Stucco, stucco stucco, playing in the mud on the outer walls.

On Wednesday July 14, I had a dental appointment in London and got myself another 5 gallons of drywall primer as well.  The following 2 days let me finish up the priming in the garage/workshop drywall and then I spent a day getting all my mortar mixing gear ready for the stucco application.   On July 17, I put the first stucco to wall on the southeast corner of the the garage.   The following day all of the the south wall was completed, and the next day the west wall around the corner to the north face.   I then took a day to get more portland cement for making up my stucco mix.

July 17, the whiter cured stucco on the corner was applied, the darker grey in back applied the day after.

The rest of the south wall stucco applied for the first coat.

July 19, west wall stucco scratch coat done.

Northwest corner of garage, scratch coat done.

I had an odyssey tracking down my preferred brand of cement.   In the work last summer on the surface-bonding cement I discovered that one brand  Essroc made in Picton, ON was notably lighter in color when it was cured.  This was a definite desired factor in the final visible surface.   I got that batch of cement quite by accident at the TSC store in Strathroy, ON when my usual source in Lambeth was running out at the end of the summer.  Normally the TSC stores supply Quickcrete products, but their supplier couldn’t keep up with demand and they had a few pallets of the Essroc brand.   When I went back to try and get more this Spring, it was a black hole, nobody knew  “nuttin”.   So I called the manufacturer, who told me they supply  Lowes stores, but after calling the three stores closest to me, they all only had Quickcrete.    So I chased the manufacturer again, and after harassing the rep’s voice mail a couple times finally got a real line on a relatively near location that had their product, the Timbr Mart in Wyoming, ON.   So on a Saturday morning  July 10, I called them just to make sure they had a good stock, which they did.   Then I planned a looping trip to pick up 20 bags of my preferred Essroc for the finish coat, and 12 bags of Quickcrete from the TSC in Strathroy, which was $2.00/bag cheaper, and quite OK for the scratch coat.    I was astounded to find that the store closed at noon on Saturday,  and figured I would just continue and now get 20 bags of TSC product.   Just to show how perverse the universe is, TSC only had 9 bags in stock, so I got a raincheck for the extra 11 bags I wanted.   About a week later they called to say new stock had come in, so on Tuesday Jul20, I took a rest day and did the loop again, this time successfully 21 bags of Essroc and 11 bags of Quickcrete.   Got home and loaded it all (2816 lbs)  onto pallets in the garage bay to keep it dry so not a real rest day 🙂

Wednesday  July 21. another good day on the stucco sprayer, completed the north wall of the garage and around the corner to where the meter panel lives.   That will be a painful bit of work to do the stucco behind the panel, but I expect that wall will be finished by Thursday night, and then it will be on to put up all the stucco mesh on the house in preparation for the scratch coat there.

July 21, north face of garage scratch coat done.

Around the corner to the meter panel.

Just a comment about working with stucco/surface bonding cement.   Because the mixture has a relatively high lime content, which is necessary for its waterproof nature,  it is quite corrosive before it cures.   I wear long sleeves and nitrile gloves followed by rubber gloves with gauntlets, safety glasses and a respiration mask.   I still end up getting some of the stuff on my wrists, mostly the right one which is the hand I use most for  cleaning the mixer blades, or any other intervention which is likely to open a gap between glove and sleeve.   Leaves a nasty “burn” especially if you don’t notice it immediately and don’t wash it off quickly.  If it is partially “cured”  on the skin I find it takes a hand scrubbing brush and soap to really get the stuff off, and then polysporin and lanolin to get it to heal quickly.   The best thing is NOT to get it on your skin.  In spite of the protection, still get some splatter in my beard and hair, which makes for some less than pleasant activity to remove it when it is partially cured.

As predicted, the scratch coat on the garage was finished on Thursday, although because that was the sunny side in the morning I didn’t start till about 3 pm, so the last mixer load was applied in near darkness after 9 pm.

Finished! The east wall of garage has its scratch coat done.

