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Florentine Terracotta Restoration: the Complete Guide


restauro cotto fiorentino con Biemme Restauri

Restoring a country house in Tuscany is not always an easy undertaking. It is a very delicate and ambitious project as it allows to give new life to a house that can become both functional and at the a piece of an architecture.


Homes in Florence and throughout Tuscany are precious treasure chests of beauty and history. Often the idea of renovation frightens those who want to make a country home functional and modern, all while preserving the historical and typical features of the building.


And it is precisely this line of thinking that guides the most careful and scrupulous restorers of farm buildings.

ARTICLE INDEX


Construction company specializing in the renovation of farmhouses in Tuscany

Biemme Restauri of Florence is a construction company that specializes in building and


Ever since it was founded in 1988 by Salvatore Badalamenti, Biemme Restauri has distinguished itself in the field of restoration by specializingin work on farmhouses and in searching for state-of-the-art materials.


The countless projects completed by Biemme demonstrate the results of the work of a team

comprised of quality craftsmen specializing in every single area: masonry, painting, electrical,

plumbing, blacksmithing, carpentry, and marble work.


Florentine Terracotta Restoration


Florentine terracotta and its restoration can affect exterior and interior floor coverings and draws its origin from the ancient technique of firing clay.


It is made by mixing clay with water to prepare bricks. Various types of terracotta and very fine ceramics can be obtained from this technique, which to this day are widely used to restore buildings in the countryside or of historical significance.


This ancient technique involves working the clay by hand to such an extent that it becomes plastic with a consistency that can be pressed inside wooden moulds. At a later stage it is fired, then air-dried, and finally freed from the wooden moulds for use in various renovation works.


Nowadays, this type of craftsmanship is carried out by artisanal kilns and aimed at a specific target of very demanding customers who are willing to invest in the quality of materials.


The beauty of making architectural works in Florentine terracotta is indisputable, the only factor that goes to its disadvantage is related to the porosity of this material, which can be remedied by considering an appropriate treatment to protect its integrity.


Florentine Terracotta Impruneta

Impruneta terracotta processing is the name given to those types of terracotta made from the Impruneta area, located in the southern part of Florence.


The origin of Impruneta Florentine terracotta is very ancient, suffice it to say that it dates back to the Middle Ages. In this period in fact, the production of jars, pitchers and bricks began, arriving up to more recent centuries and to the present day where this workmanship is highly valued.


The State Archives in Florence preserves numerous documents that show that from the 15th century onward, terracotta played a fundamental role in the town's economy and characterized the culture of the place. In the 15th century, Filippo Brunelleschi chose terracotta from Impruneta to build the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, admired to this day for its ingenuity and beauty by all art lovers.


The famous architect chose this material because it simultaneously offered the characteristics of strength and lightness. Suffice to say that the dome in question does not have any reinforcement supporting it but is made entirely of bricks constructed and worked with great diligence and precision.


Currently, the use of Impruneta terracotta is directed toward the laying of paved floors for both indoor and outdoor use.


To this day, the working of terracotta is based on a very manual technique preserving the ancient traditions. The only tools used are rudimentary and very simple. Impruneta terracotta is distinguished from others by its high content of marl, which gives the mixture structural characteristics that are very resistant to shocks and the wearing action of frost.


Galestro is mined from open-pit quarries near Impruneta in the valleys of the Ema and Greve rivers. Being a very limited area, the value of this material is high, which explains the rather high costs. Its reddish color is given by the presence of iron oxide while the porosity depends on the high content of calcium carbonates.


Florentine terracotta for interiors and exteriors


Florentine terracotta involves various processes. The most widely used are as follows: The rustic rolled: the particular processing that is done by rounding raw highlights the structure of the mixture and can be distinguished from others because circular marks are highlighted on the surface.


Super rustic: this is obtained by mixing coarser sands and clays so that when the product is finished it is rougher and the grain size is revealed to the naked eye.


Rolled terracotta: in this case the clay is dried and before firing it is smoothed with abrasive belts.


• Rough terracotta: the surface is characterized by streaks due to a simpler initial processing that less emphasizes the structure of the material.


Handmade terracotta: this is a fine workmanship where some irregularities are left with extreme skill; each piece, being made entirely by hand, is unique.


Florentine terracotta is used for both indoor and outdoor flooring.


For interiors, terracotta adapts to any environment, giving warmth and uniqueness to any type of space. It embellishes any room, be it a kitchen or a bathroom.


The important thing is that the installation or restoration work is carried out by professionals capable of creating a floor that meets the requirements of moisture absorption, remaining unafeccted by dirt and following the laws of color harmony. Not to be outdone is the use of terracotta for exteriors.


A terracotta floor for exterior spaces is the best setting for country houses and all farmhouses to which you want to give a warm and harmonious appearance. The only caution to which great care must be taken is to protect terracotta with a protective treatment because of its high porosity. Frost, for example, is an enemy for terracotta: with the expansion of water infiltrating the porosity it can cause cracks and micro damage to the bricks.


