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.