Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some more mobile home skirting efforts

Sliding door for access to crawlspace. Mostly recycled and re-purposed materials -- plywood from the mobile home we disassembled quite a while back, wheels & hardware from a piece of pull-behind lawn equipment, some new and some re-used wood...three 2x4s, two 1x4s, two 1x2s.  

Back of the sliding door showing wheels in track.

Latex cement screen panel will cover other side of the sliding door assembly.

I was adding skirting to our deck/porch and wanted to try a large latex cement panel that would cover an entire 8 ft. section, which worked out okay. Coffee cans are in place to make two vents.

Second or third coat of latex paint/sand & cement mixture.

Another access door. This one for under the deck, where Julio lives.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Latex Cement Mobile Home Skirting Using Re-purposed Window Screens

Finished section of latex cement skirting made from "recycled" window screens.

Just a couple notes about this process. It's important to place the frames so that the screen lays flat on the plastic (i.e. the front of the frame facing up, spline down, and then to leave them in place while the mix dries/cures. I leave mine in place for all three initial coats. They are still slightly flexible when I take them from the plastic and I handle with care. After the final coat cures, they'll be very sturdy.
For the initial coat, I put approximately 32 ounces of water and the same amount of paint in a bucket. I use an electric drill with a paint-mixing paddle attached, and add Portland cement from a two pound coffee can. It usually takes the whole can to mix to the approximate consistency of pancake batter for the initial coat.

I dry-mix three parts sand with one part Portland cement, using a 2 pound coffee can for measure. I tumble it in my cement mixer, then scoop it into the coffee can and mix in my bucket using the drill into a one to one solution of paint and water to a consistency I like -- thinner for the second and third coats, thicker for the final coat, which is the one I spread with a spatula (I used a discarded CD) after the panels are in place & attached to the home (to give it a finished look and cover where the frames meet.) This seems to work well for me. I hope it will for you, too.

Making latex cement panels for skirting out of window screens is  far easier and than attaching the nylon screen to studs and then painting on the latex cement as in my previous posts.
Which I was doing again, this time on the backside of my manufactured home. I was using 2"x2" treated step barristers instead of PVC pipe, dipping the end that will be buried in asphalt emulsion, and stapling the nylon screen on, which was easier than attaching the screen to plastic with screws but not as easy as making and using the window screen panels. I'll show photos of both processes. I'd had PVC pipe on hand when I did the front end of my home, but didn't have any this time. The barristers were $1 each for a 42" stick, less expensive than the 3/4" PVC I'd used before would have been and, as I said, stapling the screen on was easier.
I was putting a stud every foot and a half or so, and had set a good twenty feet of them when I decided to change tactic and try my latex cement panel idea.
These screens were $1 apiece at the Habitat for Humanity Re-store.
This process simply involves loosening the fly screen at one end, cutting the screen frames down to a size that will tuck up under the little vinyl lip at the bottom edge of the home and stick a few inches into the ground, re-attaching the screen, and painting on the latex cement in the same manner as before.
That's one coat of 1 part water, 1 part latex paint, & Portland cement added to make a paste, followed by several coats of 3 parts sand & 1 part Portland cement, mixed with 1 to 1 latex paint and water.
I paint on three coats prior to attaching the panels, then make my mix a bit thicker and trowel it on using an old CD once the panels are in place. It is much easier to apply these initial coats to framed screens laying flat on plastic sheets than on the vertical surface of a screen attached to wooden or plastic studs. Also there is none  of the stretching and sagging with the weight of the mix.
The panels are trenched in about five inches and attached with screws at the top.
Vents have been an issue for me when making latex cement skirting. Typical foundation vents have to be retrofitted. Vent eaves would more easily work but just look bad. During my first foray in using latex cement for underpinning, the (unexpected) way the screen sagged with the weight of the mix made attaching the vents I planned to use difficult. On the second go round I tried making vents, first out of papercrete and then out of plywood. Neither has worked well, though the plywood ones are still attached and look okay. Using the wooden barristers made it easier to attach a regular old foundation vent, though not without some cutting and innovation. By making panels this way the vent problem is somewhat solved. Placing an object -- perhaps a block or, in this case, a coffee can -- where you want the vent and painting around it. That gives you a nylon screen vent. I attached a piece of hardware cloth behind it.
I like the look.
Cut the window screen to fit.

Screens ready to paint with latex cement. Coffee cans in place to make vents.

Three coats.

Placing the panels.

Step barrister studs cut to tuck under lip.

Studs dipped in asphalt emulsion & placed with opening to attach vent.

Screen attached with staples.

Three coats, vent attached, ready for final coat.

The vinyl crap I'm replacing.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Burlap-crete wall 5

Finished section of burlap-crete wall. As I progressed I ditched the grout and, after soaking the raw burlap in concrete bonding agent overnight, simply saturated it in the same 3:1 mix of sand and Portland cement I was spraying. I'd drape three pieces at a time--a 12 ft section. The pieces were about  8 1/2 ft. long and simply layed over the wire fence and tied with wire here and there. I sprayed three or four layers of mortar over a couple days of work, and I added exterior paint to the mix on the final spray. With a little reworking here and there, the little home-made sprayer worked well for the whole project. I capped along the top with mortar. The wall feels solid enough, and we like the "draped" look of it. We'll see how it holds up before progressing any farther.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Burlap-crete Fence 4, refurbished glider/swing

Typically, I don't have a before photo of this old glider, which I converted into a swing. Starlings have already made their marks on my new paint job.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Burlap-crete Fence 3

