Bill Bradbury

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since Apr 18, 2014
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Recent posts by Bill Bradbury

Well Cath,

I'm glad you posted pictures, since I had a very different mental image. These are man-made caves! The limestone there appears to be degrading and turning into clay, so it may be necessary to excavate up to 6" of limestone/clay/silt and screen out the stones and lay them according to size; largest to smallest. This will ensure proper drainage if necessary, which this may not be.

Ardilla seems to have covered everything, but I didn't see anything on compression. This is done by tamping the floor mix while still moist, but not wet. It will feel damp but solid. This is critical to achieving a no-crack floor, since the mix will shrink as it dries and the aggregate can be settled into a tighter matrix than when wet while the lime can flow through the aggregate, gluing it all tight.

It is not necessary to seal these floors with wax or oil if you scour the final layer with a wood float and then as it dries even further, wash over and over with a grout sponge until the floor no longer changes color. This means that it is no longer taking in water and has made it's final skin of CaCO3. Note; this is only true if you add a pozzolan like pumice or bitterns(MgCl etc.) if you want to go the Tataki route

All Blessings,

7 years ago
Hi Tom,

As long as the building is properly designed, these or other trusses will work just fine.

All Blessings,
Hi Josse,

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles.

The problem you have is very common, but very difficult to remediate. I recommend not using sand, just stones and gravel. You start with larger cobbles and reduce the stone size with each layer until you have gravel on top. This ensures that you don't wick water up out of the soil while providing a solid base. It sounds to me like the sand has infiltrated the gravel layer and is wicking moisture up through the floor.

To remediate I would; dig up the entire floor and save the clay. Remove the sand and gravel. Dig the undisturbed soil so that it is draining away from the structure. Find lots of cobble rocks and install the floor all over again. I would also add lime to the clay mix to help the floor withstand the occasional wetting from below without turning to mud.

Here's a great article on earthen floors that should get you going in the right direction.

All Blessings,
7 years ago

Gilbert Fritz wrote:Bill, it has been a long time since I read Christopher Alexander's books, but I seem to recall that he used the Christian churches of medieval Europe as examples of his patterns, and a quick search on google books seems to confirm that.

Hi Gilbert,

Yes an architect and a builder have different viewpoints even if they share the same perspective. You are correct that I have inserted my own opinions into this book review, please feel free to ignore them.

I would like to return to the pattern of the spirals that were predominant in our Indo-European ancestors long before medieval Europe built their churches on patterns of the cross.

All Blessings,
7 years ago

Tom Kozak wrote:Hi All,

My house was built with bricks in 1814.   Most of those bricks are still sound but a few are badly spalling (spaling, spalding, spallding?).  I do have a large supply of period bricks (from an interior wall in the basement).  The worst of the bricks I will chip out and replace, but there are large areas near the foundation where ALL the bricks are spalling.  I'd like to just parge coat around the whole house up to about 3 feet.  Is this a good idea?


Tom Kozak wrote:
1.  what kind of mortar should I use around the replacement bricks?

You absolutely must use a lime based as in no OPC mortar.

Tom Kozak wrote:2.  is parging spalled brick a bad idea?  if not what is the pest method of doing this/best product to use?

You have a house that is 200 years old, is your new fix going to be better than what is already there? The real question is when did this start to be a problem? My guess is just a few years after the cement walkways were installed leaving the moisture under the sidewalk nowhere to go but through your porous lime mortared low fired clay brick and leaving a calcium salt efflorescence on the surface of the brick as evidence of it's origin.

Tom Kozak wrote:3.  is there a clear finish/sealer I can put on the entire wall after the parge coat that will let moisture in but not out?

Yes, Siloxane, but this is not necessary if you jackhammer that concrete.

Tom Kozak wrote:4.  should I hire a local bricklayer to have a look at the place and tell me what to do?

this is in Sudbury Ontario (we get short hot summers, long cold winters and A LOT of snow).
a friend had recomended spraying with Tompson Water Sealer but said that would only be a temporary measure and I'd have to re-do it at least once a year.

Yes, but make sure he has real credentials and at least 25 years experience in historic masonry. No to the water sealer, not ever!

All Blessings,
7 years ago
Hi Carol,

Borax works great but is hard on plants, so I usually start with Oxi-Clean and a low pressure spray wash. Then recoat with Penofin if you can get it or BLO will be fine, but it doesn't have a UV blocker.

Insects are bad for houses; especially since they indicate that there is moisture in the log. Get rid of the moisture intrusion(most likely bad roof/wall interface flashings) and you are on your way to eliminating the bugs. Then bread yeast and DE can be used to kill them if they don't just leave on their own. After removing the nests and decay and ensuring all is dry,then use a wood filler. The best patch is made with nasty ole 2 part epoxy. I use Abatron.

All Blessings,
7 years ago