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Re: GSBN:mesh reinforcing for earth plasters



Bruce,

We have used fiberglass mesh (think dryvit) extensively in both earthen and lime plasters, and it works great. The tricky part is attaching it to the structure- it needs to be wrapped around a wooden or other strip, and the strip nailed in place. If you just try to staple or nail it, it pulls apart. It's also expensive, about $90 for a 37" by 150 foot roll. But we use it exclusively on exterior transitions between bales and wooden members, because metal lath just doesn't work well around here.

I have mostly used a brand called Fiberlath, but Sto and Dryvit make similar products. The trick is finding a material with large enough openings. The usual synthetic stucco meshes have holes of roughly 1/8"; not big enough. The mesh with larger holes- 3/8 or 1/2"- is usually designated as a "heavy duty mesh." They use it for extra reinforcing of areas that are expected to take unusual abuse, like impacts. You should be able to find it by calling around to masonry supply yards. It's a bit difficult to find out this way (synthetic stucco, thankfully, is one form of uglification that has not caught on in clapboard country) but I think it should not be difficult in CA.

Our usual technique is to spray or trowel on a coat of plaster, work the mesh in, and then apply more to completely imbed it. We do both of these coats at once, because if the mesh is simply troweled into the surface of the first coat, its natural springiness can cause it to jump back out. We also want to make sure that the mesh layer doesn't become the weak point of connection between two coats.

Best of luck,

Paul
--
Paul Lacinski
Amy Klippenstein
GreenSpace Collaborative
Sidehill Farm
PO Box 107
463 Main St.
Ashfield, MA 01330 USA
01-413-628-3800