Mezcla! ~ Walls Around The Staircase!

When a crew gets together to do a repello (stucco) job, they break into two groups. One group will mix the mortar and the second group will place the mortar. When the second group runs out of material, someone will lightheartedly yell out, “MEZCLA!” (mortar mix!), urging the delivery of more mortar. If everyone is getting tired, the mixing crew may yell out, “NO!” or “MANAÑA!” but will of course they will mix as fast as they can. Same goes for a concrete job.

And so it went this last week. Armando, Alex, and new guy Beto started the first coat of repello on the foam building panels that were already in place at the outside of the staircase. While they worked, Aramis and I placed more foam panels. He and I also used our ubiquitous 2″x2″ tubing to make railings at the tops of the walls. We welded short pieces of rebar to the tubing; the rebar will be firmly embedded into the mortar to hold the railing in place:


No, Kilroy wasn’t here. That’s Armando’s hand — he is stuccoing the other side of the wall.

In the next photo you can see that the first of two coats of repello is completed on the outside of the angle wall. You can also see that Aramis and I have installed panels that will make the loft railing. Note the holes in the panels — Aramis and I welded two-inch pieces of rebar to the container wall and pressed the foam over the pins. Then we welded scrap pieces of flat stock to the rebar and used baling wire to tie the foam panels to the flat stock:


Armando and Beto worked hard while Alex tried to keep up. “MEZCLA!”


Aramis and I stayed ahead of the mud men. After the first coat of mud, we put wooden strips at the edges of the walls. These strips set the thickness of the second coat of mezcla:


The second coat on the outside of the angled wall is just wooden floated (and not steel troweled smooth) because we won’t be painting the wall. More in a future post…

Aramis and I installed the panels in the half bath under the stairs:


We had a fan blowing to extract the welding and foam fumes.

Meanwhile, the mud men applied the second coat to the big wall:


Aramis and I were caught up, so he joined the mud crew, helping apply the second coat to the big wall and making it smooth for painting.

The big wall came out really well and dead straight:


But the stairs are a mess. We will have to use a muriatic acid solution to remove the cement scum from the metal.

The backside of the loft railing wall still needs a second coat:


While everyone else was focused on the big wall, I stole away and erected a few foam panels to make a four-foot by eight-foot closet at the far end of the kitchen:


We will permanently padlock the container end doors closed. We still need to make the door frame and weld some rebar pins to the container to support the foam panels, and then the crew can apply the mortar.

With the mezcla applied to most of the walls, we can now better see the satisfying geometric shapes in this big room. Also, Aramis and I found some time to hang the six sliding door panels in the living room west wall. We still need to order and install the glass. But all in all, we are getting quite close to being able to lock the entire house!


I took this photo from the stair landing that leads to the second bedroom.

In other news, I am thankful that we have so much inside work during these heaviest rains of the rainy season. By the way, when it stops raining, the water recedes as fast as it came:


And finally, The Trash Report — It has been many months since we have generated any real trash. Here is the spoil from the current job:


Two plastic bags of scrap foam and a small pile of foam panel scrap await the Thursday morning trash pickup. Yes, we have had some metal scrap, but it all went down the mountain to the recycle scrap yard.

And wow, I just noticed that the hit counter at the right of the page has passed the half-million page hits count. The most searched for phrases have been DIY sheet metal brake, cutting shipping container walls, and installing doors and windows in shipping container. I’m happy to have shown people what has to be the hardest way to build a shipping container house!

That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

6 thoughts on “Mezcla! ~ Walls Around The Staircase!

  1. excellent post as usual , that wall looks very smooth and tidy , how much longer is the wet season there lasting ? . regards to Cynthia , one happy lady from the amount of progress going on , ps , noticed a pair of cast light posts similar to yours , lamps on top identical, not going to mention the price , but consider patting yourself on the back for a very astute purchase , 🙂

    • Hi Mike. Rainy season historically lasts until 15 December. Then occasional rains but mostly dry until mid April or so, maybe the first of May. But November is definitely the wettest.

      Yes, Cynthia is happy. Yesterday we spent some time on the roof deck and didn’t have to climb a ladder to get there! We will start prepping the kitchen for concrete sometime this week, then it is all downhill for another year or so!

      I’m beginning to think I got a good deal on the lamp posts…

      Thanks for your comment Mike, Fred

  2. Really coming together there… Mr. Fred… looking sharp! You really really have an eye for complimentary shapes and designs!

    FYI… mezcla is with a Z… not important but nice to know! 🙂

    Saludos desde Chile!

  3. Again you inspire us and give helpful information, thanks! We are hoping to build a small “dry room” in the center of the house using this method … thanks and we always look forward to your posts! Gracias

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