How to Maintain a Building’s Structural Integrity

Steel lintels are an integral part of a building and commonly overlooked when it comes to proper building maintenance.

Property owners and managers have a lot to think about when it comes to the upkeep and maintenance of the buildings they oversee. Maintaining the structural integrity of a building is key to ensuring a longer life span for integral materials in a building, such as lintels.

A lintel is a piece of steel that sits above a doorway, window frame or other opening, which supports the masonry above it. Lintels come in a variety of shapes; an ‘L’ shape, an ‘I’ shape and a ‘C’ shape. The different shapes depend on the width of the masonry opening, and the amount of weight it will be supporting.

Below are some common questions that Dakota Evans Restoration receives about lintel failure and replacements.

What causes a lintel to fail? Lintel failures are almost always the result of water intrusion. As water infiltrates the brick, the steel lintels begin to rust and expand, cracking the masonry above it. A common mistake that a property owner or manager can make is to caulk the joint where the masonry meets the steel.

Do I need to replace my lintel? In order to determine whether or not a lintel needs to be replaced, its structural integrity needs to be assessed. The lintel pictured should serve as a reference point on whether or not a replacement is needed. The picture illustrates that the steel has become separated from the masonry and the front edge of it was caulked, which keeps water in. This lintel is in need of replacement.

What are the implications if I do not replace my lintel? The most pressing concern with not replacing a lintel is the structural integrity to the masonry it is supporting. There is a potential for failure of the steel which, in extreme circumstances, could lead to the masonry above it collapsing. However, the tell-tale signs of a lintel and masonry failure will be apparent. The mortar joints located directly above the lintel will start to fail with the possibility of the brick beginning to crack. Rust coming through the mortar directly to the left and right of the lintel may also become apparent.

Are there alternatives? If the deterioration is caught early enough, the rust can be grinded off the lintel, a rust inhibitive primer can be applied, then it can be coated with an epoxy paint with a UV protectant topcoat. In most situations, this will deter or slow down the process of needed replacement

What should I look for when I have a lintel replaced? A replaced lintel should have a couple of different aspects — some of which are visible and some that are hidden. The most obvious signs of lintel replacement are the condition of the steel; a stainless-steel drip edge that directs water away from the wall, along with the presence of weep ropes (small tubes with pieces of cotton in them designed to wick small amounts of moisture away from the building.) The less obvious signs hidden behind the masonry include rubberized flashing that coats the steel lintel and end dams, which will prevent any water from moving laterally behind the masonry.

For more information about lintels and when it is necessary to replace them, visit dakotaevans.com or call 847-439-5367.

Aluminum is Taking Over the Balcony and Railing Market

Property owners should know the advantages and disadvantages of replacing steel balcony railings with its aluminum counterpart.

Dakota Evans Restoration is advising property owners looking to replace or install a balcony to become familiar with updated building codes and the benefits of different materials that can be used.

Most condominium buildings that need balcony and railing replacements or improvements were built at a time when different building codes were adopted. In the past few years, codes for new railings requires them to be 42 inches high, with no more than 4 inches between the spindles. Buildings built before newer codes were adopted are now grandfathered in, but issues can arise when the actual railing is removed from the balcony. Once removed, the railing cannot be reinstalled if it does not meet current code requirements.

“Many property owners and managers may not be aware that old balcony railings cannot be reattached,” said Chuck McCrimmon, founder and president of Dakota Evans Restoration. “Prior to making a decision on a new railing, a building owner or manager should consider the following aspects of the replacement and removal process: durability, maintenance, cost, variability and installation.”


Steel is extremely strong, but only if it is continually maintained. Water, salt and rust will corrode steel, especially where the post penetrates the balcony. Over time, this can lead to costly welding repairs. Aluminum is a viable solution since it does not rust and is as durable as steel when properly installed.


