State of stonework under the render

The barn we are trying to buy is covered with a rock hard render (sand & cement maybe). The barn is quite old (maybe 200 years). It would be good to remove and expose the stone, but my concern is that the wall underneath will just be a mess and not very attractive. So my question is… typically when removing render were you pleased with the stonework underneath?

Clearly I am expecting to re-point using a suitable lime mortar. I just wondered if anyone had done this before.

The barn is in the Languedoc

Hi Darren

What do the insides of the outer walls look like? If the stonework inside looks reasonable - I would think you are onto a winner.

I ask this since I’ve seen a few buildings in my Commune where exposing the stones has taken place.

One, had brickwork in a large area, rather than stones - presumably filling a gap/mending after damage - who knows. I do know that the builders had to remove the bricks/whatever and replace with stonework to match the rest. Not a problem, but is is an additional cost.

Another had more rough/odd cobbles than the big stones - in a couple of areas. Again, the answer was to remove and replace.

Our own house has an outer covering of something solid. The house itself dates back to 12thC and I like to think it is all good, solid, glorious stone blocks. The walls are 1+metre thick - but I am too nervous/impoverished to risk taking the outer shell off. It is impossible for us to judge from the inside, since it has been plastered etc over the years and to strip back inside and outside would cost more than I think it is worth…

If your would-be property has not been lived in - it might be in a raw state inside and easy to judge.

If you asking whether “pierre apparente” is worth it - I would say YES. Properly done it can be magnificent but does need to be done with regard for the “old ways” - not just stuffing cement in the gaps :zipper_mouth_face:

Surely if it’s an empty barn/grange then the internal walls should be highly visible. Have you not ‘checked them out’ or sought advice from someone local who is qualified ?


I checked the internals @anon89172871 and @Stella and the quality is pretty good for 200 years. I was hoping that the outside is as good as the inside.

It transpires the barn was used for wine manufacture. It has two huge concrete vats and a vintage press thingy. I have asked that the internals be cleared. I hope they are not worth anything.

Other conversions in the village reveal a lovely red stone finish. Its looks so much nicer than the render but I guess not at resilient

Have you asked anyone locally about the red stone and rendering.

Around here, in years gone by folk lived in their barns with their animals. Rendering was put on a barn/building to denote “wealth” - or at least a certain standing within the community - to show that this was NOT a barn, but a dwelling (even if still attached). eg I am rich enough not to need to sleep with the cows to keep warm. :rofl::wink:

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And nowadays folk hanker after the bare stone - glorious in my view !:hugs:

Well, I would agree.

However I suspect the Mairie may well insist we keep it on at the front as the others in the terrace have it.

I never understand why are European cousins don’t “keep up” the appearance of their properties. Something to do with the tax man?

Woahhhh - possibly something to do with the amount of disposable income and where they see their priorities?

You sound like Hyacinth Bucket @anon58066726 :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


First point of call then is surely the Mairie … as to ‘keeping up appearances’ of properties it may be that the locals don’t have the money to ‘tart up the outsides’, for some people having enough money to live on and feed their family is a priority !


In my experience a hard cement render of a stone wall normally signals that the stone underneath is in poor condition and the cement protects the wall, the other thing is that the cement will stick to the stone so well that the face of the stone will be pulled off when removing the cement.

As for removing the concrete vats, that is quite a task in time and money.

I’ve done a couple of walls for friends, you take a chance knocking the cement off, it might well be all that’s holding the wall together in places. A tell tale sign is if there are any bulges where the cement render has cracked or fallen off - might mean the the internal mud/cowshit/crosshair etc has turned to powder. It’s hard work knocking cement out, you need a decent SDS drill and chisels.

If the stonework looks crap underneath, pointing it can make it look a lot better, and if its still crap, then re-render with lime mortar.
Good luck

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yeah I recon they are cemented to the walls too.

If you cannot conceive of an idea whereby the vats and (particularly) the ancient press might become items of interest in the building - all well and good to have them removed - but make sure that you are not paying for the work as I reckon it will cost a pretty penny.

An ancient press, proving part of the history of the building - might be something a bit special.

Its pretty big thou @Stella. I’d like to keep as much of the original features but this looks like it weighs 1/2 a tonne.

I had concrete vats in my chai and got them removed except for the bits stuck to the wall - my maçons said the wall would probably come down if I tried to remove them, so I kept the back and had bookcases built onto them (there are over 20 000 books in this house). The stone walls themselves were a bit of a mixed bag, some nice creamy limestone, some places where a bucket of black cement with pebbles in was chucked into the wall.

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Ha ha… I didn’t suggest you moved it… incorporate it - :thinking: or… maybe not. I suppose it’s not as interesting as the mill-workings that are often left in situ.

Did your Vats come out cleanly or were they a fag? Took extra time et al.

any possibility of turning a Vat into a Toilet/shower etc … or similar ?? I’m sure there’s somewhere in the Charente where they did something like that. Of course, it all depends on size and location within the building.

they take up a large part of the floor area…and there are two of them 3 metres apart