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October 16, 2013
Stucco: Lath

Scott Greer removes trimwood from the exterior of our mountain home

We are going to have our mountain home stuccoed. All of the wood finish, the trim, the stain, the paint… it will all be covered in stucco. We hope this will be a permanent solution to our ongoing invasions by mice and woodpeckers. We have hired Greer Stucco, a local company, to do the work. Scott Greer estimates that the entire job will take about nine weeks. The individual steps are:

  1. Lath
  2. Scratch coat
  3. Brown coat
  4. Final coat

In between each step, the house needs to sit for several days for the work to settle or “cure.” That – plus the fact that Greer has several different jobs scheduled simultaneously – is why the project will take so long. Gail plans to be up on site at the house for as much of the work as possible. Russell’s work schedule doesn’t permit this, so we will not be seeing each other much over the next couple of months.

Gail drove up on Sunday afternoon, October 6, for a week’s stay. She cleaned up inside and outside in preparation for the workers’ arrival on Monday. She also cleaned up after the mice, who still seem to be coming in and out of the house. From the noises and droppings, she thinks there is a nest under (or in) the upstairs sofa.

As part of the stucco prep work, Gail raised the shutter in front of the broken window pane. She covered the glass with contact paper to keep it held together. She is currently investigating the cost to replace it.

The workers arrived bright and early Monday morning a little after 7:30 am. In addition to Scott (and his dog Nelly), the crew includes Scott’s son Wesley, Randy, Cole and Chad. The men are young and very professional. They work fast and obviously know their stuff. They take regular breaks together, and Gail is amused to see them set up their chairs at various different vista points to take in the view.

The first step in the stucco process is “lath.” This is named for the old process, where long laths or slats of thin wood were put up all over the walls to give the stucco something to anchor to. Nowadays chicken wire normally replaces the wooden slats, but the process is still referred to as “lath.”

K-LATH combines the vapor barrier and chicken wire in a single roll

The first thing the crew did was surround the house with scaffolding. This was followed by several days of ripping the wooden trim off of all the exterior walls. Gail would listen in amusement at the constant cries of “You’ve got to be kidding!” followed by dozens of acorns being pulled from the wall gaps.

Scaffolding has been erected all around the house.

Removing the trimwood released lots and lots of acorns

Once the walls were made bare, the crew put up the chicken-wire lath. The stuff comes in very convenient packages that combine the vapor barrier with the chicken wire in rolls. The crews also re-set two of our exterior sliding-glass doors to make them more plumb.

The crew lathed neatly behind the water tank and around the electrical box

All external electrical boxes, switches and vents have to be re-set so they will protude out past the eventual stucco

The lath extendes all the way to the edges of the windows and shutters, thanks to L-shaped metal flashing

A soffet on the underside of the second-story cantilever. Scott had only intended to lath the soffet above the front door. However, the crew went ahead and lathed all five soffets, so Scott is giving us this extra work for no charge!

Overall, Gail’s week was a noisy, continuous din of hammer pounding and crowbar prying. With our all-glass octagon house, she felt as if she was in a fish bowl, with men and scaffolding on all sides. The crew stopped work at 4:00 every day, after which Gail would walk around and pick up all of the various screws, nails and bits of metal that might cause a flat tire.

The crew at work. Gail felt as if she was in a glass fishbowl.

Gail’s nights were not much quieter. With the mice now trapped in the house, she would hear them dragging acorns around all night and trying to find exits. While sitting in bed reading, she actually saw a pair of them jump vertically 12 inches over a barrier she had put up. Needless to say, she did not get much sleep.

After a week of this, Gail drove back home on Saturday, October 12. The crew had one more day of lath work that they scheduled for the following Monday, but they would finish that without Gail’s presence.

Instead, Gail took a small break at home before drivng back up four days later, for another week of watching this amazing transformation of our mountain home.

Our mountain home, before and after lath


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