Steel railings must be continually maintained and painted every few years to prevent rust from forming. If rust spots do develop, the areas need to be ground down to the bare metal and painted, as rust cannot be painted over. Repainting the steel with an epoxy over an industrial enamel may provide a few extra years of protection, but the rail still needs to have consistent upkeep. Proper maintenance for steel railings includes regular cleaning, polishing and repainting. Aluminum is generally known as ‘maintenance free’. The powder coating that is applied will retain a shine for several years, with minor maintenance including hosing the railing down periodically.


Although the price of aluminum has gone up due to an increased demand, and the cost of steel has gone down, aluminum railings are significantly less expensive to fabricate and install compared to steel. This, coupled with the fact that aluminum railings are virtually maintenance-free, shows that aluminum rails can save on time spent on upkeep, in addition to money, in the long run.


Aesthetics, such as the color of railings, also vary between steel and aluminum. Steel can be painted any color, giving property owners flexibility on variation. Since aluminum is powder-coated it is available in a number of modern colors. In terms of design, steel can be welded into a range of designs and shapes. When designing aluminum rails, the possibilities are more limited since the pieces are prefabricated, which allows for little to no customization.


Steel railings are exceptionally hard and time consuming to install due to its heavy weight and the potential need for additional equipment to be put in place. Aluminum is modular, extremely lightweight and easier to manipulate when it is being installed.

Dakota Evans is working at an increased rate with aluminum steel railings, although it does service and install both types of railing systems. If the main focus is cost and longevity, utilizing aluminum has become the best option for a majority of Dakota Evans Restoration clients. If the focus is design and color, steel may be the best option.

For more information, please visit Dakotaevans.com, or call 847-439-5367.

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Property Owners and Managers Should Think Ahead to Spring Projects


Dakota Evans Restoration encourages those who oversee multi-family or commercial properties to plan now for warmer weather projects.

With spring coming, it’s time to start thinking about exterior restoration projects that were put aside during the winter months. As temperatures warm up, and the snow and ice begin to thaw, many property owners may begin to notice cracks or water damage that occurred due to colder temperatures.

“All of the salt that was used during the winter can actually wreak havoc on exterior façades, causing corrosion and other damage,” said Chuck McCrimmon, founder and president of Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. “Dakota Evans Restoration has decades of experience in providing exterior restoration services, and can share our expertise with property and building owners who aren’t sure about which projects to begin first.”

As a result of their vast experience, Dakota Evans has become a performance leader in façade restoration and balcony repairs in the Chicagoland area. Company construction crews continually receive education and training, to ensure they have the most up-to-date information relating to restoration and repair work for commercial and multi-family properties.

Dakota Evans can provide property owners with solutions to a variety of upcoming spring projects, including masonry work, such as tuckpointing, brick work, lintel repairs, stone repairs, water proofing, caulking and glazing, and concrete repair. Additionally, the company has become a leader in balcony repair and replacement.

Steel and concrete balconies can become very costly if they are not properly maintained. During the spring, Dakota Evans can help ensure user safety by performing repairs, including concrete repairs/replacement, C-Channel repair/replacement, weather protection membrane installation or repair, and crack repairs. Full balcony replacements are also available. Additional services include painting, parking garage repairs and Exterior Insulated Finished System repairs.

“Even if you aren’t sure about which projects should be completed once the weather warms up, we can come out and do an inspection to see where issues may arise, if they already haven’t,” McCrimmon said. “We offer no charge for a detailed scope of work, which usually includes pictures and specific materials recommended for each project.”

For more information about services, along with the types of projects Dakota Evans Restoration accepts, call 847-439-5367, or visit Dakotaevans.com.


When Was the Last Time Your Building was Caulked?

A building that is properly caulked reduces the risk of structural damage and water infiltration, while also lowering heating and cooling costs.

As cooler weather approaches, building owners and property managers are encouraged to determine when the last time the exterior of their property was caulked. Caulking is traditionally completed in the fall and winter, when masonry and joints contract due to cooler temperatures, which allows for easier and more successful application of the product.

Caulk that is properly applied to a structure will seal joints and cracks that reduce and/or eliminate the intrusion of air, dust, moisture, insects, pollutants, and noise. Having a building that is properly caulked can additionally result in reduced heating and cooling costs, as well as a lower chance of water infiltration. The infiltration of water can ultimately lead to rust damage, further cracking, and leaks. Anchors that have incurred rust damage can also become unstable and, at times, fail – causing serious damage to structures.

