Getting Smarter While Getting the Shaft

That shaft,  is how it has been for those situated in the middle for more than the past thirty years, and it’s well known by the ones keeping track of the numbers and well felt by the rest, all to willing to deny it despite that uneasy certainty of having  been getting screwed. At the same time look at what was going on thirty years back and even more years than that with building , much brown in kitchens and bathrooms, carpet was reaching great heights of popularity in every room of the house, paints and wood finishes going all vinyl, (a description of the house I grew up living in). Even further back then, a hundred years or more and there was the similar adaptation of cement as an ill-conceived fix-it-al. Somewhere in between we had asbestos.

A misguided plaster job of portland cement
A misguided plaster job of portland cement


Paying attention, or what the Buddhists might say right thinking, will help you get ahead and avoid buying into fables told, like the one the professional will have about how to build a masonry wall. The clues of past mistakes are all around and that Buddhist mind will get you on the right path.

It was hard work chipping off all that portland cement plaster, though it wasn’t me who did it.

Even worse was the job the cement did on the 300 year old brick, brick that were baked half a mile down the road from clay dug somewhere around here. Really the first choice would have been to expose the brick and nothing more if it weren’t that the surfaces all came off with the plaster. It’s common to reuse old brick in this place caller, Europe, you just have to look at the brickwork I myself just did. Old brick that had been laid up with lime mortar which  comes off when re-building. When that was done with portland cement you can use it as road-fill and nothing more, the bricks are destroyed.

Then we can move on to the damage done to the inside of this wall from the portland cement. While it allows water in, because it is non-flexible and will inevitably crack, that water will get back out, but on the other side which is the inside. In other words the water comes into the house. Enough of this cement story, use it if you want, for me it’s history.

The wall is done now right, the way it should have been done back when it wasn’t. The lime plaster, even though what’s available now is a poor substitute for the old-time lime, is flexible and more important breathable, the wall at times will get wet but because it’s porous through and through the moisture will be wicked off outward by the wind more quickly than it can migrate through to the inside.

Plaster, a professional job.

I had very little hand in getting the bricked part looking this way ,wow I can hardly recognise it as my own house any more. Is that what I wanted? But after the stuccadors packed up and left I did finalise the process. While still wet two lime wash layers are added. First thin second thick ok and then the wall can rest through the winter or till a more convenient time to get the color on there.


Should we categories this one under, Good Materials?





  1. or god’s materials with that so catholic cross you put on the last picture, the shadow looks like you’re crucifying someone over there. The guy who invented cement maybe. Looks beautiful, really professional job, congrats.

  2. Great looking wall,after the intensive spalling caused by the concrete coating I wondered if the brick could be saved but after your hard work and the professional top coat it looks as it has never had a problem.

  3. I like to think it looks “good” – such subjectivity – despite the professional job. It took a thorough explanation and plenty of coaching to get it that way. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in perfection and that the plaster I wanted was only lime/sand, otherwise they always put something (pc) extra in it for the guarantee. I anticipate some places where it might soon fail and begin to look a bit less pristine. Then it will begin to start looking good.

  4. Talking with an engineer the other day, I learned something. Modern concrete will crack, self-destructively, due to the overuse of fly ash in cement formulation. Alkaline-silica reaction (ASR) practically insures that Portland cement will fail.

  5. What a transformation from the portland cement! Glad that you were able to find stuccadors with the skill to take care of the body of the plaster.

  6. I don’t want to come across as unappreciative of the stuccadors. Their work was amazing I can say now that I’m busy having a go at it as well. There aren’t many around who know that material and they were good to work with having especially the same ideas as me.

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