I had a flakeout day after finishing the scratch coat on the garage, and then went at the preparation for stucco screen on the house. I had learned from my experience on the garage walls that the flatter the foam base the easier it is to get good stucco penetration of the mesh and bonding to the foam. So I set about doing a more rigorous job of shaving off the lumps and bumps of the foam. Also then put up my fastening rail at the top of the wall made of of 1×3 strips of treated wood, screwed through the foam at the top to the nailing plate just under the butts of the trusses. A dirty job with the shaving, using a right angle grinder with a 4 inch diamond blade previously used for cutting concrete blocks. May seem counter-intuitive, but of all the cutting discs and wire wheels I tried this seemed to give the cleanest even shaving and less blowoff than the alternatives. Still a dust mask, safety glasses, and long sleeves sort of job.

Any way after a couple days of this sort of work I had all the wall except the screen porch prepared, and got to actually hanging the mesh. Like the garage the entire south face is covered with diamond mesh steel stucco lath between the window and door frames. By Friday July 30 early afternoon I had the whole south face and a good start around the corner on the west face with the mesh in place. Since I needed to get more lime and diamond mesh to finish the job, I made an excursion into London to resupply. Called my lime supplier Complete Building Supply because I remembered from last summer that on holiday weekends they would close at 4 PM and lucky I did because the were due to close, but waited for me get there about 4:10PM. The got my diamond mesh Home Depot, and as usual checked Costco when I was getting my propane tanks refilled. They had a really nice Moen bathroom vanity faucet at an incredibly good price and I bought one. I didn’t realize how good the price was till I checked a comparable Moen product at Home Depot then went back and got 2 more so have the faucets for all the bathroom vanities.

Saturday I worked onward on the west wall and by quitting time had the mesh done up to the northwest corner.

July 29, Stucco mesh on south wall of house complete.

July 30, around the corner a start on the west wall stucco mesh.

July 31, Stucco mesh on west complete to northwest corner.

As I was working away diligently on the stucco mesh, I was checking on my back-ordered water heater vent, and put in an order for more of the PVA fiber which use for the stucco mix which is only available in the USA. I had been waiting for months for the replacement part for my cement mixer, I had worn out the ring gear stamped into the bottom half of the mixer barrel. It had to be ordered from supplier in China so took a long time to arrive (Think “a slow boat from China” with music 🙂 ) The folks at Harbor Freight were less than completely informative about the shipping details even though I harassed them a couple times. Anyway, I also harassed the plumbing supplier, about when the back order was coming and wonder of wonders, that morning it was shipped, so I was tracking the UPS progress of the packages, which arrived at the Blue Water Ferry in Marine CIty, MI on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and about an hour after there was confirmed delivery of the second package headed off to the border in Sombra, ON. The ferry there has a package receiving service, they accept them on the US side and bring them across for $5 per package, where you pick it up and take it through customs and pay the tax and duty if there is any. When I got there and got the two packages I expected, the deck hand grumbled that I had another package that had been there almost a month. It turned out to be my cement mixer part, which I could have used much earlier, since I am using a borrowed machine in the meantime. All in all a productive trip. Got back in time to still do useful work on the stucco mesh. The end result was that by Friday night the whole house was covered with mesh and it was time to get to work on making up the stucco mix I would need for the scratch coat on the house. Pictures below of the final walls of mesh.

August 4, complete mesh on the north wall.

August 5 , entry door and wall mesh complete.

August 6, the circle is complete, the last walls in the screen porch have stucco mesh done.

After finishing the mesh installation, I set about mixing the dry stucco ingredients and with a few days work had 77 batches made up. I took a day to run into London to get some cement color pigment and settled on iron oxide, ocher to tint the final coat of stucco. I also picked up a 20 gallon air tank to hook in series with my compressor to increase the volume of air I can expel when using my stucco sprayer. On Thursday morning August 12 I was ready to go. I put in three good days, was planning on getting more brick sand from my aggregate supplier early on Saturday, but discovered they are not open all weekend, so ran out of sand by the end of the day. An enforced holiday on Sunday, to give a little time for the stucco burn on my right forearm to heal 😦 Monday morning will get a trailer load of sand and be back at it.

August 12, House stucco begun, part of south wall complete scratch coat.

South wall scratch coat complete.

Around the corner to the west bedroom window.

Scratch coat complete on the west wall.

Around the corner to the north wall.

Experiments in putting varying amounts of red oxide colour into a mixer load of the stucco. One measure (from my whey protein powder package) These panels will be covered by the final finish coat. Use this colour ratio to have a pink house 🙂

Half a measure of red oxide, not quite so pink.

