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.


YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image


photo credit…


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!

learn more

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.



Affordable SCIP Panel Home Construction with Amor Ministries


SCIP panel home amor ministriesAmor Ministries, located in San Carlos, Arizona recently launched a project that provides the local Apache tribe with low cost housing using SCIP Panel construction. SCIP buildings were chosen for their low cost, high insulation and simplicity. Volunteer church and school groups visit San Carlos to work with local team leader Jonathan Hayek and construct these homes. During their visit, each group will spend a few days working on a home where they will do anything from assembling the SCIP panels, applying the stucco, painting and more. Each group receives a few free days during their stay for local excursions to go hiking, visit nearby Phoenix or relax.

The houses themselves are built using SCIP panels, a total of 85 to a home. The panels arrive onsite by truck where the volunteers assemble the home over the concrete slab. Once assembled the volunteers cover the exterior and interior including the ceiling and roof with stucco using a ToolCrete Stucco Sprayer. The sprayer helps to reduce application time significantly and is a lot more fun than applying everything by hand. These homes are built as permanent residences and will likely be the home of an Apache family for generations. SCIP Panel homes remain environmentally friendly and provide efficient insulation while keeping residents cool despite the uncomfortable Arizona heat. Upon completion a family is able to purchase the home at an extremely low rate and contribute to its finishing touches, which includes painting and furnishing.

Amor has joined hands with different parishes, schools, and communities near and far in order to bring the people of the San Carlos Apache Reservation high quality and comfortable living conditions. If you’re interested in learning more about SCIP Panel construction please contact ToolCrete at (800) 669.3272 or to volunteer for the next build project visit Amor’s website.

Up Next…SCIP Construction- Stucco Sprayer VS. Stucco Pump VS. Dry Gunite

Insulated SCIP Panel Homes | Construction in Africa


imison scip panel zambia 9

To some the idea of living within the walls of a Zambian mining town may not seem all too attractive, however Imison recently wrapped a project that may change the way one thinks of a typical African mining town. The construction company has suppliedStructural Concrete Insulated Panelbuilding kits to mining areas like those in Solwezi where 85 3-bedroom houses, a school, sports center, and guest lodge are being put into place for the mine’s management.

One attractive quality that clients found about the homes were insulation benefits that ToolCrete™ Mortar Sprayer products provided. Zambia rests within an extremely warm climate- summer heat often rising above 100° F.For this reason it was essential that the buildings maintained consistent and comfortable temperatures year round without the use of air conditioning. The houses have been incredibly well received by mine management and their families due to ‘green’ credentials that they represented, the most popular being solar water heaters. Angus Ferguson, of Comstruct Corporation in Zimbabwe, stated in an interview with ToolCrete™ that “the mine itself has its own objectives as being as environmentally friendly as possible”.

When the project first began, a specialized crew was sent in from South Africa by Imison to train local foremen and builders on the erection process for the first frames of the structures. They then came back with suggestion for improvement, which is where the ToolCrete Sprayer Guns came into play by providing stucco as an easy, eco-friendly alternative that creates a comfortable living space given the harsh climate.

The Comstruct crews worked in teams for spraying the stucco onto the Imison SCIP Panel system. Each house had 2 to 3 spray crews going at once to get the job done fast and efficiently. The first crew member mixed the stucco while the second supplied fresh mix to the third who used the sprayer to apply the stucco onto the Imison SCIP Panels.

Click here to see more photos in our Facebook album.

This technique in turn influenced other construction companies in surrounding towns. Developers in Solwezi and Kansanshi specifically, conveyed huge interest in this alternate way of development along with contributing positive feedback. In the end Imison declared they were far happier with the stucco sprayers compared to what they had originally started with. Continue reading about SCIP Panel Construction…

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 →

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

Related Stories

Thin Shell Construction, Thin Shell Garage

How To Build A Lloyd Turner Balloon Form

Wall & Ceiling Stucco Sprayer

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!

learn more

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.

learn 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

14 Year Old Boy Builds His Own Balloon Home


All kids love to play with balloons. Some like them at birthday parties some like them in bounce houses.

Nolie Scheid, 14 years old, from Eugene dreams of having his own balloon home. On a sunny day in Oregon he gathered the few materials needed; Vinyl, wood, tape, and set out to make his dream come true. With the help of his family Nolie cut out eighteen vinyl gores, that when placed intricately together, formed a dome shape. He then made a curved brace out of two by fours. Then taped each of the pieces together. Here is a photo of the last two pieces being taped together.

Air Form

Here is a photo of the final product, blown up %90 of the way.

DIY Air Balloon

Nolie will combining this with another smaller balloon form to make his own thin shell dome home!

Stay tuned for more updates as he progresses.