About a year ago I built some interior partitions and wrote about it here. I used steel carriolas (metal 2″x3″s) and a cement board called Plycem. I used Plycem instead of drywall because of the high humidity here in the mountains. These walls were relatively quick and easy, and I used them where sound transmission from room to room was not an issue.
However now it is time to build walls between the master bedroom and bedroom number two, and we want little or no sound transmission between the two.
Of course Armando is most comfortable with concrete block construction, but the weight of the walls would be quite massive and would put too much burden on the support columns. Even he could see that blocks were not viable. We ruled this out.
We decided to use the polystyrene panels covered with a welded wire mesh, locally called M2. I think there has been a re-branding and the name may have changed, but I asked for M2 and the clerk at Hopsa knew what I was talking about. There is a producer in California that calls the product 3-D or Tridipanel. Previously I used this material on the electric service entrance wall and on the two flying buttress columns in the carport.
M2 is wonderfully light weight to work with. Cynthia and I went to the Hopsa store in Penonome, about an hour and a half away. We came home with the pickup stuffed high and long with about 20 sheets and the truck hardly seemed to notice. One person can easily move and place a 4-foot by 10-foot panel. As I was moving a panel I said to Armando, “I’m moving seventy-five concrete blocks with two fingers!”
Armando was cutting grass for the better part of a week, so I worked solo placing the panels. Although the walls go up fast, the tedious part of working with this material is that when it comes time to cut a panel to size, you have to use wire cutters to cut dozens and dozens of wires. I managed to blow out a blood vessel in one of my fingers from the repetitive snipping. Black and blue and OUCH! To cut the underlying foam panel, I found it easiest just to use a hacksaw blade. When joining panels, you use special crimping pliers and small wire crimps to join wires from the adjoining panels.
We are installing these new walls in the space between containers 3 and 4 and in number 4. The big space that we are dividing with walls will delineate the two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and the laundry room. Here is a photo of the first wall all braced and ready for stucco on the opposite side:
Here is the same wall from the other end:
Installing plumbing pipes and electrical conduit is a breeze. Just pass a heat gun or propane torch over the polystyrene and the heat melts a nice groove behind the metal mesh. Then just thread the pipes behind the mesh. It all disappears when the stucco is applied. Here is the laundry room underway:
I have a couple more days of installing pipes and conduits. Then next week when the current spate of national holidays (Day of the Dead where people visit and spruce up the cemeteries, and Independence from Colombia) is over, Armando and another man and I will tackle the stucco. While concrete blocks take just one coat, the M2 takes two. The first coat fills all the voids in the corrugated foam panels out to the level of the wire mesh. The second coat covers the mesh and renders everything straight and flat.
After months and months of building my shop, the carport, Cynthia’s studio, the gardens, and not accomplishing much on the house itself, it is an extreme morale booster to see the walls taking shape. Next on the list will be to complete the windows and pour the floor slabs in this space.
There is talk between Cynthia and myself about moving into this part of the house as soon as possible. We plan to finish the second bathroom and build a camp kitchen. It won’t be fancy, but we will be out of our rental house. That will free up some extra cash every month, Armando won’t have to take time to cut the grass, and it will boost our spirits immensely.
Stucco (“repello” in Spanish) is next.That’s all for now.