One third measure. This one has the least cure time, so need another day to see what the colour will really be. This looks pretty close to what I would like the stucco to look like, just a hint of red, not the hard grey.

August 16 ,Monday morning I got my trailer load of sand, and got a good start on the north wall. Took most of Tuesday morning to make up stucco batches with the one bag of white portland I had from last fall when I was coating the interior walls of the house to get the white plaster effect. This let me make up 3 mixer loads of pure white portland, and 3 loads of 50/50 white/grey portland. One mixer of each of those groups also had 1 teaspoon of red oxide in the mix. The remainder of the pure grey portland on the rest of the scratch coat had 1 teaspoon of red oxide in the mix. The result is my wall of many colours, which as it now has been decided will be covered with the pure white portland mix for the finish coat. I had a short section that was completed on Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday finished the north wall. Took the day on Thursday to clean the screen porch area where I was mixing stucco batches, and tarped the floor to protect it from the fallout from the stucco process. Andrew from Hamilton arrived at noon to have a look at the house, especially the Wakefield Bridge shingles. He also gave me hand the rest of the clearing out the tarps in the house and sweeping up the fallout from the drywall operation. Friday was a long day, but got the last section entry door and screen porch wall scratch coat done. My poor compressor started to “fatigue” as the end was in sight. The thermal cut-off would shut it down and after a cool-down would run for a while again shorter and shorter till it just wouldn’t reset. Finally went down the street to my neighbor Ron who just finished building his strawbale house and borrowed his compressor to finish the last 4 mixers of stucco.

Below are pictures of the last stage of the scratch coat.

North wall of house scratch coat, with color test sections.

North wall with additional cure time, closer to real color of stucco.

Thursday August 19, East end of the north wall, detail of corner.

Details of the entry door.

Scratch coat complete on screen porch walls.

August 22, Longest cure time on the scratch coat of garage/workshop.

August 22, longest cure time on south wall of house scratch coat.

After finishing the scratch coat and evaluating the color samples, I made a trip into London and purchased 20 bags of white portland cement. I also called the Timbr-Mart folks and found I could return the 18 bags of Essroc portland which turned out to not be as white as I had perceived last summer when doing the SBC coats. Then I set about mixing up the dry formula for the stucco as shown below.

Stucco dry formula mixing area on the screen porch with scales and measuring cup.

The "dry" mix, cement mixer used to blend the white portland, PVA fiber, and mason's lime, which was then bagged in double plastic kitchen catcher bags.

Stockpiled mixer batches in the garage bay.

Looking out the garage door, stockpiled batches and remaining white portland for future mixing.

Saturday morning, August 27, I started putting the finish coat on the west wall of the garage/workshop working from the edge of the most southerly window to the north. That day I completed the finish coat along the north wall to the edge of the garage door.

Saturday August 27, FIrst wall on garage workshop with finish coat. Tarp hung to protect against sun to control curing speed.

Looking back behind the tarp on the west wall of workshop.

North wall also finished on Saturday, no direct sun so no tarp.

The east and south walls presented a problem because they catch direct sun throughout the morning, and on the south for a good part of the afternoon. As a consequence I delayed application till I could work in the shade. This was for my own protection as well as the stucco, since temperatures were in excess of 30C with a humidex in excess of 40C, and I had to wear long sleeves and pants, as well as a mask and safety glasses to protect myself from the stucco splatter. The net result was that work finished on the east wall at 10 pm on Sunday with a work light, and at 9 pm on Monday with the south wall which I started at about 4:30pm.

Sunday finished east wall, and tarped because of direct sun all morning.

Monday, finished south wall and tarped to protect from sun.

Northeast corner of garage/workshop with a few days of cure time.

South wall with a couple days of cure time.

North wall with 4 days of cure time.

