Curing Stucco


Excerpt from The Stucco Book, The Basics by Herb Nordmeyer

“Let’s get away from the chemistry for a little bit and look at a wall that is freshly plastered. IT tends to be a dark gray color. As time passes, some areas of the dark gray fade to a lighter gray. As more time passes more of the dark gray fades to a lighter gray. That dark gray color indicates that there is plenty of moisture present in the mud for chemical hydration to continue. That lighter gray color indicates that there is not enough moisture present for the chemical hydration to continue. That is a slight oversimplification, but pretty accurate. 

If the wall dries out, it is difficult to get it wetted down again to re-create that dark gray stucco color. As a result, it is best to moisten the wall as often as necessary to prevent the dehydration. You are not trying to add water to the stucco, but rather to add as much water to the surface of the stucco as evaporates from the stucco.

The rate of hydration of the cement molecules is temperature-dependent. At lower temperatures, the rate slows and almost stops. If the wall freezes during the first 24 hours after applying the mud, the water in the wall turns to ice and expands. That is why ice floats on top of liquid water. When the water in the stucco freezes, it also expands and puts pressure on the stucco. This causes bonds to break and pieces of stucco to come loose. As a result, the stucco should not be allowed to freeze during that first critical 24 hours. After that first critical 24 hours, a portion of the water in the stucco has been chemically combined with the cement molecules. With that and with a minor loss of water from the stucco due to evaporation, there is some space within the stucco, so if the wall freezes, there is a possibility that no frost damage will occur. With each passing day, the wall can handle more freezing. 

The first step in successfully curing stucco is to arrange your schedule so you do not have to apply stucco when freezing weather is anticipated or when strong drying conditions are likely to exist. f freezing weather is anticipated, plan the construction of the protection before you apply any stucco. After the stucco is applied, encloses it with protection and add gentle heat. A little heat over a long period of time is more effective than a lot of heat over a short period of time. 

In hot weather, plan your day so you are never plastering in the sun. Come out early and start on the west walls so they will have a long curing period before the sun hits them. Then move to the southern walls. After the sun passes its zenith, move tot the eastern walls, and finally finish on the northern walls. 

So, how should a wall be moistened? Use a Hudson-type garden sprayer. Wait until the wall is thumbprint hard, so water will not erode it, and then lightly moisten the entire wall. If you use a garden hose, you may erode some of the stucco. Spray the wall whenever the wall starts appearing just a little bit light.”

More details about curing stucco and a variety of other topics including application techniques, lath materials, the chemistry and history of stucco are available in The Stucco Book, The Basics by Herb Nordmeyer.

Curing Stucco

Sprayed Concrete Mountain For Model Train

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Papa Carney is a very ambitious grandfather, he recently completed a backyard model train and garden project with his family and had a blast building a larger than life concrete mountain. He used a mortar sprayer to apply his concrete and even got some help from the youngest family member. 

Sprayed Concrete Mountain For Model Train

This DIY mountain was constructed using a combination of wood, chickenwire and fabric as the base followed by multiple layers of concrete applied with the 4 Jet Wall Blaster. They loved the texture of the concrete using the sprayer so they left it au natural and then stained the mountain with a variety of liquid stains using standard garden spray bottles. See the video below and follow this link to the original blog post on Papa Carney’s blog

Staining Stucco

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Without color, stucco can be drab and unattractive. Stucco will take on the color of the components its made of including sand, gray or white portland cement or lime. A dry iron oxide pigment can be integrated into the stucco during the mixing process to give a deep layer of color which will keep the application consistent over time even if the building sustains any damage. Or, a stain can be applied after installation and drying is complete, this will give greater control especially if there’s a need to match the color of an existing stucco wall for example during the construction of a home expansion or adding to an existing building. 

If a wall contains a waterproofing coating or polymer-modified cement, the stain will not absorb into the wall. The best path of greatest success is to apply a stain to new stucco wall, or an existing stucco wall free of any paint, stain or sealers. Start with staining a small inconspicuous area, allow it to dry and make sure the final color is what you want. You can add additional layers of stain to achieve a darker color. Use a Hudson-type sprayer to apply your stain, several lighter coats will give better results than one heavy coat. Wait one week or more and decide if you want to add more. 

More info is available in The Stucco Book, The Basics by Herb Nordmeyer 

Fibers For Stucco


Stucco has a reputation for cracking, one solution is to add fiber to the mix. The fiber creates an interconnected three dimensional web suspended within the stucco or plaster moving in every direction and linked, to reduce cracking and improve the overall strength of the entire installation. Premixed bagged stucco and custom mix designs with fibers are readily available online and positive reviews as well as heated discussions abound for each type of fiber including metal, PVA, Fiberglass, Polypropylene, Nylon and Asbestos.

The fibered mixes come from the historical practice of using animal hair often horse hair in plaster mixes to enhance the strength and reduce cracking of plaster and stucco mixes. Below is a short description and a few pros and cons of each type of fiber.

Asbestos Fiber

Fibers For Stucco

Asbestos has a long history going back to the time of the Romans. It was found to enhance the flexural strength of concrete but was also used for textiles to make table cloths and other utilitarian fabrics. It was thin, lightweight and when proportioned properly it was a great benefit to any concrete mix, plus it seemed to last forever. More recently, asbestos was used into the 1950s for siding, roofing, and pipes. Once it was found to cause cancer it fell out of popularity but an alternative that is as effective and economical has yet to be developed.