“If you can’t remember the last time your building was caulked, it’s time to do it again,” said Chuck McCrimmon, founder, and president of Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. “Being proactive can help reduce the chances of water infiltration, which can lead to costly repairs in the long run.”

McCrimmon acknowledges that caulk is something that is not regularly considered but is an important part of the overall maintenance of a building. Due to expansion and contraction of joints, voids can occur on the sides of windows and other areas in a structure. Once water gets in and starts expanding, he warns that it is then too late to stop damage from occurring.

In order for the caulk to serve its purpose, it must stay in place for an extended period of time. This can be achieved with proper caulk application, which then maintains proper adhesion to both sides of a joint. Another key factor is making sure caulk can have easy flex movement with the joint it is being adhered to. The ideal time to caulk is when temperatures are between 40 and 80 degrees, and the area is void of frost, dirt, and debris.

By addressing exterior caulking projects during the fall and winter months, moisture is sealed out, causing the building or structure to be more effectively maintained. It is recommended that re-caulking takes place on the exterior of buildings every 8 to 10 years due to the heating and cooling cycles in the Midwest.

For more information, call Dakota Evans at 847-439-5367, or email inquiry@dakotaevans.com. Dakota Evans can be found online at dakotaevans.com.

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Dakota Evans Restoration Handles Large Coating Project at Area Car Dealership

Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc., recently handled a large, time-sensitive 10,000-square foot coating project at an area car dealership.

The company specializes in many different commercial improvement projects, including façade restoration, multi-family balcony repair and parking garages, in addition to the coating project that covered the entire service department floor at a Downers Grove car dealership.

“Car manufacturers actually require that dealerships meet periodic maintenance standards for the floors that their cars are serviced on,” said Sam Miceli, a coating division representative for Dakota Evans. “This work is very specialized and Dakota Evans has years of experience handling these types of projects.”

The entire project from start to finish equaled five full work days, which included times that the dealership was closed so as not to interrupt the dealership’s service schedule.

The process began with a thorough cleaning and degreasing of the floor, which was scrubbed with specialized machines to remove any contaminants. Next, large floor grinders were utilized to remove latent materials. Workers also used hand-held grinders to get around small edges in the floors and columns in the service department area.

“These machines are able to recover almost all of the dust and coatings from the floor, which helps to keep the environment as dust-free as possible,” Miceli said.

The recovery system was then hooked up to a large, commercial HEPA vacuum.

Once these first steps were completed, a grinder with multiple rotating heads was used on the floor surface to remove any leftover residue. Then, the concrete was examined to locate delaminated areas, cracks and damage, or areas broken into small pieces – known as ‘spalls’.

The damaged areas were then removed and patched where needed. All cracks and holes were patched with a 100-percent epoxy mix with sand, which is made into a ‘slurry’ mix that evens out the floor.

After all of the patching was done, the floor needed to cure for a minimum of 24 hours, and then the Dakota Evans team grinded all areas that were patched to ensure there was an even surface. Large blowers were then used and the surface was wiped down with a xylene solvent, to remove all particles off the floor. A two-part epoxy floor primer was then applied to the floor using squeegees, and silica aggregate was broadcast into the epoxy to saturation.

The blowers were used a final time the next day to remove any excess aggregate from floor, leaving a non-slip finish. After all the aggregate was removed and cleaned, an intermediate solid epoxy coat was applied.

One final coat of chemical-resistant urethane was applied to finish the floor, and left to cure overnight before the project was completed.

About Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc.

Dakota Evans is a masonry restoration company based in Palatine, Illinois, that handles a variety of commercial projects in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan. For more information, please visit www.DakotaEvans.com or call 847-439-5367.


Dakota Evans Restoration Tackles Multi-Level Parking Structure Project


Traffic deck coating, caulking and concrete repairs were among the tasks completed by the team at Dakota Evans Restorations, Inc.

