The charm of historic buildings is undeniable. The ornamentation that characterized classic architecture – columns, ceiling medallions, cornices, mantel pieces, coffered ceilings, and more – creates a unique look that individuals and organizations alike seek to preserve.
Many of the ornamental features were originally made from plaster castings that have decayed as time passed. While plaster is still available today, it is expensivem, difficult to work with, and likely to decay again. Instead, modern glass fiber reinforced gypsum (GFRG) is a superior option for replicating and restoring historic buildings, all while preserving the charm of the original architecture.
How GFRG Is Used in Preservation Work
GFRG is made by bonding glass fibers with gypsum to create a strong but lightweight material. Similar to plaster in historic architecture, GFRG can be molded and shaped into any form. It can be used to create large scale forms like walls and column covers, or smaller ornamentation pieces like those on door and window trims.
With its flexibility, GFRG works for the various aspects of preservation work such as:
- Historic Restoration – As elements age, the plaster can degrade, resulting in missing elements, cracks, a build up of dirt. Restoration brings these elements back to their original appearance, replacing small pieces when necessary.
- Historic Reproduction – Through reproduction, we create the architectural elements from scratch when the original pieces are no longer there. The design process often relies on photographs, contemporary descriptions, and historic knowledge to create accurate replicas.
For both restoration and reproduction, we use custom molds to shape the GFRG into the correct shapes, which is then taken to the work site for installation. It can be finished on site with the required painting or texturing. This process differs from traditional plaster which is shaped at the build site, resulting in a more expensive manufacturing process.
With GFRG, we are able to replicate historical design elements with such accuracy that historical preservation groups have accepted, and even recommend, this more modern material as an alternative for plaster castings.
Benefits of GFRG Over Plaster
GFRG’s flexibility makes it possible to create customized interior elements such as curved walls and ceilings, trims, and 3 dimensional ornamentations that are nearly identical to their original plaster counterparts. But unlike plaster, GFRG offers several benefits:
- Stronger – GFRG will not crack, break, and crumble like plaster. It lasts longer, ensuring that your preservation work will maintain its look for decades to come.
- Easier to Install – Because it is lightweight and more durable, GFRG requires fewer people and less structural preparation to install.
- More Affordable – GFRG elements are made in a factory from custom molds. This, along with the easier installation, makes it far more cost-effective to create GFRG elements.
- Fireproof – For added durability, safety, and protection for the historical property, GFRG is fireproof.
For exterior preservation work, glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) allows for the creation of domes, column covers, facades, steps, and other features that can withstand the elements.
GC Products is an industry leader in manufacturing both GFRG and GRFC products for any type of project, including historical preservation. We work with companies, organizations, and individuals to create high quality architectural elements that will maintain the integrity and classic appearance of historic buildings.
Let us be your partner in your historic renovation. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer and how GFRG can work for you.