Fiberglass Fiber

Fibers For Stucco

Fiberglass was developed shortly before World War II, it was marketed as a replacement to steel mesh for stucco as it could be mixed directly into the concrete. With time, the makers of fiberglass fiber for concrete switched to advertising it as a way to enhance a concrete mix but not as a replacement to the structural elements of a project. Fiberglass is still a popular choice for mixing into concrete, there are two main grades, E-glass which is less expensive and AR-glass which stands for alkali-resistant.

Polypropylene Fiber

Fibers For Stucco

Polypropylene fiber came onto the market after fiberglass and was promoted as a way to increase compressive strength and tensile strength. It was pointed out though that the polypropylene fibers would melt at fairly low temperatures and would often become quite brittle once added to a wet concrete mix, therefore losing any of its benefits over fiberglass.

 Nylon Fiber

Fibers For Stucco

Nylon has been around since before fiberglass or polypropylene but it was not used in concrete. The nylon industry jumped on board as the polypropylene fibers began to fizzle out. Fiberglass salesmen pointed out the pitfalls of nylon such that nylon was very stiff and would stick out of any stucco or plaster wall. Also, it would absorb moisture when the wall became wet and then shrink once it dried out losing its bond to the stucco.

Steel Fiber

Fibers For Stucco

When one hears about steel fiber for the first time, they may imagine something like a chopped up piece of steel wool. The steel fiber sold for the stucco industry is often 1 ¼” long by ¼” wide and 1/16” thick. This is most used and effective in the shotcrete industry, not recommended in stucco.

Other fibers are available on the market and there is a long explanation of adding fibers to mixes in Herb Nordmeyer’s book The Stucco Book, The Basics.

Lath and Plaster Bases

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Plaster and stucco must be attached to a base layer that supports the cementitous material structurally. This is typically a type of lath, in the past this was often strips of wood attached to the wooden studs of the wall. Over the wooden strips a mixture of lime, sand, cement and horse hair was often used. That is where the term horsehair plaster comes from. This was the method of building most common until around the 1930s. At that time, Portland Cement began to enter the US market and the building methods slowly evolved.

During World War II metal lath had not yet become popular and a burlap solution was a choice solution as a plaster base. The burlap would be hung from a ceiling and attached to the floor, a soupy stucco mix would be applied as a base coat basically to saturate and then stiffen the burlap. This was a method for building interior walls. Two plasterers would work in unison opposite each other to apply the first layer, it would dry for 3 days and once it was set up and stiff one side would receive a second layer. After two days of drying the other side would receive its second layer. Two days after that a third layer would be applied to each side. After installing any doors or windows into the framed designated areas, additional stucco would be applied up to the level of the wood studs.

Today there the most common lath used is expanded metal sheets, welded wire lath or even chicken wire. There are also plastic and fiberglass options that have a number of benefits over metal, one example is a product called SpiderLath.

When applying a stucco or plaster over a concrete block or a cement wall, lath is only needed if that wall has a layer of paint or waterproofing material over it. Or, if it will not allow a fresh layer of cementitous mix to adhere to it. The easy way to explain this is a phrase such as “Like to Like.” This refers to cementitous surfaces or brick or stone walls that are clean and can accept a layer of stucco or plaster. Other names for a concrete block wall include cinder block and CMU or concrete masonry units. One way to test if a wall has a waterproofing layer over it is to spray a light coating of water onto it, if the water absorbs into the wall quickly then it most likely has not been coated, if droplets form on the surface that means it likely has a sealer over it and will need a layer of lath before applying any stucco or plaster.

If the surface receiving the stucco or plaster is wood, metal or a coated brick, block, stone or concrete wall it will require a layer of lath to allow the stucco or plaster to properly adhere to it.

More details on this subject are available in The Stucco Book, The Basics by Herb Nordmeyer

Lath and Plaster Bases

Congratulations to Herb Nordmeyer

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Congratulations goes to Herb Nordmeyer for his continued work to help the recovery effort for the built environment in Haiti. Nordmeyer has been working tirelessly for several years to teach people how to build disaster resistant affordable homes, working with crews throughout Haiti he has lifted bar for quality affordable housing across the island while also ensuring a properly trained workforce will continue to construct communities using proper concrete mix designs and building techniques to withstand future natural disasters. Nordmeyer will receive the Four Chaplains Award February 4th, 2017 at the St Francis Episcopal Church in San Antonio. 

For the last four years, Herb Nordmeyer along with an outreach crew from his home church, Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and Mission Haiti, have been visiting Haiti and helping local communities build concrete dome homes and community buildings. Herb has begun teaching a college-level course on concrete inspection and building techniques to withstand a variety of natural disasters including hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. He also published a book about his experiences in Haiti called Homes for Jubilee

Congratulations to Herb Nordmeyer

Under Nordmeyer’s guidance, the local crews have built a number of dome structures using balloon forms from Monolithic Dome Institute and a basalt rope rebar to reinforce a custom structural concrete mix. The balloon form is placed over a circular concrete slab 30 feet in diameter and remains expanded until the various layers of concrete and basalt rebar are thick enough to support itself. Final thickness is designed to be 2 ½ inches with slight variations across each project.  

Congratulations to Herb Nordmeyer

Nordmeyer will continue visiting Haiti throughout 2017 to oversee the ongoing construction projects and continue teaching at the American University of the Caribbean. His goal is to complete a second book before the end of 2017 which will be a form of training manual focused on quality concrete mixing and installation for regions prone to seismic activity and natural disasters. 

