Preparing for the overhaul...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stucco and Brick Cladding Tips

It seems so simple: just glue it on.  But, if you're anything like me, you've had at least one rage blackout while trying to clad a building.  How can something so "easy" possibly be so hard?  As I take a break from gluing on bricks, I'm going to share some tips I've picked up over the years.  Hopefully you can avoid some of my mistakes!

The hardest part about stuccoing a half timbered house is the little crevices.  It's hard to get the stucco in there without getting it everywhere!  What I did here, and what, generally, I think works very well is a two step process: stucco, then water.  I used a very fine brush to push stucco into the crevice, trying to keep everything as neat as possible.  Then, I took a very fine angled brush, loaded with clean water, and used it to "clean" the section around the crevice.  I'd swipe the area, leaving a slight film of left-over stucco, swirl my brush in the clean water, and swipe it again.  It's a little time consuming, but this process gets the beams clean and creates a very clean look.

Here, I'm cleaning the area.  Be prepared for this process to take hours.  I did all the little triangles first, because they're the most unpleasant.  I left the larger areas for later, since they a) use up more stucco, and b) are fun.  

I also highly recommend purchasing all the stucco powder and paint you need before you begin.  I actually ran out of stucco powder after completing a little more than one side, which is--in this case--OK, since more stucco powder is reasonably easily available.  However, powder formulations do change, and, often, so do batches of paint.  I bought a new bottle of "antique white" paint just for this project, and it's actually slightly darker than the last bottle I bought.

Use a spacer.  These are strips of 1/32" thick wood.  Make sure, though, that your rows remain parallel by periodically measuring both sides.  Don't eyeball it, and don't rely on the spacers to keep everything horizontal!  Once in awhile, rows will become slightly uneven, start listing to the left, etc.  The more often you spot check, the easier these problems are to identify and correct.

If you need 1/2 bricks, I recommend making yourself a little supply before you begin.  Generally, what I do is dry fit a row to see how everything will fit.  Here, I got lucky: my rows aligned perfectly.  My "1/2 bricks" are actually half bricks.  I've done projects before, though, where I had to fuzz things a bit, by using 1/3 bricks, and shortening the bricks immediately around them so everything appeared to line up.

I'm excited for sealing and grouting!

Notice, I'm NOT cladding the other side of the door.  That's because I'm going to wait until I've done the entire left side, and the first full-length row over the door.  Then, I'll clad the right-hand side of the door from top to bottom.  That way, all the bricks will line up.  Stay tuned, I'll post more pictures so you'll understand what I'm talking about.

And, best of all, soon I'll be ready to add the fountain!


Garden of Miniatures said...

Your work is really amazing,the house is getting better and better ! Jeannette

CJ said...

Jeannette, thank you! I appreciate the compliment :-) I'm rather excited for the next phase of this house, I have to say. It'll be fun to finish the windows and the roof...and then there's always furniture!

Christin said...

This house is just lovely! How do you make your bricks? Are they from a paper product or clay?