Over 150 years ago, the United States Capitol Dome was constructed of cast iron by the Architects of the Capitol. Now, for the first time since 1960, the current Architect has just completed a full restoration, which has taken place over the course of several years.
Why did this symbol of American freedom need to be restored, you ask? For one, water came through tiny pinholes in the Statue of Freedom as well as through open joints and cracks in the exterior shell, consisting of the base of the cupola, the tholos balustrade, and the boilerplate balcony level. These leaks led to rusting the ironwork and weakening the paint coatings over time. Also, the decorative elements making the Dome unique had rusted and fallen from the structure, meaning it was high time to fix this work of art.
There were more than 1,000 cracks needing of repair to ensure the Dome was watertight. This entailed the replacement and restoration of ornamentation and cast iron. New layers were applied after removing the exterior paint so that the Dome will be protected from corrosion and effects from the elements. Scaffolding was applied around the exterior and in the Rotunda, a large room in the center of the second floor.
Back in 1960, the paint on the Dome was stripped to allow the ironwork to be repaired and then primed with a rust inhibitor, so this renovation was definitely due. Identified items in 2001 were shown as having been further deteriorated in 2010, upon review, so it was time to fix the place up to protect its visitors. In 2013, the Architect awarded the contract and gave notice to begin the work. As planned, it was complete before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, and this current restoration should last for a whopping 50 years before another one is necessary. We’ll take it!
To put the size of this project into perspective, the Dome weighs 8,909,200 lbs. There were 12,800 inches of cracked cast iron repaired; 1,215 gallons of paint used; 52 miles of scaffold pipe applied; 14,700 sqft. total Rotunda safety netting used; and 2 miles of decking placed from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial. That’s a lot of materials!
While Pro Painters, your Houston painting company, has not worked on any projects as nationally recognized as the Capital Dome, we have worked on many large local projects, such as the NRG Center and Minute Maid Park. We specialize in Houston exterior painting, and are the reliable and experienced company you need to get the job done right!