The need continues for expert volunteers to provide training to skilled and semi-skilled crews throughout Haiti as well as donations of used, fully-operational equipment and tools. To provide donations or inquire about volunteering contact:

Mission: Haiti
2269 S. University Drive, No. 227
Davie, FL  33324
(954) 868-8218 

Congratulations to Herb Nordmeyer

How To Stucco A Shipping Container

stucco shipping container

A friend and artist Mikey Sklar took on the challenge of stuccoing a shipping container. Shipping containers are widely available and fairly affordable from a housing perspective around the world. But one major issue with shipping containers is that they heat up fast during a hot summer day and are not insulated from the cold in winter. A standard stucco application of 3/4″ to 1″ in depth will add a layer insulation, raise the R value significantly and create a comfortable temperature inside the container for a cozy, homey environment. Take a look at the video below and see how Mikey used his 4 Jet Wall Blaster to easily apply the stucco. Mikey’s stucco mix was actually a papercrete mix he designed himself. To learn more about papercrete follow this link.

Mikey’s website

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mikey sklar shipping container

Mikey’s container 1 year later

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Stucco’d shipping container example

Concrete Pool + Cave & Tree Swing


We got this great video and some photos from a customer recently of his incredible concrete pool installation with a cave, water slide and rope swing. Check out the video below to see how it turned out and get some inspiration for your next project. Mike used metal rebar with an overlay of SpiderLath to create the entire cave, slide and tree structure. He applied his gunite layer using the 3 Jet Wall Gun.

Mike wrote…

I built the whole cave with the mortar sprayer, except a structural dry gunite coat on the inside of the cave after it was built. Its a great tool and can do the same work of very expensive shotcrete pumps just takes you longer. But for a guy starting out its a must have tool and I’m glad i have one.


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concrete pool, cave, slide with sprayer

See more work by Mike’s company Bazay Construction on Facebook.

Building a Winning Concrete Canoe


UF concrete canoe teamThe University of Florida ASCE Gators won this year’s Concrete Canoe Competition. Each year Civil Engineer students from around the US, Canada and Mexico participate in regional and national competitions where they build a concrete canoe and race it. Some of the requirements of each team are to prove their concrete canoe will truly float before participating in the competition, complete a presentation about their process showing the various elements that make up their canoe and finally participate in male, female and co-ed races.

UF Concrete Canoe Mens Competition 2015

The concrete canoe team at the University of Florida has been using a mortar sprayer as a main element of their building process since 2013. The mortar sprayer allows for even and very compact layers of concrete to be applied helping to achieve a very thin and lightweight canoe. See photos and video below of the team building their canoe and at this year’s competition. Congrats to the UF Concrete Canoe team on your success and all the best for next year!

Read more about this year’s national competition results here.


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photo credit…


Proline Reclaimed Timber Table Top Mold


While at the Northeast Deco-Crete Conference we got to try out the new Proline reclaimed Timber table top mold. It is exceptional with the look of 200 year old barn wood and the durability of concrete. This mold is incredibly durable and reusable, the final product is very authentic and the mold comes directly from a true reclaimed timber table. Deco-Crete is based in Orrville Ohio and carry all the tools and materials needed to complete successful decorative concrete projects including stamps, molds, brushes, GFRC mixes, paints and stains, etc…

This project was made using the 3 Jet Downward Sprayer and reinforced by a layer of SpiderLath inlaid in the middle of the table. The SpiderLath helps to reduce the chance of shrinkage cracks and long-term cracking or breaking, it reinforces the entire table and gives it greater strength from edge to edge. The mix was evenly applied and allowed the the GFRC fibers in the mix to properly disperse throughout. Hand packing will often compact the fibers and prevent them from achieving adequate dispersion.

We shot the face coat with the Deco-Crete GFRC mix. It is the same as the backer mix but without the fiber.

Here is the mix formula:

2.5 pounds Duracast modifier

0.5 ounce Deco-Crete Superflow

6 pounds water

20 pounds Portland cement


The Deco-Crete East Coast training program is a yearly event free for all contractors, suppliers and fans of Deco-Crete products. Learn more about the products and training at Deco-Crete is a distributor of ToolCrete sprayers to check their stock and purchase a sprayer call (330) 682-5678.

Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB)


CEB stands for Compressed Earth Block and is made of mostly of soil which is compressed by a machine usually at or around 3,000 PSI into blocks for construction purposes. Other components of Compressed Earth Blocks often include non-expansive clay aggregate and sometimes cement. The blocks are laid up in a typical fashion similar to brick or cement block construction using a slurry of the same soil/clay mixture as a bonding agent between the blocks. The CEB walls are then covered in a earth plaster or stucco for protection from the elements and to create a smooth flat wall finish.

The projects featured below used a mortar sprayer during the plaster application to apply the mix to the wall and achieve a consistent even coat.

Open Source Ecology

This is an amazing group working to make industrial machines and methods in a way that is affordable and accessible to the general public. They share their designs online and provide training videos. Watch the CEB Stuccoing Tutorial below.


John Kefauver CEB House

John Kefauver designed and built his 8,000 CEB house over a year period first practicing with a small pump house before moving to the main house. He and his wife made all of their blocks from local soil and lime and layered them with portland cement and mix of soil and masonry sand. John used a mortar sprayer to apply all three coats of stucco to his 16,000 sq. ft. house. His base coat included a mix of soil, lime putty, Portland Cement, cactus juice, fiberglass and other aggregate. He used a small mortar mixer that made a nice wheelbarrow full and then scooped from the that directly into his mortar sprayer for application.