I staggered the fence line to make it more interesting and added a little house paint to the last layer of mortar. I like the subdued color. I'm no longer using grout, but soaking the burlap in bonding agent, then saturating it the same mortar mix I'm spraying. I'm spraying three to four coats of three parts sand, one part Portland cement. The wall  feels pretty substantial, though I've not taken a hammer to it, and probably won't.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homemade Mortar Sprayer Update

My homemade mortar sprayer has been working well for my experiments with burlap-crete.(  However, when I tried to replace the air gun with one (I thought was) just like it, I found that the threads of the coupler inside the PVC fitting were too short to engage those on the air gun. Though both were purchased at Harbor Freight, the air guns were slightly different. Which means not every air gun will work in this system without some additional retrofitting. I had to grind away some of the thickness of the PVC with a Dremel tool, and also cut the little curled ring off the new air gun to make it work. Also, I’d used a Clorox bottle at first because I happened to have one. A gallon Concrete Bonding Agent jug is sturdier and is a tighter fit.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Burlap-crete Fence Experiment 2

Finished section of burlap-crete fence after touching up with mortar (where I hadn't taken tall fence posts into account and cut the burlap short, and where overlaps of burlap were showing). This is after several coats of sprayed-on mortar. 

Burlap soaking in bonding agent. Weather held me up, so it soaked several days.

Burlap saturated with grout. I don't know if grout is necessary. I'm going to try a section using the same Portland cement mortar mix I've been spraying with.

Draped over existing fence. It's wired to the fence here and there, but is basically just hanging on it.

Using Clorox bottle mortar sprayer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Burlap-crete fence experiment 1

These three photos are of my experiment with making a section of burlap-crete wall. I soaked raw burlap in bonding agent, saturated it with grout, draped it over wire, and sprayed it with several coats of mortar made from one part Portland cement to three parts sand using my Clorox bottle sprayer ( The armature for this section includes some hardware cloth, wire fencing, and other scraps I had laying about, but the plan for the rest of the wall is to simply drape the burlap over my existing wire fence. After curing a couple of days this burlap-crete seemed thin and fragile, but two days of days of rain did it good, and I'm pleased with how sturdy it is. I'll still be spraying more layers of mortar. I'm adding a little lime to the mortar mix as I move down the line, thinking it will allow for more flexibility. I searched for a local source of the magnesium-based cement I read about on a green building site ( no luck. If anyone knows of a possible source in the midlands of South Carolina, let me know.

Burlap saturated with grout, draped over wire armature.

Burlap after spraying mortar.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Tatched Roof 3

I finished coating the roof. The final mixture was one part cement to two parts of aggregate, plus asphalt emulsion. So each batch included four parts sand, two of cellulose insulation, three of cement. It was easiest, after the dry ingredients tumbled awhile in the mixer, to rake some into a large plastic bowl, add water, and mix by hand (rather than in a bucket with the drill), then add the asphalt emulsion. I would just scoop some asphalt emulsion -- maybe two handfuls --out of the bucket into the bowl of damp mix and knead it until it was evenly distributed. I daubed the stuff on. Thin coats work best. It was pleasant to work with. I used a broken CD as a tool to created the thatched look. The crete lightens as it cures.

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Thatched" Roof 2 & Staining Faux Bois Planters

Continuing work on the "thatched" roof using an asphalt emulsion mix.

Experimenting with staining a couple of efforts at faux bois planters. I've thus far experimented with a commercial dye called Smith's Color Floor, a manganese carbonate/potassium dichromate mixture (I didn't enjoy using this so much because of potential toxicity), and iron and zinc oxide.
No need to include muriatic acid in a mix of water and iron or zinc oxide. The oxide stains the concrete without acid. I'm unhappy with the finished product but feel like it's a start. Next plan is to make some "patties" from my mortar mix as described by the great Donald Tucker so that I can practice mixing the various colors of oxide, etc. A great starting point for infomation related to using oxides and other fairly inexpensive substances to stain concrete is here: I purchased my chemicals from various sellers on Ebay.
The small pot is made over a burlap/grout armature.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Burlap Cement & Asphalt Emulsion Experiments

This so-called gazebo structure is an amalgam of papercrete recipes. In that way it taught me a good bit about papercrete -- the recipes improved over the weeks of layering. But some of the areas first covered are soft, and rain was actually eroding them. I wanted to extend the umbrella roof, creating an eave for aesthetics but also to help keep the rain off those soft sections until I can invest the time to save or re-do them.

The roof is made from a picnic table umbrella coated with a latex paint/cement/sand mixture. It seems to be holding up, but I didn’t see how to attach lathe or hardware cloth as an armature for an eave.

I wound up using raw burlap soaked in bonding agent, then saturated with crack resistant grout. I was inspired to try this approach by this great website ( I could not find the rapid set grout this author writes about, and settled for Quickrete Professional Crack Resistant Grout purchased at Lowes.

Doing a section the width of the burlap  at a time, I just lay a double layer of the grout-saturated cloth in place at roof's edge and used a board to prop the overhang up until it cured. I wrapped the board in cellophane sandwich wrap to help keep the grout from adhering to it. After I saturated the burlap with grout and positioned it, I added more layers of grout, then let it cure several days before removing the board. I wouldn't try to do pull-ups from it, but it seems very sturdy.

I've begun layering the entire roof with a papercrete mixture including asphalt emulsion (2 parts sand, 2 parts cellulose, 1 part portland cement, a nice gob of asphalt emulsion. I let the dry mix tumble in the mixer for awhile, put a little in a bucket, added water, drill mixing until crumbly, then mixed in the asphalt emulsion by hand).

I'd used this mix layering a section of the gazebo (the issue at that time was getting papercrete to stick to the armature, and I really like the finished product. I'm interested to see how this mix holds up to the South Carolina humidity, sun, and heat. I'm trying to create a sort of layered, thatched look on the roof.