Archive for the 'Stucco' Category
The work has not stopped!

So the holidays are past and it is tax time again.  In the true spirit of procrastination I have decided to catch up on the blog rather than work on my taxes!  I think I left off with the preparation of the front porch for stucco.  In addition to the stucco, I wanted to have a french drain on the side of the porch.  The back of my lot is the high ground and the left side of the house has a concrete dog run which becomes a gutter in a heavy rain.  Around here we are sensitive to the runoff that gets into the nearby (across the street) Lynnhaven inlet.  With a nice 4’x4’x4′ french drain at the end of the dog run, any runoff will go into the french drain and be absorbed by the sand rather than hit the storm drains that feed into the inlet. The pictures below show Marice digging the drain and filling with gravel and landscape material.  Finally covering with some more decorative rock.

 

Now here is the bit about stuccoing the front porch.  It turned pretty cold which is not good for cement based products.  It’s not so much fun for the masons either.  The solution was a giant tarp making a tent over the entire porch which blocked the wind and allowed a small heater to fight off the cold.  The picts below show the stucco proceeding inside the blue tarp.  Kind of looks like it’s under water.  It also allowed a kool unveiling for the neighbors when the tarp was removed and revealed the finished stucco.  Now we just need to get the blankey blank soffit and facia completed!

Oh yes, it takes some time for the SBC to cure and weather in to a final color.  On the front of the house I plan to use whitewash just as I did on the front dormer to even out the color and make the front really pop.  That will have to wait for warmer weather however.

 

The Front Porch

First I have to say that, like most Craftsman houses, the front porch is the most awesome feature of the house.  All craftsmans are characterized by big front porches with columns and frequently a dormer above.  The craftsman ascetic is a fusion of asian and mission.  With my porch you can clearly see this.  The massive posts of the porch are very asian in look with tapered bases, a base cap with a smaller post above.  Check it out in this picture:

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If you look closely (blow up the photo) you can see the mission influence with the arch that covers the whole width of the porch.  The walls of the porch and the base of the posts up to the base cap are poured concrete about 13 inches thick!  Massive!  The porch wall caps and column caps were cast on site and are solid concrete.  The post above the cap are block.  L shaped and mortared together just like the walls of the house.  On top of the columns is a massive 25 foot 6 x 12 inch wooden beam treated with creosote. This is hidden by wood framing and wooden lath that is covered in stucco. This can be seen in the following picture which shows the dark beam partially revealed by removal of the stucco and lath.

Arch above stairs with lath removed showing massive dark beam

Arch above stairs with lath removed showing massive dark beam.  Note wiring in the soffit for down lights to come later.

The stucco showed the wear of the years and storms.  It had been frequently patched and in some cases just fell off with a tap of the hammer.  We removed all of the stucco and lath from the wooden arches.

North end of the porch

North end of the porch

 

South end of the porch

South end of the porch

Then we covered all of the wooden structure with cement board and removed the ceiling of the porch.  It had apparently been replaced in the past and was in reasonable condition but it had to come down so we could really inspect the area above for roof leaks (we found a few that the roofers repaired).  It also offered the opportunity to install can lights for the porch which I did post haste.  Finally, we pressure washed the stucco, hammered and patched all loose stucco, parged the caps with cement to fill small erosion pits and installed sheathing for the ceiling.  Whew!  All of this took three days with a full crew.  Here is a picture of the porch ready for stucco.  I have a surprise later for the porch ceiling.

REady for stucco and all lit up!

Ready for stucco and all lit up!

Finally, finally we addressed a long standing (and I mean standing) water problem.  The floor of the porch is beautiful, multicolored tile but the person that did it did not correct the grading of the porch slab before laying the tile.  Therefore, water pools in each corner of the porch.  In order to save the tile, which I really like, and avoid the expense of leveling the porch I decided to install drains in each corner.  This involved core drilling 2,  4 inch holes through tile and the 6 inch slab for the drains and cutting 2, 16 x 16 inch holes in the front of the porch walls. Did I mention that the walls are 13 inches thick?  The large diamond saw the masons use only cuts about 6 inches deep so the rest was drilled and hammer chiseled out.  This allowed pipes to be placed to carry the water from the drains.  Once the pipe was set, the holes were back filled with sand and closed with brick.  You can see one of the drains inside the porch in the first picture below and outside in the second picture.