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Concrete Decor Show 2014


This past year’s Concrete Decor Show took place in Fort Worth Texas. Before the show began there were two days of training classes at the Presbyterian Night Shelter just a few minute drive from the main event at the Forth Worth Convention Center. Nathan Giffin of Vertical Artisans worked with a team of students to complete a faux stone entryway complete with benches and planters. He and his team worked for 2 1/2 days using a combination of vertical carving mixes, styrofoam, hand tools, a mortar sprayer and a collection of paints and stains to complete the stone entryway with hanging pots and two big planters. Here is a collection of photos of that project, learn more about Nathan’s training courses, events and join his online forum at


Flex C Ment


Flex C Ment offers an array of products for a variety of applications including overlay systems, stamping, carving, stenciling and troweling. Gregg Hensley travels around the United States giving presentations and working with contractors to teach how to the Flex C Ment systems. We had a chance to meet with Gregg at the 2014 Concrete Decor Show, he discussed how applicators are successful when pairing their Flex C Ment products with a Mortar Sprayer.

UPDATE: Flex-C-Ment has greatly expanded their 2015-2016 training schedule. Their improved details for mass production has made it possible to be price competitive with veneer with a much fresher look. Now Apartment buildings and large commercial projects can be complete much faster than with other systems. Please contact .


At the 2014 Concrete Decor Show Nathan Giffin of Vertical Artisans led a class at the Presbyterian Night Shelter. He and his crew of students built a beautiful faux stone entryway complete with benches and planters. This project was completed in about 2 1/2 full days. The students left with the tools and knowledge to go home and enhance their hardscaping and contracting businesses. Take a look at the photos below of their progress…


See the full gallery at /vertical-artisan-concrete-decor-show-2014

Coloring Stucco | Integral Color


Coloring stucco, plaster and other cementitious materials is a great way to have everlasting color in your walls, concrete countertops, pools, etc…

Jeremy French of BLUE Concrete explains how to formulate and pigment your mix for your next project.

Pigments come in an unlimited variety and can be combined to make or match almost any color. Some basics colors to have in your kit include earthen pigment colors like greens, blues, yellows, browns, black and white. These earth colors are popular choices for exterior stucco and interior plaster applications.

Integral color via pigments like these are wonderful for long lasting beautiful walls, sculptures and other projects. The integrated pigments allow the color to last and stand up to the elements including attacks from the sun, rain, wind and humans! Accidents and paint can’t always hold up like a stucco or plaster wall with integral color.

Thorough dispersion is important for a consistent color across your stucco wall. During the mixing process add all your liquids and 80% of the dry components. Add in all of the pigment and mix thoroughly before adding the final dry ingredients. The sand will help break down the pigments and disperse it throughout, be sure to follow manufacturers instructions for mixing.

Learn more about stucco colors by following this link or visiting //


3 Story FasWall Construction at Yachats Brewing


Nathan Bernard, owner of the Yachats Farm Store and Yachats Brewing is in the middle of constructing a 3 story addition using the FasWall blocks. We got to spend a day with him as he began applying the first coat of interior stucco (Stucco Core Mix). Watch the video below where he gives a tour of the project and explains the construction process. Nathan used a 4 Jet Combo Blaster to apply the stucco while a second crew member followed behind troweling the wall to a consistent 3/8″ layer. The scratch coat was followed by the brown coat, also 3/8″ and the finish coat 1/4″. The sand Nathan started with was a sharp mixed grade gray sand that had some aggregate that was quite large that worked fine for the scratch and brown coat. Nathan wanted the final coat to be as white as possible so they used a white portland cement and a mixed grade sharp white sand. Yachats Brewing plans to begin operation this October. Until then the Farm Store is open serving lunch 11-3 and offering over a dozen brews from Western Oregon. You can learn more about the FasWall system at or call (855) 558-4588 and ask for Tom. If you’re looking for a sprayer or stucco mix for your next project give us a call at (541) 683-4167 or email

faswall yachats brewing construction 2Nathan spraying the HERB-CRETE Stucco.

faswall yachats brewing construction 3Nathan spraying his first wall.

faswall yachats brewing construction 4Spray, Trowel, Spray, Trowel…

faswall yachats brewing construction 5Local, organic heirloom tomatoes!

faswall yachats brewing construction 6List of current brews on tap.

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faswall yachats brewing construction 8Back troweling the first coat of stucco to create greater adhesion with the second coat.

FasWall Building System


Recently we visited a jobsite where the FasWall system was being used to construct the basement walls of a new home. FasWall insulated wood chip-cement forms are made of recycled material and extremely environmentally friendly. Building with this approach is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to go Green and especially if you’re located in the Pacific Northwest. These forms are manufactured exclusively by ShelterWorks ltd in Philomath OR and are designed to create a highly insulated, breathable and clean environment.

Thermal mass is a very realbenefitof the Faswall® green building system. It significantly reduces the energy needed to heat and cool buildings. It creates an elegant interior living space as both humidity and temperature remains constant.

Using FasWall is easy and fast for a DIY home builder, in conjunction with a stucco sprayer and a premium breathable stucco, a team of 2 or 3 can construct the walls and apply the stucco easily. Watch this video below to see how one homeowner applied his stucco in just one day.


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Applying HERB-CRETE Stucco Core Mix™ directly to the FasWall forms using a 3 Jet Wall Gun.

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These guys worked fast and efficiently using their sprayer, the scaffolding helped them quickly move up and down the wall.

faswall-toolcrete-herbcrete 4The mixing station- For the best mix be sure to use a tow-behind mortar mixer.

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After spraying, another guy followed closely behind to trowel everything smooth.