Dakota Evans Restoration recently completed a multi-level parking structure project at a large condominium complex in the northwest suburbs.

The 10-year-old, 14,000 square foot parking structure was in need of a number of improvements, including traffic deck coating, caulking, concrete repairs and new striping.

“When we encounter a project of this scale, there are many variables, and several items that need to be corrected to ensure the structure is protected long term from deterioration,” said Mike Landry, a representative of Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc.

Shot blasting, grinding, caulking and crack repair were all completed by Dakota Evans’ crews, which addressed repairs to the concrete, and to the structure itself.

MasterSeal Traffic 2500, a waterproof traffic deck coating system that provides high level protection, was also was applied to the structure for both traffic and pedestrian areas. Striping for each parking space was completed, in addition to miscellaneous concrete repairs.

An epoxy coating system was used to address areas that were severely deteriorated due to calcium chloride infiltration.

Though tenants were asked to remove their vehicles for two weeks, Dakota Evans Restoration was able to complete the project four days ahead of schedule. Landry said the goal of the company is to always to meet and exceed expectations in regards to competition time and budget.

For more information about all of the services provided by Dakota Evans Restoration, please visit the website at http://dakotaevans.com/.

Dakota Evans Hired to Perform Multi-Unit Balcony Restoration Project

Dakota Evans Before and After Patio

The two-year project at a suburban Chicago condominium association includes materials that require an experienced contractor such as Dakota Evans.

Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. is currently working on a large scale balcony restoration project in suburban Chicago, and is one of only a few restoration contractors who can handle a project of this size and scale. The Palatine, Illinois-based firm has more than 20 years of experience handling comparable projects in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

The balcony project will take roughly two years to complete, and is occurring at an eight-building, 5-story condominium complex. It involves restoring and replacing 200 balconies. Dakota Evans’ team is well-versed at working with the unique materials necessary for this type of project.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we do not ‘sub’ out this type of work; we are able to handle all of the steps required to install and make repairs to balconies of this type,” said Mike Landry of Dakota Evans, who specializes in façade restoration and balconies.

The project requires management of steel fabrication, painting, concrete repairs and even scaffolding installation. Dakota Evans expertly handles all phases of the project and its experienced crew works together seamlessly with engineers and project managers to ensure the project is completed on time and at budget. This background expertise provides a worry-free experience for individual unit owners and property managers, as well as a minimal impact on residents.

Other Nuts and Bolts of the Project

Supplementary steel support will be installed and topping slabs will be replaced. New steel channels, along with a Superior Aluminum railing system and a pedestrian waterproofing system will also be added.

Other important qualifications to handle this type of project are that Dakota Evans is extremely knowledgeable about, and able to meet current requirements and code standards.

The architect on this project is Waldman Engineering Consultants. Lead Architect Maggie Pinkous stated that Dakota Evans was chosen to handle the balcony replacement due to a previous positive track record completing other projects for the client.

For more information on all of the services provided by Dakota Evans, visit their website at http://dakotaevans.com/ or call 847-439-5367.


Dakota Evans Partners with Elmhurst Architecture Firm on Restoration of Famed Mies van der Rohe House

McCormick House pictureMcCormick House is a post-war steel and glass modular home built in 1952, which was purchased by the Elmhurst Art Museum and moved to the museum campus in 1994.  

The largest of three houses in the U.S. built and designed by famed architect and builder Mies van der Rohe, is currently undergoing the first phase of an extensive restoration project to bring it back to its post-war glory.

The structure, called McCormick House, was built in 1952 and originally located at 299 Prospect Avenue in Elmhurst, Illinois. It was purchased by the Elmhurst Art Museum and moved to is present location on the museum campus in 1994. The house is considered a cornerstone of the museum’s collection.

The restoration project was initiated due to considerable paint deterioration on the home’s steel exterior and interior. Damage also resulted from decades of rain falling over the flat roof, which caused large pieces of the building to fall off of the nearly 55-year-old modular pre-fab home.

Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. based in Palatine, Illinois is the general contractor of the project. Among their tasks are to remove multiple layers of paint (40 Mils thick), in addition to abatement, coating of all interior and exterior surfaces, caulking, window glazing and concrete replacement.