New Porch Drain, notice the beautiful tile

New Porch Drain, notice the beautiful tile

The patched hole for the drain

The patched hole for the drain

 

 

 

Now cleaning the porch with a hose will be much easer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The porch is now ready for new stucco and paint for the caps.  I can’t wait till its finished!!

My masons are over achievers

The north side of the house has a bunch of windows which is a real problem.  That side of the house takes the brunt of the coastal storms and it shows it.  Most of the deterioration on the house is on this side.  My thought is that I want this side of the house to be bullet proof but I also want some light to get into this side of the house.  The solution is to remove the current windows, including the wooden parts embedded in the walls.  Rebuild the openings to be 100 percent masonry and to install glass block windows to let in the light.  This is pretty involved because it included casting new concrete window sills to install further up in the opening.  Those things are heavy!  You can see from the pictures that this is a significant change.  I hope that the change will be in keeping with the style of the house and period.  I think the windows look awesome and look original to the house.  The bonus is that they don’t transmit any sound and they are waterproof.  They also look pretty kool from outside lit up at night.

A busy day around the Manor

Well today was a busy day on many levels.  All three trades, carpentry, roofing and masonry were working hard even thought there was a slight mist.  The first roof tile was set:

Tom sets the first roof tiles!

Tom sets the first roof tiles!

This is because the carpenters are talking to the roofer and they finally got enough repairs completed so the roofer could get started.  The carpenters are about 95% complete with the repairs.  They still have to put on the soffits and wrap the facia with PVC lumber but that is another day, week or month.  Who knows??

 

The masons make holes and fill them up on the north wall.  Mysteries abound.  It seems that in the distant past there was a window.  We know it was a window because there was a partial bonding beam with rebar that was over the window.  Then there was a problem or an alteration.  The hole on the right side of where the window used to be was tall enough to make a door.  However, it would have been a very narrow door and it would have been very high up on the side of the house and off of a landing on the stairs to the second floor.  My theory, and there is no one to dispute it, there was damage to the window, possibly a hurricane in ’35.  Maybe a tree went through the window and damaged the wall above.  At any rate there was a hole in the wall.  Then came the repair.  A very poor repair, although, it lasted over 30 years.  They pulled out the rubble and framed the hole with 2x4s.  Then they covered the hole with tar paper.  That’s right, just tar paper, no sheathing.  Then they nailed up old fashioned expanded metal lath.  The kind with formed metal cross members about 2″ apart.  It is pretty stiff stuff.  Then then layered on about 2 inches of stucco to close the hole.  It was pretty solid and hard but it was cracked all around the perimeter of the hole.  It had to come out!  Oh yes, the masons continue to put everyone else to shame.  They work like crazy and the progress is rapid.  Not only did they repair the hole, they also put up vapor barrier and concrete board over the framed part of the north wall, blocked up the small window in the shack over the basement stairs and replaced two windows with block on the mud room in the back.  These guys really know how to work!

The start of uncovering the hole.

The start of uncovering the hole.

 

 

 

 

 

A glimpse into the past

A glimpse into the past

A large section came off in one piece!

A large section came off in one piece!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then the repair.  The right way!

 

 

 

 

 

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Julio fills the hole with CMUs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished repair before stucco

The finished repair before stucco

 

 

 

 

 

What is ancient, durable and beautiful to put on your walls?

If you have a stucco house and are thinking of painting, STOP!  Stucco should never be painted. In this case the old ways are the best ways.  Overtime, stucco develops microcracks that contribute to aging and deterioration.  Stucco must also breath.  It transpires.  This is not good for paint.  The answer… lime paint! It is very simple, has stood the test of time (think ancient Greece) and extremely inexpensive.  It will infiltrate the micro cracks and harden and seal the surface.  It is like coating your walls with liquid limestone.  Well, that is actually what you are doing.  Actually the mineral calcite (calcium carbonate) is what the lime wash will transform into as it cures.  It looks like milk and goes on as a transparent wash.  As it dries, it becomes more opaque and a very bright white.  In fact, the more coats you add, the more luminous it becomes.  This is because the crystals of calcium carbonate  refract the light and make the surface glow.  We tested it on the SBC and it is a wow!  The SBC is white and looks fine as is but it has a slight grey tinge.  I plan to whitewash the front of the house.  Doing the rest of the house can wait but I want the curb appeal of a glowing white house!  I said it is inexpensive.  This is true for the material.  Basically you buy a bag of hydrated lime (Calcium Hydroxide) and mix with water.  That’s it.  The stuff is really cheap but that is not the whole cost.  It takes labor to paint it on and lots of it.  I would say that three coats is the minimum. Five coats will make your walls really pop.  So that is a lot of coats.  The good news is that it will hold up very well and never peel.  It will not require recoating for at least 5 years and likely more.  In the future it will only require a single coat to freshen up after a light power wash.

