How to lath your house…

Phase 5: Combo and Lath / Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

On November 5th we passed pre-wrap and that night Mike and I boarded a plane to the Dominican Republic. For an entire week neither of us thought about our house. It was heaven.

Well, mostly.

Funny thing is, even when we are on vacation we can’t escape a diy project.

That’s Mike fishing my wedding band from the bathroom sink we dismantled, then put back in place. So gross.

We booked this trip back in February, way before we began this crazy path to self destruction addition.  I’m glad we did, because neither one of us would have planned this trip after we started our project. It felt soooo good to sleep in a bed where I didn’t have to duck and climb over Mike to go to the bathroom. The uninterrupted shower was nice too. But by the end of the week I was really ready to go home. I missed cuddle time with the girls and I missed our trailer. For reals. I missed our home.

We weren’t very surprised when we got home and not a single thing was done. Deep down I was hoping some magical fairy would come and finish our house…or my dad would drop in and lath it. Not so much.

I once worked on an Extreme Home Makeover, it’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished in a week with unlimited resources and funds.

So not our story.

One week of doing absolutely nothing makes it really hard to go all out on the house. I felt like a VW bus at the end of Sunday fun day trudging up a steep hill back home. Friday and Saturday, our friend came by and helped Mike finish our rough plumbing. My dad came out on Saturday and Sunday and directed a couple of loaner lather. Yes, The Captain did make an appearance.

By Sunday night our house was looking more and more complete. And what did I do you ask? Not much. I thought about nailing in all the truss clips that needed to be nailed in, but that was as far as I got with that assignment. In-fact, I’m pretty sure the girls did more construction this past week than I did.

Like the house they built for their “pet” beetle?

I made a solid attempt at plumbing some pex/shark bite connections. That crimping tool is really hard. I look pretty ridiculous trying to crimp those rings. I wouldn’t let Mike take a pic – no one wants to see my poop face.

I made no less than three hundred trips to Home Depot. The great news is: while at Home Depot I ran into our inspector (doing some project of his own – apparently he too suffers from the same disorder as we do) and he said we could call for lath inspection before combo as long as the drywall was loaded in the structure! “Ok,” you say, “so what’s the big deal, I don’t even care what lath is?” That means that we can put up the siding and trim on the front of the house. That means I will finally have a job again. The trim job is my job.

What lath actually looks like – a big black and silver Christmas present:

The back views:

The front:

The front is going to have lap siding, so we will just be putting paper on it, The Captain is coming out this weekend to help us.

Interior before and after lath:
lath6_second_story_addition  lath5_second_story_addition

Lath is the first stage of stuccoing a house. It starts with a wire that is strung in a zig zag pattern along exterior studs that do not have shear wall for the paper to back up to. Then, paper is applied over the wire or shear wall with staples. This paper has to be a specific poundage based on the job’s unique needs. Next can either be more wire or sometimes foam and then wire. We chose the to go the OG route and have paper and then mesh wire. There is even paper with wire attached already this is called Grade D. Did I lose you yet? I’m boring myself…


So how exactly do you lath a house? Well, I’ll tell you how I do it. I call my dad and a couple of local lathers who all get together and do it for me. If you are really good at wrapping really big presents, you may be able to lath a house. However, IMHO, and as the daughter of a plastering contractor, have a pro do your lath/stucco job. This is the outside of your house and the most exposed part of it. It should be done right by someone who has done thousands, and in my dad’s case hundreds of thousands of jobs. Aside from paper poundage there are special pieces of metal such as L metal, J metal, rib lath and corner-aid that all have specific spots they need to go – and that is just the lath part…don’t even get me going on the plaster. Remember how I said in construction sometimes you just get lucky? Having the right connections is part of that, I’m just lucky The Captain is my dad.

The key to any diy job –  particularly one as large as ours, isn’t so much doing everything absolutely all by yourself, it’s using everything you have at your disposal to get the job done…whether it’s as small as a text to your close friend the electrician for advice or a drop in by your friend the plumber who works for pizza and beer and the occasional trip to La Cocina. It takes an incredible amount of trust in the people around you that they will help you out and a great deal of knowledge that the job is getting done right. Do I have all that knowledge? No, but I’ve got a pretty awesome husband and google.

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