replicating and Restoring Terra Cotta Building Ornament

However, TerraGlas provides a cost-effective solution for replicating and restoring terra cotta, including building ornamentation. As a molded architectural terra cotta composite reinforced with fiberglass, TerraGlas addresses replication and restoration issues. Here’s what it can offer:

  • There are a limitless number of molded shapes so that it can exactly replicate any historical terra cotta building ornament.
  • TerraGlas is available in both flat and glazed colors for visual consistency, including shade and texture, with the building’s existing terra cotta.
  • Because TerraGlas is lighter and more resilient, it can reduce the weight load on a historic building and lower installation costs.
  • There are no shrinkage issues with TerraGlas like traditional terra cotta.
  • Because TerraGlas is frost, water, and weather resistant, it also provides a long-lasting solution.

Working with TerraGlas on Replicating and Restoring Building Ornaments

Stromberg Architectural Products and TerraGlas have worked with architects and contractors around the world, completing restoration and construction projects for all types of buildings. Receive a free quote for your terra cotta restoration or replication project by calling 903.454.0904 or sending an email to:  [email protected]. Our seasoned team of terra cotta specialists can answer your questions and help you achieve all your project objectives.


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