Saturday, November 26, 2011

Plaster Preparation

The kitchen looks more and more finished as each day comes to a close. Mike installed the butcher block countertop below the mini-bay window yesterday, and we have the countertops and backsplash covered with concrete backerboard and ready for tile. The orange chair sits where the gas oven will eventually go.

There is a new shelving element built into the arch entranceway into the kitchen. Right now, the shelves are standard plywood and there is a base coat of plaster on the walls of the cubbies. It will be finished with red oak shelves and lime plaster cubby walls.

It is getting to be time to apply finish plasters to the interior of the building, so today we experimented with a whole bunch of different plaster tests, using clay, lime, sand, straw, and wheat paste. We are interested in several different plaster qualities: ease of application, durability, scratch-resistantance, dusting (avoiding dusting), beauty, and low-cost (all of them are pretty darn cheap, but clay is free, and wheat paste and straw are both very inexpensive). Here are some of the tests:

Here is the setup for making wheat paste:

The white flour is dissolved in cold water, while the rest of the water boils on the stove. Once a rolling boil is achieved, the flour/water mix is added slowly into the pot, while being mixed with the paddle mixer on the drill. The mixture begins to thicken until it turns almost translucent, which is when it can be removed from the heat; it's ready to use once cool. It takes just a tiny bit of wheat paste to make a plaster more sticky and increase durability. A recipe for wheat paste.

It's a good ideas to spray down the dry walls with water before applying a new plaster. Otherwise, the base coat of plaster will suck all of the moisture out of the finish layer, and the finish layer will have a much greater chance of cracking. I just recently bought one of these "chemical sprayers" from Home Depot for under $10 - it's operated by hand pump, and sprays a perfect mist (a lot easier than a spray bottle, and simpler than trying to snake a hose into the building). Mike demonstrates its use:

I took care of Leo for a while today, giving Danielle a chance to jump on some plastering and make up some of her own mixes. 

Leo is becoming quite a proficient sitter and stander (with help). He's gotten noticeably stronger over the past week, and he seems to really like these new positions! He spent the day outdoors on the worksite with Mike, Danielle, and I.


  1. Kitchen countertops chip and break. Also grout lines tend to look bad after a while unless you plan on cleaning it really good every day.You can't just wipe the counters down you have to scrub the grout lines with a brush often to keep it looking good.

  2. "Suzie Thomas:" I've already decided on tile. We're using a darker-colored, epoxy grout which will not stain.