More Exterior Garage Plaster

One wall a year. That was the original time frame for completing the exterior finish of our garage. Time went by. We missed a year. Now, two years after the east-facing wall, we’ve completed the south-facing one. I have to say, I love it!

Scott and I began in the same fashion as wall number one: remove the old Tyvec, repair any broken lath, and apply two coats of earthen plaster. We had to work fast because a storm was in the forecast, so we had exactly one week to plaster away. Sure enough, the rain began in earnest the day after we finished. Luckily, we also had a new tarp in place to prevent our work from washing away in the deluge.

For the record, nobody in Torrey complained about the rain, which, across three days, totaled almost two inches. That’s because the last measurable precipitation was close to one year ago in October of 2017. In fact, two inches was close to the precipitation total for all of 2017. Scott and I stood on the porch, inhaled deeply, and reacquainted ourselves with rain.

Last week, with the promise of a few dry days, we went to work on the wall decoration. Our goal? To continue our original theme – flora and fauna found around our house. This time it meant flowers and hummingbirds.


Using a 24-ounce yogurt container as a unit of measure, Scott added kaolin clay, silica sand, Type S lime, and yellow ochre pigment to a large mixing tub purchased from Home Depot. The proportions were 3:4:1:3/4.


Next he mixed in 1/2 cup of rice starch and enough water to create plaster with a consistency similar to very thick cake batter.


Scott applies the pigmented plaster to stylized flowers.


I added glass marbles to each flower.


We drew the design on the plaster with chalk. When adding new plaster to a dry plaster surface, it is necessary to thoroughly moisten the application surface. Hence the spray bottle visible in the photo. Unfortunately, the water rendered the chalk invisible, so we redrew the design with a pencil. Applying plaster to the vines proved to be challenging due to the thin design and the perhaps-too-large trowel. As it dried, the decoration plaster acquired small cracks. However, Scott had planned for this eventuality and repaired them with a thin paint made by adding a great deal of water to a small container of plaster.


An earthen plaster wall requires protection from the elements. This is typically achieved by building around the structure a porch deep enough to keep rain, snow, and hail away from walls. (An eight-foot deep porch surrounds our house.) However, building a porch around a garage seems like a pointless use of materials. Therefore, in order to keep the walls from washing away in future downpours, Scott applied two coats of linseed oil. The first coast was full strength. He diluted the second coat of linseed oil with limonene, which is made from citrus peels, in a ratio of two linseed oil to one limonene. We successfully used this same technique on the first garage wall two years ago and on our greenhouse three years ago. Neither wall has required maintenance.


After two coats of diluted linseed oil


This is the view as we walk from our kitchen to the garage. Two walls down. Two to go.


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