Friday 12 October 2012

Our Rough Rubble Wall

In our livingroom we have an exposed stone wall. Like something that you might find in a beautifully restored castle hotel, those lovely big stones that I could clean up and repoint....

Not a bit of it... 
... this is what our stone wall looks like...

Our Stone Wall; on the left we had started painting/plastering it,
 the section on the right shows the original condition.

When we redesigned our house we tried to incorporate things like existing doorways and original features as best we could, however the 250 years worth of previous owners had not been so thoughtful. We didn't discover this mess until the mishmash of plasterboard, hardboard and MDF had been removed.

The walls are structurally sound, they are original 2ft thick and built of rubble and clay/mud. Sections had been patched with brick around 130 years ago and some more patched in around 35 years ago.

Most of the walls in the house are external and, to insulate well, we covered them with a wooden frame and plasterboard...  this wall is entirely internal and we decided to retain some character of the house by keeping this stone wall. We had a feeling that, if we covered all the walls in plasterboard we may as well be living in a new house. Which would be much simpler and less costly... ho hum...

Now, a wall which is in this state cannot be cleaned up, it cannot be sandblasted or repointed  it was never going to be exposed stone, but we still wanted that stone look and feel. It can't be painted... and we didn't want to re-plaster it so we had to find an in-between solution.

As you can see in the above picture we treated about half of the wall first so we could live with the look for a while.

Here is what I did. (I work a small section at a time)

  • Spray the wall with water
  • Brush down the wall with a brush (the type that comes in a dustpan and brush set) to get off as much dust as possible.
  • There is a lime based product called - Lime Putty Plaster Setting Stuff. It is the topcoat that goes on newly lime plastered walls. 
  • We watered this putty down until it was the consistency of thick paint, and we pretty much painted it on.
  • Anywhere that the gaps in between the stones were large enough to require more attention I used a filling knife  and filled the gaps with a lime plaster. Not strictly repointing, but I guess it serves a similar purpose.
  • It is hard going and the 'paint' needs to be worked a bit, much like plaster does. I found it easiest to start at the top of the wall and work my way down.
  • The wall took two coats of the lime putty paint, the second coat was quick and easy to apply.

The finished wall* has the look we wanted, though the surface has a rough, grainy texture and we will probably finish it off with lime paint in the future. It could be finished in regular emulsion, but we have come this far with lime, it seems a shame to stop now.

The Nitty Gritty

  • Lime Putty Plaster Setting Stuff - bought from Mason's Mortar in Fife (with depots in Glasgow and Edinburgh)
  • I used a 4 inch brush to work the paint in. The brush gets heavy during use, as it gets loaded up with plastery paint... but anything smaller would have taken an age to get any of the wall finished.
  • The lamp in the pictures is our only light source in the livingroom, it has a Habitat pink silk lampshade on it, when the livingroom is finished it will look really nice. 
  • FACTOID: Limework has a fascinating quality, old limework reabsorbs water and clings to the other lime around it, basically it becomes workable again and is recycled on the spot. This makes working on an old wall like this easier than trying to use cement based plaster, which is less forgiving.

*we haven't actually finished the whole wall yet, it is one of those jobs that has a bit of stop and go about it... like most other things in our house :)

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