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Covering the walls after applying the stucco is very important for proper curing. This ensures the final strength of the wall.

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It’s very important to clean the Mortar Sprayer and putting it in a bucket of water during any downtime to keep it from clogging with dried stucco.

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Closeup of the FasWall form.


Click the links below to learn more about each of these products…

Vertical Decorative Concrete Course Review 2014


Wow, 2014’s vertical decorative concrete course was a huge success. We had some of the greatest concrete artists here in Oregon a few weeks ago at the West Coast Training Center including Nathan Giffin ( Earl Senchuk (, David Seils ( and Steve Kornher ( These trainers each demonstrated their unique style and building skills throughout the week. The week flew by and by the final day we had 5 new completed rooms and projects.

Students flew in from around the US and even one came from Taiwan. Nathan setup this year’s training to work a little differently, each trainer worked on their project throughout the day allowing the students to move from room to room learning the skills of each project. This allowed for each student to learn a much broader set of techniques and skills for various applications.

Checkout this selection of photos or click here to see the full album.

Spraying Moon Gate

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Installing rebar dome

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Steve Kornher spraying arched roof

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Earl Senchuk Preparing base for Living Tree

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Applying first layer to Living Tree

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

David Seils wall mural

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Practicing vertical rock formations

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

The whole team 2014


Finished Moon Gate, Rock Wall & Living Tree

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Vertical Artisans Decorative Concrete Training 2014

Making Dinosaurs at the Austraila Zoo


cameron chapman australia zooHere at ToolCrete we’re so lucky to get to work with some of the most interesting and amazing concrete projects going on around the world. Last fall we got a call from down under with an order for some sprayers to Steve Irwin’s Austraila Zoo in Queensland. They have a dedicated artist on staff who creates their custom sculptures found throughout the zoo. Cameron is that artist who combines many basic construction materials and molds them into these incredible works of art.

Recently we got him to send us some photos of his work to share with you! He used his mortar sprayers to create these beautiful concrete sculptures which can now be found throughout the zoo property. Cameron is using the 4 Jet Wall Blaster and 4 Jet Combo Blaster on his projects.

Also check out this video about Cameron and the work he does at the zoo.

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Stucco Sprayer for Walls

The ToolCrete Stucco Sprayer can be used for applying plaster, shotcrete, papercrete, earthen mixes, plastering a stucco house, traditional one coat or three coat stucco, GFRC, stamped concrete, stucco fences, organic sculptures, and more! learn more

SpiderLath Donates for Upcoming Decorative Concrete Training


Bill Foster of SpiderLath recently made a huge donation of the finest fiberglass lath to the West Coast Training Center in Lorane OR. This lath will be used in the upcoming Decorative Concrete Training Course run by Nathan Giffin of Nathan will be joined by some of the finest minds in decorative concrete April 28 – May 2 for the 3rd annual West Coast Training Seminar.

Space is limited, sign up here today!

The West Coast Training Center is an underground house built in the 1960s and is currently being renovated into a hobbit home (see concept drawing here). Each room will be occupied by a different trainer, each applying their own distinctive and signature design to the room while keeping with the central hobbit theme.

Trainers include…

Read more about the upcoming course and signup here.

SpiderLath Donation to West coast Training Center 1SpiderLath Donation to West Coast Training Center 2

GFRC Vertical Backcoat with Trinic LLC


GFRC applications are Mark’s specialty. At his shop in New York State, he recently conducted a class on GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) applications. He showed off the new single hole extrusion plate accessory available at Check out the video below and visit his site for more information about his classes and GFRC products at

Monolithic Dome | Tour of Monolithic Headquarters


Monolithic Structures has been perfecting the process of building dome shelter for decades. Gary Clark, VP of Sales in Italy Texas gave us a tour of their world headquarters recently and showed us what years of testing and perfecting can produce. Watch this video as Gary shows us around and describes the process of building EcoShells with basalt rebar and a mortar sprayer and see what amazing things they can build.

Did you know that a dome is one of the most structurally sound designs in the world. Monolithic domes stand up to natural disasters with great success including tornadoes, earthquakes and hurricanes. Monolithic Structures has built their domes across the world in 49 states and 52 foreign countries.

Watch this video and get in touch to discuss your project.

Decorative Concrete Training


vertical artisan west coast training 2014

UPDATE: The last classes have been wonderful as a time to learn and also make connections in the industry that have not been possible in other formats. The next class will be in September 2015. If you are interested in themed concrete as a profession or an art please contact Nathan Giffin early at:


It’s that time of year again, Nathan Giffin is gearing up to join us here in Oregon for the 3rd training program at the West Coast Training Center. If you’re interested in learning from the best about vertical decorative concrete clear your calendar between April 28 and May 2nd. The West Coast Training Center is an underground house located in Lorane OR. It was built in the 1960s and is now the location of this yearly gathering of the finest minds in decorative concrete.

Limited Space: Call Nathan at 708.233.9394

click here to Sign Up Now

Teachers at this year’s training will include…

Nathan Giffin,– Nathan is the organizer and leader of this training program. He is a Chicago born decorative concrete master who travels the world constructing some of the most amazing concrete designs. He is a regular participant at the World of Concrete and runs, an online community of decorative concrete artists and online training program for all types of decorative concrete work.

david seils 2David Seils,– The artist/sculptor David Seils has revived an art style that has been used for thousand of years to decorate walls and the frieze of buildings, relief sculpture. In the past, artwork was tediously carved in marble or limestone to only a depth of a few inches to create the illusion of depth. With the advantage of new materials, the same effect can be accomplished by building up the relief sculpture instead of carving.

