Scotts Valley, CA
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Hands-On Projects

Problems with an adobe wall?

The number one cause of problems with historic adobe walls and plaster is moisture. It may come from roof or chimney leaks, or more often from moisture in the ground. Moisture from rain or landscape irrigation moves by capillary action up into an adobe wall, a process called rising damp. Evidence of this process is flaking and spalling plaster at the wall base.

Historic adobe bricks made from soil must be plastered with a compatible plaster which “breathes” and allows walls to dry out. Hard plaster containing cement, widely used after 1920, prevents walls from drying out and is detrimental.

What to do?

Check for sources of moisture at adobe wall bases and alleviate them. Keep plantings and drip irrigation at least four feet away from an adobe wall. If a roof gutter is depositing water at the base of the wall, direct gutters several feet out so that water runs away. Remove hard paving such as asphalt and concrete which abut walls because they trap moisture beneath and prevent drying out between rains.

Past Hands on Repair Projects by the firm of Gil Sanchez Architect, FAIA (E)

Osuna Adobe, circa 1830
Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Removed existing cement plaster from adobe walls, repacked/repaired adobe walls, replastered with modified mud and white washed.
Giedus Adobe Residence, circa 1940
Walnut Creek, CA
Daryl and Gil pre-mix modified soil plaster and spent a long weekend repairing and replastering the exterior of the adobe home.
Phillips Adobe,
White Rock Canyon Club, Monterey Mountains, CA
We prepared the specifications for the material then we spent a week with the family reparing and replastering the exterior walls.
Los Gatos Adobe, circa 1940
Chimney repair and whitewash.
San Carlos Adobe, circa 1930
Exterior and interior crack repair.
Hotel Gan Manifiesto Adobe Complex, Restoration, circa 1900
Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico
Prepared sample adobe bricks for the commencement of adobe manufacturing.
El Campo de Cahuenga Archeological Site Restoration, circa 1800
Los Angeles, CA
Assisted in the whitewashing of the adobe walls.
First French Consulate , circa 1840
City of Monterey Visitor’s Center
Monterey, CA
Repaired/replastered the East adobe wall. Taught City maintenance crew to mix and apply mud plaster.
Fernando Berryessa Adobe, circa 1850
Santa Clara, CA
Prepared sample adobe crack repair, and plaster finish for the contractor to work from.
Galindo-Higuera Adobe, circa 1835
Fremont, CA
Repaired the complete east wall, whitewashed, and excavated an 18″ deep trench along the base of wall and installed treated galvanized plaster lath to keep rodents from entering the adobe.
Vallejo Adobe Rehabilitation, circa 1840
Fremont, CA
For the benefit of bidding contractors: Prepared three wall samples, opened walls and cracks, repaired crack, first coat of plaster, and second coat of finish plaster, and whitewashed sample.
Branciforte Adobe, circa 1830
Santa Cruz, CA
Repaired historic adobe walls. Project included injecting cracks with a specially formulated mud mixture. Adobe walls were re-plastered with soil plaster and whitewashed.
San Felipe Ranch Adobe Repair,
circa 1900
Merced, CA
Gil taught two ranch workers to rebuild one corner of the adobe with new adobe bricks, repair all cracks, re-plaster all adobe walls, and whitewash.
Casa Amesti Adobe and stone wall restoration
circa 1840
Monterey, CA
Repointed and restored stone walls with modified mud grout designed to match existing historic grout. Extensive adobe garden and house walls were cracked filled, repaired, re-plastered, and whitewashed throughout.
Gil Adobe and rammed-earth storage building,
circa 1834 and 1917
Completely restored the exterior walls by removing all loose soil, filling all cracks, and applying two coats of soil plaster on the walls.
A new drainage system was installed to remove surface water from the site as well as other site improvements were done. Rammed earth storage building: Restored all the exterior walls by constructing wall forms to pour mud into as was done historically. The exterior walls coated with a modified mud plaster.
Peralta Adobe, circa 1799
San Jose, CA
After the 1998 Loma Prieta earthquake, walls were repaired by injecting a modified mud, walls were re-plastered and whitewashed.

For more information on adobe repair or to request the services of Gil Sanchez
visit the Contact page.