Clay Processing

The extracted clay is stored in the sun and in a first stage separated from various waste materials. This processing is also done manually. Next, with grinding that is done using special machinery, the clay is passed through a sieve.


This is followed by mixing with water, which only the experience and professionalism of a craftsman can accomplish for the success of the product. In working with clay there is a lot of technique, but creativity should not be lacking either, especially if the craftsman has to make vases and other decorative elements. Usually the treatment of clay is carried out in two stages:


1. water repellent;

2. oil repellent.


Periodically, depending also on wear and tear, it will have to undergo maintenance especially for the first surface layer, which is the most exposed and most likely have have damage.


Sanding Antique Terracotta


In order to shine in all its beauty, Florentine terracotta must undergo sanding, which allows the surface to be made suitable for its specific use according to the place where the work was made and at the same time prepare the surface for protective treatment.


Above all, sanding is important so to allow the surface to be cleaned, which must be done periodically. The sanding operation is not the same for every tile but should be designed according to the use of the type of work in which it is to be intervened, evaluating, from time to time, in what context it is located. It should be kept in mind that terracotta, being a material extracted from the processing of clay, changes color depending on its use.


One thing that all the work with Florentine terracotta has in common is that the sanding treatment removes everything, including stains, mold, the most difficult dirt as well as leveling the floor giving balance and uniformity to any unevenness present.


Only after sanding, especially if it is to be used as flooring, will the result be perfect..

Terracotta Floor Treatment

The treatment of terracotta is a process that is carried out after laying and grouting the joints so that the surface becomes waterproof.


Terracotta is subject to natural degradation that is determined by its rather porous structure that facilitates the occurrence of mold and the vulnerability it can present if subjected to impacts and vehicle passages. It is often thought that the treatment of terracotta is done only to give it a better or different appearance, in reality the treatment also serves to improve functionality, remove dirt and make it last.


Each situation and context in which you are going to operate must be evaluated individually especially if you have rising damp or infiltration. In these cases, treatments must aim at remediation and prevention of the phenomenon so as not to compromise the whole job.


When there is heavy moisture, the specialist assesses, if it is necessary to treat the tiles before laying them with a specific water repellent and a stain repellent.


The types of treatments that can be performed on Florentine terracotta surfaces fall into two broad categories: protective and finishing. They are further distinguished according to the components of the liquid that is used as a base: those with a solvent base and those with a water base.


How to Restore Terracotta to look like new?

Old terracotta floors that have not been cleaned for a long time need to undergo special cleaning to remove the dirt that has settled over the years and give the surface a new shine. Often certain farmhouses, or country houses need precisely this treatment because the tiles are still in good condition and there is no need to intervene with a true renovation.


The use of specific waxes to complete a cleaning job done well, with exclusively neutral products, manages to restore those long-forgotten tiles to their original beauty and make them shine.


It is always a good idea even in this case to take advice from specialists in the field and not to improvise the removal of stains with do-it-yourself solutions, especially if it is an antique floor. It is always inadvisable to use aggressive products especially if the tile joints are deteriorated and very worn.


In fact, in this case, it is good to first grout the joints so that water cannot penetrate inside the porosity. Finally, it is always good to go over with professional power-brushes or specific brushes that only professionals in the field know how to use.


How to Recover Ruined Terracotta?


Whenever you are faced with a ruined Florentine terracotta tile, the first step is to ask yourself what was the cause that led it to be damaged in that way.


Once the cause is identified, we can then study what type of intervention is the most effective. When we are dealing with interior flooring, the stains that can affect Florentine terracotta come from food residues, detergents, animal droppings or residues from construction work.


Removing a persistent, long-standing stain is not always easy because we have to deal with the delicacy and porosity of the material. While for the outdoors, terracotta can be more easily degraded by the presence of mold, motor oil or animal droppings. In any case, when you have damaged and stained flooring, a baking soda mixture is used.


This is left on and then the entire floor is washed with a mild soap. For tougher stains, linseed oil is also used. In the latter case, it should be left on for a day and then soaped and rinsed.


How much does it cost to treat terracotta?


Treating terracotta can cost differently depending on the types of protection and/or sanding chosen for a specific floor or product.


It can start at €20 per square meter, but the price can go up with quality protection work, highly specialized labor or the introduction of particular products to keep its characteristics intact depending on the urban or country context.


For example, a basic treatment of terracotta involves cleaning old applications and grouting any broken or worn tiles. To this can be added sanding and interventions that aim to protect against moisture.


DOMANDE FREQUENTI


How to restore terracotta to look like new?

To restore terracotta to look like new, it is necessary to undergo cleaning to remove dirt and stains. Do not use aggressive products but natural or specific products.

How to Recover Ruined terracotta?

How much does it cost to treat terracotta?



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