Conservation and Restoration of Azulejo – Fonte do cano, Vinhais, Portugal

The particularity of this restoration work resides in the framing of the panels, since they are located outside, integrated in a fountain and so with an increased presence of humidity.

It should also be noted that the area where the fontain is located (Trás-os-Montes, Portugal) has particular climatic conditions: snow and ice in winter and very hot in summer.


Barroque fontain 

The “backrest” and tank date back to the 18th century. It has a granite stone structure, with a coat of arms made up of a Royal Shield with five shields arranged in a cross.

The side walls are covered with tile panels from the beginning of the 20th century (1930s). Nationally manufactured, they will probably belong to the Sant’Anna Factory, according to the inscription. On the right panel, the representation of the Pelourinho da Vila appears, and on the left panel, the extinct Chapel of Misericórdia is represented. In various shades of blue, both representations present a total frame, formed by acanthus leaves and based on a pedestal.

conservation conditions

Various dirt – Accumulation of dust, traces of paints, various types of adhesives, remnants of mortar on the surface, with a special focus on the lower area of ​​both panels (Vd Map of pathologies). This type of dirt, does not normally cause degradation in the ceramic materials, however, causes an unsightly effect contributing to a break in the reading of the panels.

Presence of fractures and cracks – Occur due to movements of the structure itself, by laying with mortars of high mechanical resistance, by impact force (by voluntary or involuntary anthropic action) or by the release of accumulated stresses during the manufacturing process.

Glaze gaps -. This pathology is due to the fact that this tile set is exposed to different thermal amplitudes, to the natural wear and tear of the intervening materials and to the action of numerous stresses on the ceramic support.

Breakdown of the joke – Change due to loss of cohesion of the azulejo itself. This type of pathology presents a powdery aspect (sanding) or a laminated aspect (exfoliation), which can affect a large part of the thickness of the paste.

Biodegradation – There is the presence of fungi, caused mainly by the strong presence of moisture, in several areas where there is a loss of cohesion  or even total loss.


Opening of Joints

This step was carried out with the help of a spatula / scalpel and a small mallet, in order to carefully remove the mortar from the joints, as they are aged and disintegrated.

Punctual fixation in the posting areas.

This process was carried out with an application of acrylic resin, diluted in a 15% organic solvent, (Paraloid B72 solution with 5% acetone).

Treatment of biological colonization through disinfestation.

The glaze and joints were sprayed with a biocidal product based on quartenary ammonium salts of the type Benzalkonic Chloride , in a solution between 2 and 4%.

Cleaning the Glazed Surface

Cleaning was carried out with the aid of a scalpel / soft bristle brushes + cleaning solution (distilled water + 5% ethanol + neutral detergent – depending on the type of dirt the remover is made of by dust, adhesives or paints), and then each set was cleaned with cotton.

Filling joints

The joints were filled with traditional mortar based on silica sand and aerial lime, in a proportion of 2/1, and the application was made using a sponge.

Filling of volumetric gaps

The filling was done with mortar composed of hydraulic lime in mass and silica flour with a size of 200, in a proportion of 1/3, applied with a spatula.

Chromatic reintegration

The reintegration was carried out only in areas of gap, following the mimicry technique. The color was given by the use of pigments agglutinated in acrylic resin, using a palette of shades given by the pigments ultramarine blue, brown van dick and white titanium.

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