Heritage services

Heritage architecture, just like ageing humans, requires regular examination and maintenance to ensure optimal performance in its environment. Our qualified, experienced team of multidisciplinary professionals can attend to the needs of your precious buildings and help produce an informed conservation plan.

Restoring the past, sustaining the future

The conservation of historic monuments and structures is important because it improves our environment, connects us to our heritage and adds to our sense of belonging. Stone Initiatives assists owners, architects and conservators in developing the knowledge necessary to produce an informed conservation plan.

Why are conservation plans needed?

The ad-hoc and ill-informed use of consolidants, sealers, coatings and cleaning methods on historic material, in an attempt to “preserve our history,” can result in irreversible damage to our cultural heritage. Determination of the material’s characteristics and physical properties allows the conservation plan to be based on informed decisions, thereby minimising the risk of damage or unnecessary deterioration. A responsible conservation plan requires wise management of resources and sound judgement to control the agents of deterioration and preserve the integrity of the monument.

How can Stone Initiatives help?

We specialise in the testing and evaluation of building stone and related materials such as historic coatings, mortar and cement products. Our heritage services include determination of the physical properties of building materials, selection and sourcing of replacement stone for use in historic structures, analysis of historic mortars and analysis of lime washes and other organic and inorganic coatings.

Like all building materials, dimension stone is subject to failure through improper use, installation or maintenance. The identification of the cause of such failures is important to avoid recurrence of the problem. Stone Initiatives has expertise in the field of failure analysis, assisting clients to determine the cause of failures in a wide range of materials, structures and locations. We can also assist in the development and trialling of suitable rectification methods – these may include investigations to select a suitable consolidant, cleaning method or matching and repair of historic materials.

“Preserving architectural heritage allows us to maintain connections with our past, culture and each other – giving them life into the future. But in order to care for all parts of a heritage structure, an informed conservation plan is needed. We support our clients to care for their heritage buildings and produce responsible conservation plans that minimise the risk of damage and unnecessary deterioration, which can sadly be the result of well-intentioned but ill-informed decisions relating to heritage conservation.”

— Mark Milevski, Materials Testing Specialist, Heritage Services

Our heritage services


  • Onsite observation and dilapidation survey
  • Determination of suitable mortar, render and coatings
  • Heritage fabric condition report
  • Sample collection

Mortar Compositional Analysis

  • XRD analysis for semi-quantitative identification of constituents
  • Determination of cement (pozzolan) / lime / sand content
  • Sizing of aggregate and microscopic examination to determine sand morphology
  • Determination of clay content
  • Recommendations for replacement mortar mixes

On-site Testing

  • Moisture survey: moisture mapping of building surfaces
  • Sorptivity: absorption pattern of heritage fabric
  • Salt damp detection: presence of soluble salt in heritage fabric

Laboratory Testing

  • Determination of mineral composition of mortars and coatings
  • Efflorescence analysis: salt type (XRD) and salt content (TDS)
  • Desalination progress eg TDS of poultice


  • Stone and mortar health: extent of deterioration and weathering
  • Weathering factors: rising / falling damp, salts, UV, human impact etc
  • Preparation of conservation plan

Treatment Recommendation – for restorable materials

  • Salt removal: poulticing, wet/dry cycling and vacuuming
  • Damp management: hardware repair and management
  • Intervention treatment: damp proof course and drainage diversion
  • Stone Treatment: consolidant characterisation and matching
  • Desalination progress eg TDS of poultice

Material Matching – material replacement

  • Compatibility testing: physical and chemical characteristics of matching new materials
  • Accelerated testing: accelerated weathering tests on new materials

Preventative Conservation

  • Ongoing site survey, integrated maintenance and management plan

Research Projects

  • Heritage related research projects
  • Investigation of traditional building materials
  • Specific material analysis and research

Failure Analysis

  • Investigation into material failure in restored heritage buildings

For past projects see the Project Involvement list and Project Highlights gallery.