Autumn renderings

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Finally getting onto the finishing work on the front of the house on the street side and in the alleyway. All the interior timber and wattle and daub walls have been restored with a light mix of lime and flax (straw). This was followed by a last coat of lime plaster for which I used air lime (CAEB) and two types of sand (sable calcaire) from a  local lime stone quarry, giving it either a nice creamy, or ochre coloured finish, which matches the colour of the original daub. The other walls have just had a whitewash finish directly onto the lime and flax render.

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Timber frame alleyway

The last big project was the restoration of the timber frame facade in the alleyway. The top floor had already been restored in 2008, with a whole new infill of ‘fresh’ daub made from old walls to which I added some sand and straw. The old daub panels on the first floor were in bad shape and still needed repair. This time I didn’t use new daub but chose a more commonly used traditional technique, filling the bigger holes with a mix of lime mortar and bits of old terra cotta tiles. The main advantage being the shorter drying time – daub takes a few months to dry. I used a special hydraulic lime (Boehm NHL-2) which is not too strong and compatible with vernacular materials. This lime has definitely air lime qualities and the mortar doesn’t set immediately if kept overnight under a film of water, making it still usable the next day.

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Wattle and daub before restoration

The infill was followed by a first coat of lime render (corps d’enduit) to which I added some flax straw (horse bedding) to stop it from cracking. For the finishing layer I used an earth plaster made from crushed old daub, sieved at 2 mm, to which I added an ochre coloured quarry sand, also sieved at 2 mm, and a little bit of lime (about 20% of NHL-2). The render was applied with a plaster knife and then worked by trowel to get a smooth finish, which the French call a finition serré (‘tight’ finish).

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