 

Remember, NEVER PAINT STUCCO!

 

Oh, and if you insist on colors other than white, most concrete colorants will work or, if you like pink,  you could use pigs blood like they do in some towns in England!

Paint Test

So this weekend I had several projects but the one I am most excited about is the paint for the exterior window sills.  The Palette of colors for the renovation is based on the roof tile selection.  It is a combination of beige and green.  The green is a pale copper patina color.  Of course the flashing for the roof is copper and will eventually turn green as well.  Lots of salt air.  I am actually thinking on chemically treating it to accelerate the coloration.  Anyway, I first picked the paint type.  I boiled it down to two possibilities, Epoxy or Polyurethane.  Both are two part catalyzed hardened and very long lasting. Epoxy is a little prone to chalking from UV so they add a protectant.  The catalyzer or part B in the trade parlance for epoxy has a very short life after you open it.  It is packed in nitrogen and when opened and exposed to oxygen, it starts to go bad.  It is no good after about 7 days.  This makes it hard to do small projects that only call for a small amount of paint.  Epoxy also needs a primer for concrete.  Guess what the primer is that they use.  Polyurethane!  Poly on the other hand is self priming on concrete and also very durable.  It also holds up well to UV, salt, alkali and many chemicals.  It is used as pool paint which is one of the most unforgiving environments ever!  It seems to fit the bill for me.

Now I found a mfg. of the paint, topsecretcoatings.com, which also has a pretty good selection of colors. I picked martini green to test.  One rule is that the surface must be absolutely dry.  No painting in the rain or even a very foggy day.  So since it was raining outside, I decided to test it on the concrete mantle over the fireplace.  Ok, so how many people have a concrete mantle over their fireplace.  Not many!  So here it is and I am extremely pleased……

This will be the color of all the window sills and exterior concrete accents on the house.

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So it’s happy hour and still raining!

I am having happy hour with myself this evening and I figured it was a good time to get a few posts in on the house.  The rain has been a deluge and, due to many factors, I have roof leaks.  Every hour when it is raining I have to empty a container under a particularly prolific leak that is difficult to get to.  A real pain in the A–!  The membrane covering the roof until the tile is installed has been perforated and repaired (poorly) on several occasions due to various trades like carpenters, roofers and masons making unfortunate but mostly understandable mistakes.  Be advised that when a nail or screw is driven through the ice and water shield membrane you had better never remove it.  Unless the remover is particularly anal about caulking the holes left by removal, you WILL have a leak!  The good news is that the roof is not installed yet and we have had a water test of sufficient magnitude to reveal all possible leaks.  I have been very persistent in documenting all of these leaks and I am sure that my roofer will replace the membrane in these areas to solve the problem.  If a roofer tells you that some calk on the uphill side of a batten nailed to the roof will stop the leak, don’t believe it.

 

So what has happened lately you ask?

Well, before this past weekend the masons finished up the south side of the house and it looks awesome!

It went from this:

SBC on south side

SBC on south side 

……To this…….

South Side SBC complete

South Side SBC complete

You really have to feel this stuff to appreciate it.  It is really solid and pretty in the light.

Anyway it is great to have the dog run back in business.

 

The work is underway again

Ok, I have finally gotten back to keeping up this blog.  A few projects have intervened along the way.  The chimney has been rebuilt.  I will have a page up on that project soon.  Right now there are two projects underway at the same time.  I have just finished the Roofing Project page here.  This project started last month and is ongoing.  More to come on that.  At the same time, the Stucco project is underway but I have not finished the project page yet.  Stay tuned for more to come……