09 May 2013

The Wall

When we first looked at our house here in Trivigno we imagined removing some of the plaster to expose the stone work we know lies below. We recently undertook this endeavor in our bedroom…in a 300 year old building this is never a simple project.

Valerie’s parents were here at Easter and my father-in-law and I planned to use some of this time to do this project. The walls of our house are up to 3 feet thick and I have access to the back side of our bedroom wall which looked to have stones in reasonable condition and uniformity. Neither of us are novices at do-it-yourself projects, however this presented some issues we both quickly realized would be more than we anticipated

On the left what we initially found.
  We started to remove some plaster and what was exposed looked to me like a problem; a jumble of mixed stones with an irregular plane that had been hidden by various layers of plaster. I was afraid we had opened a can of worms and had visions of potential structural issues. Fortunately our friend Tonino is a structural engineer who has worked on many projects in Trivigno. When I showed Tonino my concerns he assured me that our wall was nothing unusual and was structurally sound. Tonino also recommended that another friend of ours, Giuseppe who has worked on many houses in town, might be able to help with the work.

Giuseppe came by and gave us some insights on preparing the exposed stone to be re-pointed. We removed the layers of plaster, the various types of mortar used over the centuries, cleaned the rocks and filled in the gaps with a base mortar. In this process we also found some of the holes where wood beams had been placed to support the floor above and the remains of a former window opening that we turned into a niche.

The niche
When it came time for the detail work I had Giuseppe come and work with us to repoint the wall. Watching him do this stonework, which he has done for 20 years, was like watching an artist. He could “see” what the wall should look like with specific stones and made several suggestions that were incorporated into the final product.

The work in progress
Once the stone section was done we had to let it dry thoroughly. Valerie was in the US for a family wedding recently so I used this time to finish the project. I applied a sealer to the stone and mortar and again worked with Giuseppe to redo portions of the wall where the plaster was to remain. This requires a couple of very thin layers that must dry before the next one is applied.

Once the plastering was complete I set about to paint the entire room. Remember that this is an old building with walls of plaster over stone – there are no even or smooth surfaces. Two coats of paint later, a lot of cleaning, moving back the furniture and the house was ready for Valerie’s return.

The finished product
As with most projects on a house of this age, the time and effort to do this exceeded what I had expected but we are very pleased with the results.


janie said...

Love this!!! What a beautiful job you did.

Bryan said...

Janie, Thanks we are pleased and our friends have complimented us on the results.

Wayne said...

Great job. Looks really nice.

Maria Berry said...

Favoloso Bruno. Ricordo bene quel muro e la trasformazione e' incredibile. Complimenti! Maria

Evey said...

I think you found your niche!

Steve said...

What about the guest room?