Buildings with painted wall decoration are susceptible to a variety of conditions which are perilous to their existence. Physical forces such as wear and tear, vandals, fire, humidity and water, pests and custodial neglect by owners, collectors and stewards all result in damage. If we can manage and limit these factors effectively, we will increase the longevity and quality of the painted wall decoration. When considering the preservation of deteriorating painted plaster there are many mitigating factors: the condition of the building structure, any needed plaster repair and finally the type of paint originally used.
Structural Assessment is done by a structural engineer.
Generally, painted plaster walls are an integral part of the structure of old buildings. Structural failures in buildings directly impact the walls. The preservation of historic walls requires an understanding of their unique requirements. A suitable Structural Engineer should be familiar with historic buildings and have experience diagnosing their structural failures and developing appropriate, sympathetic solutions.
Structural Engineers are licensed and can provide stamped plans or a letter detailing the structural solution. Typically, there are a variety of structural solutions. Consistency with the overall project goal as well as preservation of the wall paintings, which often have unique requirements, is crucial. Verifying several examples of the Engineer’s work that is directly relevant to your project is recommended.
Historic New England also has a comprehensive discussion of Structural Engineers available at:
Structural engineers must be licensed in every state in which they practice. For more information consult the following resources:
The National Council of Structural Engineers:
New Hampshire (NH) regulations:
Maine (ME) regulations:
Massachusetts (MA) regulations:
Vermont (VT) regulations: