Friday, December 24, 2010

The final steps on the yellow brick road.

It feels good to be actually finishing projects on the barn lately- this time its the yellow brick road. When standing in the original barn before it was deconstructed in 2007, I always felt that the brick floor gave the building a unique feel. Since the bricks were simply laid on the ground without mortar, it was easy to remove them undamaged, so we saved as many as possible. Some areas were heavily coated with oil and grease from decades of tractor parking, but the majority of the bricks cleaned up nicely using a pressure washer (thanks mom and Lisa!). To incorporate the old bricks into the new floor, I formed a meandering pathway across the new barn slab before the concrete was poured, which looked like this: After the structure was roughed in, I mortared the salvaged bricks into the recessed pathway- it soon became aptly named, the 'Yellow Brick Road". Since the bricks were laid with tight joints, I wasn't sure exactly how to go about the grouting process. Having absolutely zero experience with tile work at the time didn't help- so I decided to leave it 'as is' and come back to it later...that was 2008! Finally, almost two years later, I vacuumed all the debris out of the cracks (which amounted to over 3 gallons of sawdust and wood chips), and got started. I mixed some home brew grout using 2.5 parts sand to 1 part Portland cement- then with my mom's help we worked the powder it into the cracks using an experimental sweeping, rubbing and putty knife-packing technique. This worked relatively well, albeit very messy.
Working in sections, the dry grout was packed into the joint lines, then the excess was vacuumed off the top of the bricks and gently wiped clean with sponges. Once the bricks were fairly clean, I sprayed water over the dry mix using an HPLV sprayer to start the hydration process. We worked from one end to the other in this manner, taking an entire day to do the pathway. I gave the pathway a few more sprayings of water over the next few days, letting the grout set up. Then it required about a dozen moppings to remove the haze of grout that was all over the rough-textured surface (I had put two coats of AFM Mexeseal on the bricks before starting the grouting process, but it didn't seem to help that much). After alot of scrubbing, here's the nearly finished product:
The grout was VERY slow to harden using this method, and required some touch up in certain places where there didn't seem to be enough Portland in the mix for it to set. I changed the sand/Portland ratio to 2:1 for the touch up work and this seemed to be much better...more lessons learned on the rocky road of barn-building.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh my gosh - it looks ready to stay in! The furniture is a nice touch.