John Speweik

John Speweik, CSI is a historic masonry specialist for Speweik Preservation Consultants, Inc., an independent consulting and testing agency specializing in matching historic stone, brick and lime mortar based in Elgin, Illinois.

He is a fifth generation mason, from a family of masons, ca. 1870 Posen, Prussia. John has developed a vibrant passion for replicating historic masonry materials in both design and application using the building itself as his model. His reputation as an innovator and pioneer in lime mortars has prompted revolutionary changes to the masonry restoration industry in the past 20 years. John believes strongly that buildings have a voice and communicate clearly through visible patterns. He identifies these patterns and then interprets and translates the findings into workable treatment options for his clients.

His dream of one day traveling to England to meet other heritage stone masons became a reality in 1997. John has made regular trips back to England since and has developed many friendships while completing academic courses and workshops on traditional masonry conservation. He has had the privilege of working on several castles with fellow Scottish stone masons to gain personal insight into the challenges of lime work on vintage masonry walls and bring that knowledge back to American stone masons.

The goal of John’s work is to develop historic rehabilitation treatment recommendations and certified project specifications sensitive to the historic integrity of each specific building – supported by the actual installation of those recommendations into the facade masonry while establishing the workmanship quality standard for installation.

John Speweik has created a unique test panel certificate training program in support of this goal. The training incorporates “on-the-wall” skill demonstrations to evaluation worker proficiency to execute the specified project treatments. John has written many articles and publications on historic masonry and is a recognized authority on lime for use in masonry restoration and plaster applications. He is an active member of ASTM C12 and was instrumental in the development of ASTM C1713 Standard Specification for Mortars for the Repair of Historic Masonry recently approved and published in February 2010.

“The guiding principle of respect and honor in a true master craftsman are found not in his words, but on the wall, through the work of his hand.”     J. Speweik, March 2010

  1. #1 by Rob Wozniak on February 23, 2012 - 4:16 pm

    Love the blog John. Saw it through a comment on Linkedin and I am reading all the posts now. Especially appreciated the info on finding sped-tile.

  2. #2 by Dave Boux on January 8, 2013 - 1:58 pm

    Hey John, I will send you some pics of a job I have going on. I restore all the plaster work at The Vaile Mansion in Independance Mo. And I will be working on the restoration of the foundatio. This is a beautiful second gen Empire style Victorian. I may have some questions for you! Thanks Dave

  3. #3 by Mike on April 17, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    I just read your post tagged ‘historic back-up clay block’; the image and info were quite helpful. I’m surveying a WPA (1938) building in the south that was built to be a school for the deaf, and the “partition block” is used everywhere in the interior.
    Question: I see why there is no need for lath (metal or other) when plastering for the finish, but what is the typical thickness of plaster that you have come across during inspections? The picture seems to show at least 7/8″ of plastering. Fair?
    If so is it common that a 3 3/4″ thick tile partition with 7/8″ plaster coat span up to 17′-0″ in height? My walls are roughly 5 1/2″ thick. I can’t do an autopsy, as the building is currently in use.

    • #4 by John Speweik on April 21, 2014 - 3:19 pm

      The actual thickness of the plastering should be in relation to the purpose and the substrate it is attached too. In the case of structural clay tile, most buildings we have encountered have a three-coat plaster system which is typical of this period – prior to the use of concrete block. Plaster material total thickness does not typically exceed 3/4-inch in most applications. I have; however, seen plaster applied as thin as 1/2-inch.

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