Installation of stainless metal reinforcements in stone cultural monuments

  • Jure Balić Conservation and Restoration Department, Arts Academy, University of Split, Split, Croatia
  • Siniša Bizjak Conservation and Restoration Department, Arts Academy, University of Split, Split, Croatia
Keywords: stainless steel, stone monuments, artwork conservation/restoration


Objective: To provide examples of the installation of stainless-steel reinforcements in a stone cultural monument as part of conservation and restoration work.

Methods: During conservation and restoration works, metal elements in stone monuments are replaced by stainless steel, which shares the same physical properties as, for example, iron, but its chemical properties are much superior. Estimates of appropriate reinforcement, technical drawings and a detailed plan are drafted before the installation of stainless-steel reinforcements in the stonework itself. For more demanding calculations and designs, structural and other engineers and architects were consulted to obtain the optimal dimensions of structural elements.

Results: The presented examples of stone monuments (an ancient stone sarcophagus, two ancient sculptures, one medieval portal, two baroque baptismal fonts and a baroque bell gable) were reinforced with stainless steel. A reinforcing mesh was utilized to connect fragments of the sarcophagus and reconstruct the missing parts. The sculptures were found in fragments and required steel reinforcement to be set up in a free-standing position. The baptismal fonts were also found in fragments due to the corrosion of their iron clamps; they were furnished with a detachable, externally invisible steel reinforcement. The medieval portal was at risk of collapse due to the static instability caused by the rupture of its load-bearing lintel. The lintel was reinforced with a steel bar, which absorbs compression forces acting on the stone superstructure. The baroque bell gable was a prime example of a monument damaged by its iron clamps. These were completely removed and the structural stability was secured by embedding a reversible steel structure in the stonework.

Conclusion: Good physical and chemical properties make stainless steel the basic material in the reinforcement of stone cultural monuments. Its application in the conservation and restoration of stone monuments is currently the best and most efficient solution for restoring sustainable structural stability, original appearance and optimal positioning of monuments, as well as preventing further deterioration.

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