You may recall that when I summarised all of the projects we had completed in 2018 in the last blog of the year, I mentioned that many of my missives began by saying that we hadn’t had a very productive week. I am pleased to say that 2019 has started in the opposite vein and we have made good progress.
Last week’s blog ended by saying that I hoped to start cladding the man shed if the weather remained dry. It did (mostly) and I have!
However, before I began the cladding and as the temperatures have been unseasonably warm, I thought that it would be a good idea to render the block work to match Grange next door. Getting the rendering done now meant that I would be able to clad over the rendered blockwork rather than having to render under the wood after I attach it to the frame.
When we had all of the rendering done early in 2017 (all of the Grange and the dwarf walls behind Priory) I was very happy to leave it all to our friendly builder, Lee, while I was content with mixing the mortar and doing the smoothing off later in the day as it dried.
Lee was very quick at applying the mortar to the walls and getting a pretty smooth surface as he did it. He was particular about the consistency of the mortar I mixed and really didn’t like it if was at all gritty. I have never rendered before and always equated it to plastering, albeit outdoors, a skill I had always understood was a real skill that takes years to perfect so I was happy to leave it to others.
Now, having rendered this relatively small building, I can say with confidence that I don’t mind if I never do it again!* It was the first new job I have undertaken since living at Kergudon that I really didn’t enjoy. I completely understood why Lee was so specific about the consistency of the mortar – too wet and it just flops off the wall, too dry and it doesn’t stick easily and takes so much force to apply it to the wall. The problem being that mixing it is a skill in itself. I always started with a drier mix, on the understanding that it is easier to add more water than take it out, but there seemed to be the tiniest amount of water required between the point it goes from being far too dry to way too sloppy!
I also understand why Lee didn’t like a gritty mix as any small lump in the mix led to a large hollow in the render on the wall. Unfortunately, the lime I used I had opened in November when I was mixing mortar for the blockwork and, no matter what I do, I have found it almost impossible to keep an open bag of lime completely dry so it doesn’t form small lumps. That, and a particularly gritty sort of sand, led to lots of bits in my mortar mix that added to the challenge of rendering.
Eventually however, I managed to get a mix that worked and a technique that, while may not be textbook and wouldn’t allow me entry to the Guild of Master Renderers, was at least effective. The way I did it was pretty much rather than apply the mortar to the wall from a hawk, I just dumped it on the ground next to the wall and used my float to push it up.
Being so slow on the first day, with the days being shorter, I wasn’t able to revisit as the mortar dried and sooth it off perfectly as we had for Grange. As such it looks a little more ‘rustic’ in places than Lee’s work but, as my first, and would be happily last, attempt, I am pretty happy. By the end of my second day, when the entire shed was done, I was at least confident that I could do it again in the pond that we will eventually build to give a smooth(ish) surface that I can then paint (and will then be then hidden underwater!)
Rendering done, I could then start the cladding which, after the many square metres of Grange, I am much more familiar with. I have managed to complete 2 of the 3 sides, where there is less cutting required.
The west side (the back where I have moved the wall away from the boundary talus) is now completely watertight as, the keen-eyed will be able to see on a previous picture, I have also installed the windows we bought via Facebook Marketplace.
The windows do need a bit of TLC and a new coat of paint but they were a much better bargain that what we spent most of today collecting – more of that in a future blog but let’s say that today hasn’t been the best use of time!
The coming week should see a lot more progress on the shed and, maybe, get it to a point of completion so I can start emptying the garages and actually using it …