Face Lift

We finally gave the house a facelift.  Truth be told, I’m the one that really wanted one, but we flipped a coin and the house won.  So our last ‘outside’ project was finally completed when we stuccoed the old homestead this summer.



The process takes about 10 days and goes something like this:

  • Cover the house in 4 x 8 sheets of 1” thick Styrofoam.
  • Cover the Styrofoam with about a miles’ worth of chicken wire.
  • Apply more Styrofoam bars of varying thickness and length to create ‘pop-up’ frames around windows and doors and other accent areas and cover with more chicken wire.
  • Apply the first coating of cement-like stucco to the house.
  • Apply another coating of stucco and trowel it for texture.
  • Let it age for two or three weeks then come back and paint.

The first three days involved lots and lots of hammering.  Hammering the Styrofoam sheets to the house.  Hammering the chicken wire to the Styrofoam.  Hammering the pop-outs around the window and door frames.  Hammering more chicken wire to the pop-outs.  It wouldn’t have been so bad had we been able to escape the commotion, but we couldn’t leave Mom at home alone to deal with the noise, especially after the end of the first day when she exclaimed, “I think they’re pounding on every single nail in the house.”

It was not a happy few days for any of us.

When the crew showed up each morning around 7:00, the first thing Mom asked when she woke up was, “Are they done yet?”  I’d tell her no and then explain the process.  Then, after her morning snooze in the ‘lay-down’ chair (don’t ask me how she could sleep through the clamor, but she did) she’d ask, “Are they done yet?”  I’d say no and once again explain the process.

She would eventually eat her lunch of rice cakes and Slimfast chocolate yumminess and ask once more, “Are they done yet?”  I’d say no and once again explain the process.  After lunch she’d take her afternoon nap and, after she got up, she’d ask, “Are they done yet?”  And again, I’d tell her no and one more time explain the process.

Finally, around 4:30, Mr. Barraza and his men would pack up and leave for the evening, and one last time for that day, Mom would ask, “Are they done yet?”  I’d say no and head for the bar.



On day four the actual stuccoing began.  The windows and doors were encased in plastic sheeting to protect them from flying cement.  It was like being trapped inside a murky fishbowl.  We couldn’t see out but we could hear them shoveling sand into the mixer to prepare the stucco, and the sound of wet cement being flung against the chicken wire, all while happily singing along with a Spanish music station on their portable radio.

Bill and I were in the office, listening to the sounds of activity outside and checking email, when Mom called out somewhat frantically, “Patty, come quick!”

I walked into the living room, prepared to say, “No, they’re not done yet,” and explain where they were in the process, but she fooled me with the excited declaration, “I think they’re stoning the house!”

“Stucco, Mom.  They’re stuccoing the house,” I corrected her.

“Same thing,” she countered with a shrug.

“No, I think if they were stoning the house we’d have a few broken windows.

“Not if the rocks and stuff were mashed up,” she argued.  “You know, so they can paint it on the outside.”

“Okay, you’re right,” I conceded with a sigh.  “We’re having the house stoned and now they’re painting on the mashed up rocks and stuff.”




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