Proper Design for a Smoke-Free Fireplace Dear James: I am adding a room on to my house, and it will have a fireplace. The existing fireplace in the living room is often smoky. How can I keep the new fireplace from filling the room with smoke? — Jon C. Dear Jon: Smoke from a wood-…Read more. Apply a French-Polish Finish to Woodwork Dear James: I recently bought an older house. It has beautiful cherry woodwork that needs to be refinished. I have heard about a French polish finish. Is this a good finish to use and how do I do it? — Carol J. Dear Carol: Nothing is more …Read more. It Is Not Difficult to Lay Wall-to-Wall Carpeting Dear James: My children are getting older now, and it is probably time for some new wall-to-wall carpeting. If I can install it myself, I can afford to do all the rooms. Is this a job for a do-it-yourselfer? — John G. Dear John: Although most …Read more. Circuit Breakers for Electrical Safety Dear James: There were two electrical house fires in my neighborhood this year, and both houses had circuit breakers. Please explain the differences between fuses, breakers, ground fault and arc fault circuit interrupters and which are best. — …Read more.more articles
Finish Your Exposed Foundation With Stucco
Dear Pat: We have done some landscaping near the house over the years, and now quite a lot of the block foundation is exposed. It looks bad. What can I apply over it to make it look nicer? — Jen F.
Dear Jen: People don't often think about how a foundation looks, but in situations such as yours, or on sloping lots, the exposed blocks or poured concrete is not particularly attractive. Covering it will help protect it from rain and leaks and should also enhance the appearance of the nearby landscaping.
You have two basic options — siding or stucco — both of which you can apply yourself. I prefer applying stucco to the foundation because it also seals the foundation. Attaching synthetic siding is the easiest-to-apply option. Some types are specifically designed to be used over foundations.
The best type of siding to use on a foundation is made of tough plastic that is extremely durable. The style of siding you select will depend on the type of house construction. Simulated brick siding may provide pleasant contrast for a house with clapboard (wood, aluminum or vinyl). It is available in large panels, which you can easily cut to fit the foundation.
Simulated stone siding over the foundation is particularly attractive on a brick or stucco house. There are many patterns from which to select, but using a standard rectangular pattern is probably best. It simulates how a true stone foundation looks.
Your other option, applying stucco, may take a little practice to get the right surface texture and finish. It will still be an effective protective foundation covering even if it does not result in the appearance you desire.
You should be able to purchase all the materials you need for less than $100. Stucco is a mixture of cement, clean sand and lime. It is very similar to mortar used to hold bricks together. Once it is applied, it should last as long as the house stands.
A typical stucco mixture is one part cement to three parts sand and one-half part lime. Selecting various types of sand will impact the finished color of the stucco when it cures on the foundation wall. Stucco, similar to concrete, can be colored by adding pigments to the mixture.
Use a pressure washer to clean off the existing foundation wall. A garden hose will not have enough force. Scrubbing it with a cleaner and a brush is also effective and a reasonable method if you do not have too much foundation area to cover.
Wait until no rain is forecast for several days. Select the time of day and the side to start on so the fresh stucco is not exposed to the full sun. This will not harm the stucco, but it may set up a little too fast for an inexperienced person to get the desired surface texture.
Mix in enough water to create a stucco consistency similar to dough. Also, make up a small amount of very wet (much water) stucco mixture to paint on the foundation immediately before applying the stucco. Spread on the stucco with a trowel, and be creative with the texture.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about Pat Logan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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