David is originally from West Salem, Wisconsin and received formal art training at Viterbo College, La Crosse, Wisconsin; The Clearing, a University of Wisconsin Extension; Madison, Wisconsin; The University of Kansas; Lawrence, Kansas and the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida.


earl senchuckEarl Senchuk EarlSenchuk.comFirst HANDS ON CLASS with Living Tree Art for Vertical Artisans! Earl will be sculpting a Bonzi Tree in the main “Nerve Center” Room. arl’s art mediums include various clays, welded metals, watercolor, wire, fiber, concrete, and living foliage. His works are on display in various locations around Marquette, Michigan and at the Michigamme Moonshine Art Gallery in Michigamme.








steve kornher flying concreteSteve Kornher,– Steve specializes in lightweight concrete design and will be teaching his signaturecatenary arch roof design. Steve has lived in beautiful central Mexico for over 20 years in San Miguel de Allende with his wife where he has designed and built numerous houses, studios and other buildings. Steve’s home is a testament of his work and has been featured in magazines, online and TV shows. He has constructed some of the most fascinating and wacky properties in North America. Steve also conducts training courses throughout the US and Mexico, teaching his unique vertical and ceiling techniques. Check out a recent photo album of his workhere.





Some of the topics that will be covered include…

  • One Day Walls
  • Stone Facing
  • Positive Carving
  • Foam Design
  • Armature Bending
  • Mold Making
  • Epoxy Molding
  • And Much More!

Limited Space: Call Nathan at 708.233.9394

click here to Sign Up Now

What’s included

  • One year subscription to core curriculum ($800 value)
  • All meals will be catered
  • 5 days of training by some of the finest minds in decorative concrete
  • Collaboration and networking with decorative concrete colleagues from across the country


We are going to prep a room, by the way all the rooms are circular and domed, anyway this room will be prepared and EVERY DAY in the morning sessions David will be introducing new techniques that can be executed in the room by the students.

So the entire room will be laid out and drawn out. This way the students once they have practiced the effect on the practice wall they can then attempt the technique on the real wall under the supervision of David himself…


Every morning this can be done and their is no limit the room is big enough and techniques will include:

Trees, rocks, bushes, shrubs and leave, grasses ect… all the things that make up land scapings.. .

After the session with David we will continue with various techniques of Stone Facing, Positive Carving, Foam Design and One Day Wall Applications.



Finish the Final Wall in the Main Center Room ( The Nerve Center )

Design a Foam Based (Interior) Concrete covered & sculpted Water Feature to go in the center of this room

Complete a “David Seils” Room

Finish Exposed Stone Room complete with plaster and ceiling effects.



More Positive Carving in the entrance

One Day Wall system on the other entrance with a archway to garden / patio area

Call Now To Sign Up708.233.9394

Learn about previous courses at the West Coast Training Center Here.

Ferrocement Conch Shell Design


ferrocement conch shellWill Higginson is an architect/ builder who is in the final stage of completing his thinshell ferrocement performance stage. He built it for his yearly gatherings with friends and family where they spend a week celebrating the passing summer and many of his friends sing, dance and share their talents.

Will meticulously planned out each aspect of the shell which has turned into a multi-year project. He used his 4 Jet Combo Blaster to apply each layer of the ferrocement which helped him achieve an even layer across the structure and save him significant time compared to the traditional painful hawk and trowel method.


Photo Album

Stucco Sprayer for Walls

The ToolCrete Stucco Sprayer can be used for applying plaster, shotcrete, papercrete, earthen mixes, plastering a stucco house, traditional one coat or three coat stucco, GFRC, stamped concrete, stucco fences, organic sculptures, and more!

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World of Concrete 2014


Join us next week at the World of Concrete 2014, we’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of World of Concrete in collaboration with some of the greatest decorative concrete artists in the world. Join us in the decorative concrete area where our sprayers will be in use by Nathan Giffin of, Ed Swarek of Artistry in 3D and Adrian Gascon of Legacy Pool and Spa.

World_Of_Concrete 2014-2

Let us know if you’ll be there!

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Doomsday Preppers- Geodesic Dome For Survival


The finale of season 3 of Doomsday Preppers was all about Drones & Domes. Check out the clip below to see David Nash of Tennessee build his geodesic dome in preparation for impending disasters and catastrophes. David used the 3 Jet Wall Gun to apply the concrete shell onto his dome. Watch the one minute clip below and check out more at

Concrete Canoe Construction with a Mortar Sprayer


UF concrete canoe team 2013 finalsEarlier this year we spoke with Michael Stevenson, a fourth year civil engineering student at the University of Florida who plays a vital role in one of the school’s most fascinating teams. He is the construction captain of the university’s Concrete Canoe Team. This past season the University of Florida used their concrete canoes constructed using a ToolCrete Mortar Sprayer won their regional competition and went on to the ASCE National Concrete Canoe Competition (NCCC) at Lake Champlain IL. This competition is put on each year by the Association of Civil Engineers in order to give engineering students the opportunity they need to utilize the skills that they have learned in the classroom. It also provides them with experience in team building and project management that they will be able to take with them as they pursue their career after college.

3 Jet Wall Gun Sprayer used by the UF Concrete Canoe Team

The competition is hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) that represents the biggest network of engineers within the United States university system. This organization provides students with a means of gaining experience outside of their college careers. The Concrete Canoe Team represents one of these outlets for students to hone and apply their skills.

