Antique corbels have come into fashion in the last couple of years in the field of home decor. Corbels are stone brackets that were originally meant to support heavy horizontal extensions such as balconies. However, antique corbels have nowadays started being employed in a decorative manner without necessarily having the function of an architectural support.
Although antique corbels would have braved the elements for quite a number of years they will have visible weathering damages such as erosion. Moreover due to constant exposure to the elements they may present a layer or patina of grime. Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is the actual condition of the stone corbel. Since antique corbels are old, the stone itself may have become too brittle to actually restore. If too much damage has been caused to the corbels consider calling in a professional. Therefore, restoring antique corbels in this case is more about revamping their appearance by cleaning and repainting.
Step 1 – Cleaning the Corbel
This will help unveiling the original features of the corbel since years of accumulated grime and dirt may disrupt the actual detailing of this architectural feature. The first thing you have to do is to get on to the ladder and make sure your face is level with the corbel and not beneath it. Keep in mind to use safety glasses and to ask someone to keep the ladder steady for you. Now use the soft-bristled brush to clean the surface from any debris and loose dirt. If the actual stone starts to brush away with the debris you should call in a professional. At this point you might consider further washing the corbels with water and a weak detergent while very softly scrubbing with the soft-bristled brush. Do not use brushes with wire bristles because they cause great damage to the stone.
Step 2 – Remove Any Paint
If your corbels have been previously painted, after some years the paint starts to come off so it is advisable to remove the old paint by using a paint removing solution. Apply the solvent in a thin layer with a paintbrush. Using a paintbrush will allow you to cover all the tiny details and patches especially if the corbel is carved. After allowing it to dry you should be able to peel off the old paint.
Step 3 – Seal Any Cracks and Repaint
Once you have cleaned the corbels, cracks will be more easily detected. These need to be sealed to avoid further damage and to stop the crack from expanding. Mix an adequate amount of masonry mortar until the mixture gains the consistency of thick peanut butter. Turn the pointing trowel upside down and transfer the mortar onto the surface (which in reality is the bottom side of the trowel). While holding the pointing trowel up to the crack, use the tuckpointing trowel to slide the mortar in the crack and seal it. After the cracks have been sealed and dried off you can now repaint the corbels in their original color.
Restored and clean looking corbels give a feeling of integrity to the architectural structure of the building. Whether they have been added for a purely decorative scope or for an actual supportive purpose, corbels help define the character and style of a building and antique corbels are a very effective method of delineating your own decorative style.