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October 19, 2013
Stucco: Scratch coat


Gail and Scott Greer discuss the challenges of stuccoing an octagonal house

On Wednesday, October 16, just four days after she left our mountain home, Gail drove back up for the next phase of our stucco project. This time, Russell came up with her. He would need to do his normal work remotely again, but Gail wanted him to see the amazing process of stuccoing the house.

Before we even got to the house, we stumbled onto a great event in the nearby town of Mokelumne Hill. Several months ago, we happened to be here when they were filming an episode of the television series “Hotel Impossible” with Anthony Melchiorri at the Leger Hotel. We didn’t participate, and came to regret it. This week, because we were here on a rare Wednesday, Gail wanted to check out the weekly “Spaghetti Western” dinner at the hotel restaurant. Lo and behold, they were filming a follow-up episode of “Hotel Impossible”! We put in a last-minute dinner reservation and ended up having a terrific time. Maybe you’ll see one of us on television when the episode airs in January.


The Hotel (and restaurant) Leger in Mokelumne Hill

Once we got to the house, the first thing we did was check on the mice. Gail had personally seen two of them during her last visit. Before departing, she had sprinkled talcum powder in various doorways to determine their access routes. Sure enough, there were tracks all over. We found one deceased mouse in a water trap. That would mean there was still one more mouse at large, but we never heard or saw it during the remainder of our trip. As Russell went to dispose of the dead mouse, we hoped it would be the last one we would ever have.

    
Mouse tracks in the doorway to Joss’ bedroom

    
Mouse tracks between the hallway and the sitting room

The stucco work crew showed up as usual on Thursday morning a little after 7:30 am. They would work for two days on the first actual coat of stucco, the “scratch coat.”

It was fascinating to watch them work. With a pile of sand and a mixer, they made up bunches of pasty, cement stuff. Starting at the top of each wall, they teamed and worked their way downward with amazing speed and efficiency. They took breaks together like clockwork, and they finished both days at about 4:00 pm. By Friday afternoon, the scratch coat was done.


We currently have a huge pile of sand (and a mixer) on our property

    
The crew work their way down the northwest walls

    
Some details of the scratch coat

    
Before and after: one of the cantilevered soffets


On the inside, we’re back to having our house wrapped in plastic again!

Compared with the noisy din from the previous week, our environment was quiet and peaceful. Russell did his day job. Gail made further progress on drywalling the interior walls. She also volunteered for the thankless task of watering down the scratch coat several times after the crew had departed. Apparently, the stucco needs to be watered constantly in order to cure properly. Gail managed to get herself soaking wet and freezing cold every time; fortunately we have a nice hot bath tub.


Gail continued to mud the unfinished drywall…

    
… which was easy compared to dragging an industrial hose around on high scaffolding and watering down the entire house, which left her soaking wet several times

We are thrilled and impressed with how good the house looks stuccoed. The crew continues to do a terrific job. We departed on Saturday, October 19. In three days, Gail will turn around and drive back up for the next phase.

    
Our mountain home, before and after scratch coat

 

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