After gathering information from Stevenson regarding the canoes unique building process we were able to gain knowledge on the way our sprayers were used in their construction. After constructing the canoe’s mold, from mixing to applying carbon fiber, Shotcrete is then sprayed onto the canoe until the layer is about an eighth of an inch thick. The canoes themselves are actually lighter than water (about 55 pcf for the canoe vs. about 62.4 pcf for water) due to the concrete used within its structure.

This year the team placed first at regionals, a feat one must accomplish in order to qualify for the NCCC. The canoes constructed by the university using their Mortar Sprayer by ToolCrete showed the value and competitive edge a sprayer can provide when building a concrete canoe. We wish them all the best in the years to come.



Adobe Cistern Construction Guide

stucco sprayer adobe cistern-11A customer in New Mexico recently completed an amazing underground adobe cistern and we’re thrilled to share his experience, check out the photos and account of the project from Daniel Hutchison of

On this mountain, the sole source of water for both agricultural and domestic use is a traditional acequia (irrigation ditch). Before I started the house, I wanted a water source for the construction process, so I built a cistern to be filled from our small watershed.
The idea was to minimize cost / eco-footprint by using minimal cement to get the job done. read more →

Building A Home Wine Cellar


VA wine cellar-10Nathan Giffin is an incredibly talented artist. He uses stucco and concrete to sculpt and transform ordinary spaces into amazing works of art. Recently Nathan and his crew completed a gorgeous home wine cellar. With some help from his helmet GoPro 3 Cam we get to take a look at the project as the transformation took place. See Videos and photo gallery below… read more →

SCIP Construction Guide: Mix, Wire & Sprayer for Success


SCIP panelA customer recently sent an excellent question regarding SCIP construction we had to share. If you’re looking to start a SCIP project read through this question and guide for a successful application from the beginning. read more →

Covering Compressed Earth Block | Applying Stucco to CEB


spraying stucco compressed earth block opensource ecologyGraham Robertson of the Open Source Ecology demonstrates how to use the stucco sprayer when working with Compressed Earth Block.

Compressed Earth Block or CEB is simply a form of construction using highly compressed earth in the shape of large bricks. This technique is more popular in the Southern United States as well as Latin America and many developing countries. These blocks are made of clay, inorganic soil, aggregates and sometimes cement.

Open Source Ecology has published a design free for anyone to use of a compressed earth block press. They say this press will allow two people to produce a wall of blocks 20 feet in diameter and 1 foot thick in one 8 hour day.

Once a CEB structure is complete it’s vital to cover the blocks and protect it from the elements. The stucco sprayer provides a method of applying the adobe or earth based stucco in an efficient manner while providing a coating that is consistent in depth. It’s important to be sure when applying plaster or stucco to CEB’s that the mix has the same coefficient of expansion as the blocks. In other words, cement stuccos should not be used on CEB’s because of the likelihood of delamination between the two materials.

Sprayer Used in this video:

4 Jet Combo Blaster

4 Jet Combo Blaster

Open Source Ecology CEB Press

compressed earth block press opensource ecology

Constructing A Monolithic Dome


with Dan Hildebrand

monolithic dome haiti- hildebrand smallIn 2012 Dan Hildebrand set out to help with the recovery efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake. He and a local semi-skilled crew constructed a 40 foot diameter Monolithic Dome using a custom balloon form from Monolithic Structures and a 4 Jet Combo Blaster stucco sprayer. Dan arrived to find the local crew completely empty handed. “When we arrived to start working, there wasn’t a pencil on the site, there wasn’t a single hand tool, there wasn’t a screw driver. No one had a knife, no one had anything. So even finding a compressor turned into a real nightmare.”

Inspired by the efforts of Steven Kirby at H.E.R.O., Dan raised $30,000 to construct a community centered facility that could be highly functional for the rural community of Maniche but also serve as a safety shelter during hurricanes and other natural disasters.

With two skilled tradesmen from Port Au Prince, Dan directed the local crew in constructing the balloon form and applying a thin layer of stucco to the interconnected metal re-bar surrounding the form. “They set about putting essentially a thin layer of shotcrete on first using a 3 to 1 sand to cement mix with a lot of large pieces of aggregate in the sand.” They used a thick mix with just enough water to allow it to pass through the stucco sprayer. Using a mixer for consistency, the crew would fill a wheelbarrow and then push the mix over to the site where another crew member would scoop or shovel it into the stucco sprayer’s hopper ready for application.

Dan admitted to trying the stucco sprayer for the first time before his trip to Haiti at a neighbor’s house. Using the little experience he had, he was able to train the local crew who adopted their own techniques to make the sprayer work to their liking. “The guys using the sprayer understood it quickly and found the best way to use it, as people who build do very quickly.”

Dan has big plans for the future of Monolithic Dome building throughout the developing world. “I can see a situation where we’ll have 3 sprayers or more running at the same time on one building. “It’s really great. This is not like a 2 inch shotcrete hose that you run off a pump connected to a concrete truck.” That kind of setup is just way too costly in most places around the world. We’re trying to do the equivalent job at a much more affordable price using what’s available wherever we may be. I intend to use the mortar sprayers on any ecoshell building projects I’m involved in.”

“We’re in the business of doing multiple units of housing in developing worlds. We need a piece of equipment that we can rely on and I’m certain the mortar sprayer is going to work out well for us.”

Progress Photosmonolithic dome 1-2 monolithic dome 3-4 monolithic dome 5-6 monolithic dome 7-8 monolithic dome 9-10

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The new Wall and Ceiling Combination Sprayer has a stainless steel hopper for unmatched durability. The unique hopper angle and overflow flap allows for application on ceilings or higher areas. It can be used to spray mortar, plaster, small scale shotcrete, papercrete, earthen mixes, and more!