I determined after finishing the garage/workshop using 34 mixer loads that I would need at least 60 mixer loads for the house based on the ratio I had with the scratch coat. So to be safe ran into London and got 2 more bags of white portland and another bucket of Acryl 60. The weather has be truly evil with the high temp and humidity, so I took a day on Wednesday Sept 1 to go to Port Huron, MI to shop for doors and windows. I came back with good bargains on a patio door for the house to screen porch boundary and a door for the living room to patio/deck exit. Am awaiting price quotes on custom windows, but not optimistic, preliminary calcs seemed indicate they are cheaper only with stock items in standard sizes which they purchase in large lots. For example Lowes had 32 and 36 inch door of interest but could have used a 34 inch door which would be special ordered. Special order for the same spec door almost doubled the price. The curious thing is that the two doors I purchased are actually manufactured in Canada, but I can get them much cheaper even with the currency exchange than I can at my local building supply.

Patio door from my excursion to Port Huron.

Living room door to patio/deck next to its opening.

West side of garage/workshop with 1 week of cure.

North side of garage/workshop stucco with 1 week of cure.

East side of garage/workshop one week of cure in the morning sunshine.

The day after my return from Port Huron, I spent the next 2 days preparing the walls on the west and south sides of the house for stucco, using a diamond wheel in my right angle grinder. This was to trim down and excessively large sharp trowel marks i the scratch coat and to clean up around the window frames so the finish coat will make clean match to the frames. On Sunday stuccoed the West wall, used my corn broom to texture the surface and blend the edges between mixer batches. On Monday, Labor Day, I finished the South wall, and on Tuesday took a “slack” day to prepare walls and window frames on the north and east walls. This was also to protect myself from the heat as the temp was again over 30C. On Wednesday things had cooled down and I finished the walls in the screen porch around the corner to the top north side of the entry door.

On Thursday worked on the long north wall with help from my neighbor Ron of the strawbale house. I mixed and sprayed stucco, and troweled the top third of each section on the ladder. He troweled the bottom 2/3 and “broomed” it all. We started at about 9AM and worked continuously to finish the wall by 3:15PM. Cleaned up the tools and went to our respective homes eat and recover.

Sept 7, West side of house finish coat of stucco with 2 days of cure.

Labor Day labors, south side of house finished, behind the tarp to control cure rate.

September 8, completed finish coat on screen porch walls.

September 9, the circle is complete with finish coat on the north wall.

Corner by the entry door, where the last section made contact with the rest of the finish coat.

September 21, South face of the house with more cure time.

Southwest corner of the house with more cure time.

North side of the house with more cure time, getting whiter and more uniform.

New entry door to the workshop from the breezeway. The old one is now between the garage and workshop.

French doors to the screen porch from the outside.

Garage door installed. Plywood mask still in place because more stucco is likely here.

French doors to screen porch from inside.

Great room door to patio installed.

Natural gas manifold installed and pressure checked for stove, water heater, and dryer.

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7 Responses to “Stucco, stucco stucco, playing in the mud on the outer walls.”

  1. Nolan Scheid Says:

    Hello Ted,
    Your home progress looks great!
    Please keep the pictures and updates coming. Sharing stories like yours helps others to see that they might also be able to build a home.
    I have been posting articles on spraying stucco and many other details:
    http://www.mortarsprayer.com/stucco/
    If we can help with anything,Please don’t hesitate to ask.

    Best regards,
    Nolan Scheid

  2. Boyd Says:

    I found and have been following your blog for about two months. It is a great inspiration to me as I want to build in 5 years. I have been following a few other dry stack home blogs, alternative construction methods as well as reading what I can find at the library and online.

    Do you welcome visitors at your home? I live 45 minutes away, Chatham Kent area, and would like to make the drive.

    Drop me an email and let me know.
    Thanks
    Boyd

  3. MarkCV Says:

    I love the way you write! 😀

    Burn Notice Schedule

  4. Orange County Stucco Says:

    you got some skills! looks good

  5. Warren Says:

    Been awhile since I had a chance to look at your house. Looks good. Hope you get to live in it soon. Got together with some of the class of 58 last Saturday for lunch at Jon Weberg’s on Lake Madison. Jon, Ivan, George A. Sharon, Char, Marlene Jane and myself. We really enjoyed the day.
    Keep up the good work

    Warren

  6. Wardsville Bicentennial Says:

    Looks Good, Ted . Hard work. Great rewards. Glad you manage to keep up the blog.

  7. Steven Perez Says:

    Ted,
    Please where can I buy a hopper like the one you have.
    I am also going to start dry stacking my walls soon and I would like to get a hopper like the one you have.
    Thanks,
    Steve

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