Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stucco, Bookcase, Stairs

Progress is chugging along, though the schedule has slipped. We're probably looking at another 2-3 weeks before completion. The big excitement of the last couple days is that the exterior scaffolding has come down! Here are some exterior shots.

The bad news is that the scaffolding will go back up after the driveway and exterior stairs are poured! The exterior stucco has proved more challenging than expected, since we're using an unusual product that looks more like a concrete skim coat than traditional stucco; it will probably be the last task completed in the house!

Two interesting architectural features on the interior are complete; a large bookcase, and interior stucco walls. The two-story bookcase forms one side of the stairs, beginning on the first floor and extending up to the second floor to serve as the guardrail. It's built with painted MDF, and the carpenters did a terrific job; I cannot find a single flaw. On the first floor, the bookcase includes a bench area to sit and put on shoes, and has storage below for boots and shoes.

The bookcase is double-sided, with sections alternately open to one side or the other. Here it is rising up the stairs.

And from the second-floor hallway.

This photo also shows the interior stucco, which was an addition to the original plan. The stairs scissor around this wall, and the wall is sometimes indoors and sometimes indoors, so we we decided to extend the exterior stucco finish to the indoors to make the indoor/outdoor transition more seamless.

You can also see the floating stair treads with windows below leading to the third floor. It was a sunny day so the image really highlights the light. The stair treads have an LVL structural core, and are wrapped in strand-woven cross-laminated bamboo plywood from Bamboo Hardwoods. The pieces are mitered together to give the appearance of one thick, solid piece; the treads are attached to the wall using hidden Simpson hardware.

Concrete Floors and Decks

Our house has concrete floors on both the first and third floors. They're not yet complete, but concrete floors are a complex beast so I thought I would post on the story so far. Our goal is to have smooth, subtly reflective, gray concrete floors. We like natural concrete; we're not going for a highly reflective polish, or a sanded look that reveals pebbles and aggregate in the concrete. The first floor slab already looks pretty good, it just needs construction soiling, tape adhesive, etc., cleaned off before applying a penetrating sealer (probably Consolideck LS).

The third floor is three-inch-thick lightweight concrete. Most parts look great, like this:

There are some black splotches, though:

These could be hand troweling marks, or entrapped moisture from the curing process. We're getting some expert opinions, but solutions can include grinding the areas down, or using vinegar to lighten the areas. Once they're resolved, we'll seal the floors and apply some sort of floor wax to protect the finish.

Another notorious aspect of concrete is cracking; contractors will tell you that cracks cannot be completely avoided. We're fortunate to have only hairline cracks, that you can't even feel when you run your finger over them. Here's the biggest one, though it looks much smaller in person.

Moving on to decks. Our biggest addition is that we extended the rooftop deck out on the cantilever. It looks incredible. There's a whole lot of deck up there, which is important since we have a very small yard.

Next week the metal railings will go in, so it won't look quite as open. But it will be much more safe.

We also have a deck off the kitchen. Between the cedar siding and cedar decking, it feels like a cozy wood lodge up there.

The downside of all this cedar is that it has to be maintained; sanded and stained every 1-2 years. We're using a Sikkens stain. But it looks incredible so far, as did the view today!