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3-Hole Plaster Sprayer

The Plaster Sprayer is a favorite tool of concrete artisans and plastering professionals. The stainless steel hopper is extremely durable and easy to clean. The extension handle and hopper handle are designed to give you good control, balance and comfort while you are applying material.

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Easy Wicking Beds Made With Stucco and Rammed Earth


Wicking beds are becoming more and more popular as an easier and more efficient method for growing fruits and vegetables. Rather than the traditional downward drip or spraying method, wicking beds allow water to spread from the bottom up giving plants the water they need and nothing more. One simple way to create your own wicking bed is with some Styrofoam or rammed earth covered in stucco.

wicking bed stucco 1

The customers who built these wicking beds explained their process. “This was 1″ styrofoam sprayed with basalt fiber impregnated ferrocement mix. Use hole to fill with water. Pea gravel below hole, then landscape cloth. Water wicks upwards to plants. Rain water is also captured. Hole also serves as overflow. Growth has been excellent, and have only filled once. I’m not sure I even needed to fill it, but I was near with a hose. Can add urine to hole for additional wickable fertilizer. The hole is turning out to be a more elegant solution than the piping used for other solutions.”

wicking bed stucco 2

“Second larger bed in the distance was made with rammed earth then sprayed with basalt fiber ferrocement. Roving wrapped around outside, then sprayed again. We found that the effort to use rammed earth was greater than the embodied energy benefit of using earth.”

Find more interesting projects and ferrocement stories by following us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+

Concrete Countertop GFRC Sprayer In Action (video)


Interest has been growing for the new Concrete Countertop GFRC Sprayer and we’d like to share some videos we recently received from Lukeworks based in Baltimore MD. They’ve been busy completing an order for 30 GFRC concrete tables and have found the new sprayer incredibly helpful. Check out the two videos below.

This sprayer may be used with the 1, 2 or 3 jet settings. Made in the USA, all sprayers from ToolCrete are designed with durability and comfort in mind. The stainless steel hopper is easy to clean and the green powder coated carbide grit handles allow maximum grip and control. Learn more…

Building A Really Scary Haunted House with Stucco


spookey woods castleWhen it comes to haunted house construction Tony Wohlgemuth knows how it’s done. In High Point, North Carolina Tony has been developing a Haunted House theme park amidst his family’s Christmas tree farm. Using a 4 jet Wall Blaster, Tony’s team applied stucco over SpiderLath and used an artistic touch to create the creepy old feel everyone knows and loves to be scared of each October at the Kersey Valley Spookywoods.

During the summer of 2012, Tony’s team built an elaborate labyrinth within the forest including a castle, crematorium, mausoleums, and vaults all from a combination of common building materials as the base and then applying SpiderLath and stucco to bring the forms to life. Continue below to see the haunted house come to life and watch the video tour, contact us to discuss creating your house of horrors.



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3 New Sprayers from ToolCrete


Today we are proud to announce three new sprayers from ToolCrete, made in the USA with durability and performance in mind. Taking customer feedback, we have manufactured sprayers for a new variety of applications. We’re proud to manufacture the best stucco and plaster sprayers on the market, all made in the USA. Every detail of each sprayer has been carefully tested to ensure the highest quality. All new sprayers are made with stainless steel hoppers that are easy to clean, multiple jet sizes for customized speed and efficiency. Contact us today to discuss which sprayer is best for your project. read more →

Kickstarter Campaign for Ferrocement



ferrocement kickstarter campaign
We are proud to support our friend David as he embarks on a journey to write a book on a popular construction material and method called ferrocement. Known worldwide, ferrocement is still gaining popularity in the US. We are proud to back this kickstarter campaign and hope you will too. Help us spread the word on this simple and affordable construction method that is more sustainable, durable and efficient for the 21st Century.

Ferrocement defined by Wikipedia

The termferrocementis most commonly applied to a mixture ofPortland cementand sand applied over layers of woven or expanded steel mesh and closely spaced small-diameter steel rodsrebar. It can be used to form relatively thin, compound curved sheets to make hulls for boats, shell roofs, water tanks, etc. It has been used in a wide range of other applications including sculpture and prefabricated building components. The term has been applied by extension to othercomposite materialsincluding some containing no cement and no ferrous material. These are better referred to by terms describing their actual contents.

Ferro concrete has relatively good strength and resistance to impact. When used in house construction in developing countries, it can provide better resistance to fire, earthquake, and corrosion than traditional materials, such as wood, adobe and stone masonry. It has been popular in developed countries for yacht building because the technique can be learned relatively quickly, allowing people to cut costs by supplying their own labor. In the 1930s through 1950’s, it became popular in the United States as a construction andsculptingmethod fornovelty architecture.

The economic advantage of ferro concrete structures is that they are stronger and more durable than some traditional building methods.[citation needed]Depending on the quality of construction and the climate of its location, houses may pay for themselves with almost zero maintenance and lower insurance requirements. Water tanks could pay for themselves by not needing periodic replacement, if properly constructed ofreinforced concrete.[citation needed]

Ferro concrete structures can be built quickly, which can have economic advantages. In inclement weather conditions, the ability to quickly erect and enclose the building allows workers to shelter within and continue interior finishing.

More info…

Ferrocement Water Tank in Guatemala

David’s Ferrocement Kickstarter Campaign

Ferrocement on Wikipedia

Ferrocement Boats