“Dakota Evans is uniquely qualified to work on projects such as this, where specific skills are needed to ensure the integrity of the structure is maintained during the restoration process,” said Sam Miceli, of Dakota Evans Restoration’s coating division. “Safety codes, as well as working in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Restoration are highly important professional skill-sets to possess.”

Elmhurst-based Architecture Studio is leading the restoration project, under the direction of founder Heidi Granke. Among the firm’s areas of expertise are historic preservation, design and planning, and specifically working with dated materials to maintain their historical integrity as they are restored to their original appearance.

Due to the substantial metal surfaces both inside and outside of the structure which were beginning to show rust, Dakota Evans utilized coating techniques required to upgrade the surfaces and prevent further corrosion.

The all glass and steel structure’s architectural significance is that it was a prototype for mass-produced modular housing. The house was inspired by Farnsworth House (1951) in Plano, Illinois, as well as Lake Shore Drive Towers at 860-880 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago (1951), which also utilized glass and steel materials on the interior and exterior. Use of these materials was a brand new concept in the 1950’s.

In addition to the notable history of the structure itself, there are also stories of former high profile Chicago area residents and others connected to McCormick House.

“The house was originally built for Isabella Gardner, and her third husband, Robert Hall McCormick III, who was the grandson of Robert McCormick, Jr., one of the developers who worked with Mies on Lake Shore Drive Towers,” said Jenny Gibbs, the Elmhurst Art Museum executive director.

Gardner was a critically acclaimed poet, and actress whose social circles included the likes of Orson Welles, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost and other high profile individuals whom she and her husband entertained in the home between 1952 and 1959, Gibbs said. The two ultimately divorced, which caused major gossip among elite social circles in the Chicago area.

Bella, as she was nick named, was also the niece and goddaughter of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who founded the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts.

The first phase of the restoration project is expected to be completed in early May. Later phase projects for the ongoing restoration of McCormick House will include floor replacement, wall reconfiguration and replacement of a post construction kitchen to its original location.

On May 14, Elmhurst Art Museum will host Soiree 2016, which will be entitled ‘Seduction by Design.’ The evening will recreate the Chicago Playboy Club, circa 1960 in conjunction with the exhibit Playboy Architecture 1953-1979. To learn more visit ElmhurstArtMuseum.org/soiree.


Dakota Evans Caulk Talk: Winter is the Optimal Time for Exterior Caulking Projects

Dakota Evans handled a caulking project at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Dakota Evans handled a caulking project at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois.

Due to the heating and cooling cycles in the Midwest, the exterior of buildings should be re-caulked every 8-11 years.

So what does a masonry restoration company do during the winter months in the Midwest? The answer is (which surprises some) a substantial amount of exterior caulking projects, despite the chilly temperatures.

“Most people think you can’t caulk a building when it’s cold outside; in fact, the most successful caulking projects are completed in the winter,” said Chuck McCrimmon, founder and president of Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. “Cold temperatures cause building joints and masonry to contract, allowing us to more easily apply caulk to them.”

The types of buildings and/or structures that are prime candidates for exterior caulking projects include pre-cast, parking structures, masonry buildings, window parameters and control joints.

Despite the work being done outside, Dakota Evans keeps the caulking materials at room temperature with the use of caulk heaters. The building joints are cleared with solvent-based cleaners.

Polyurethane silicones and hybrids such as a polyether are used, to provide for more longevity.

By addressing exterior caulking projects during the winter months, moisture is sealed out causing the building or structure to be more effectively maintained. For more information, call 847-439-5367 or email inquiry@dakotaevans.com. Dakota Evans can be found online at http://dakotaevans.com.

About Dakota Evans Restoration Inc.

Founded in 1997, Dakota Evans Restoration, Inc. serves clients in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Projects include multi-family housing, hospitals, private universities and commercial buildings. Among the company specialties are tuck pointing, masonry repair, balcony repair and replacement, concrete repair and specialty coatings (painting) services.