We were blessed again with mild weather for rendering. Brad and Mark arrived to a lovely cool morning at the house on Sunday morning, and before long we were getting stuck into the third and final coat of render on our inside walls.
We had almost forgotten to do some test renders, but thankfully the hot weather dried them out quickly (Peter did them Friday morning), and his combo of 5 parts washed sand, 10 parts local red clayish sand and 1.5 parts lime, was just the thing. This was a real bonus, as we didn’t have to muck around changing the render mix on the day. As an added bonus, we loved the colour of it as well.
We had a fantastic line-up of Teresa (aka the workhorse legend), Ben (the self-proclaimed and very necessary ‘anal’ wall finisher), ever vibrant and adaptable Hans (thank you for lending us your tools) and Cath (best cake-maker ever and excellent wall finisher), as well as Logan (thank you for your hard work and fabbo kiwi humour). So we were set for a great day.
Each coat of render has required very different work once it hits the walls. The third coat, not surprisingly requires the most work and finishing. I must mention that I am on ‘no duties’ and mostly watched all of this (torture!) so when I say ‘we’, I mean collectively! Once we got into the swing of it, we worked really well as a team, and the first wall that was done was a piece of art – the down side is that it is now the benchmark, and without Ben’s perfecting eye, I’m not sure if we will be able to match it on our other walls!
One interesting thing we found was that Peter and I have different ideas about the kind of finish we wanted. Our theory was that we would go with the higher end of what we both wanted. I like the more rough look, with little holes and dents, whereas Peter prefers a more finished look. No problem for me, and it was resolved easily and quickly. Brad had told us that we wouldn’t really know the kind of finish we were looking for until we did it and had a look. He was right (of course!).
I remember looking at other straw bale houses and photos and wondering how our walls would look in comparison, and I must confess I LOVE our walls. They are better than I could ever have imagined. The third coat is so transformative that it’s hard to believe that the final coat makes them look soooooo good.
We got the lounge, kitchen, dining, and master bedroom/ensuite done yesterday, and now we have a much better idea of how long things take. So the next two weekends are hand-rendering extravaganzas, and now with our experience in the three coats, we can set up teams and really go for it.
The rendering stage is by far the most favourite part of the build so far for Peter and I, and everyone who has had a go has absolutely loved it – what can I say, there is something very special about playing with mud!