Patching Versus In-Kind Replacement: Two Brownstone Repair Techniques

Brownstone, a coarse-textured sandstone, was commonly used as a facade for homes in the late 1800s. It can look absolutely lovely, and these homes looked very nice when they were new. But unfortunately, brownstone is not a terribly durable material, and many brownstone homes have now begun to show their age. Your brownstone facade may be crumbling in some areas, or there may be entire chunks of rock missing.

Luckily, there are companies that will repair brownstones. There are two different techniques that they can use. Here's a look at each of those techniques, their upsides, and their shortcomings.

Technique #1: Patching

Patching is the simpler technique and it is usually the technique brownstone repair companies recommend trying first. To patch a brownstone home, they will first make a patching mixture using cement, lime, and crushed brownstone. They'll add colorants to the mix to ensure it's the same color as your home. Then, they will pack the patching material into the damaged portions of your home's facade.

Patching is a quick, inexpensive, low-effort way to repair brownstones. It works well as long as the stone around the area you're patching is still strong and not crumbling. However, a patch won't last forever, and once the stone around the patch starts to fail, your patch will fall out. 

Technique #2: Dutchman Replacement

Dutchman replacement is a technique by which brownstone repair professionals remove deteriorated parts of the brownstone and replace them with new brownstone. In other words, they'll cut out a chunk of the rock and then put a new piece of rock in its place. This is more time-consuming than patching and requires a lot more skill. The professional has to select the right stone to use, cut it to size, and use just the right mortars to secure it into place.

Dutchman replacement is a longer-lasting solution than patching. It also works better for brownstones that have larger areas of damage that would be tough to patch. You'll generally save money in the long run with this approach because the results last longer, but the cost is typically higher up-front. 

Should you have your brownstone home patched, or is it worth getting a Dutchman replacement? It all depends on your budget, how long you want the repairs to last, and how much damage your facade actually has. A brownstone repair service can come to take a look and offer more personalized guidance.