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Foundation Parging

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Parging is the process of plastering the foundation with concrete. Really it is the same as stucco; water, sand, lime and cement are mixed and troweled onto the foundation wall surface. It is used as a decorative coating to hide imperfections in the foundation surface. Block foundation walls look look more attractive after parging. Concrete foundation walls may show honeycombing roughness and rusted foundation ties. Parging helps to give it a clean consistent appearance.

The process
Dirt and debris should be cleared away from the foundation to a depth of 4"-6" below finish grade.
The surface needs to be clean and dry. All paint and foundation tar should be ground off the foundation.
It is a good idea to moisten the foundation surface with water. The reason this is done is so that the foundation will not suck the water out of the plaster and cause it to weaken.
There are several types of mixtures used for parging. Type "N" mortar or pre-mixed stucco can be used. Or you can mix your own combination of sand, lime and cement. A mixture of 1 part cement with 3 parts sand and 1/4 part lime is common.
The stucco mixture is applied to the wall with a hand trowel. The wall surface is then allowed to dry. It is important to help the plaster to cure by moistening with water during the next several days.

Cultured stone and Tile
Another foundation treatment that is gaining a lot of popularity is the use of cultured stone and tile.
Cultured stone is a man-made stone made from light weight cement and sand. It is colored to look and feel like real stone. The thickness of cultured stone usually varies from 1"-2". It doesn't need horizontal support like real stone and easily attaches to the foundation with mortar.
Ceramic tile is used more than ever for a foundation treatment. Like cultured stone, it is attached to the foundation using a cement based adhesive.

Notes to the owner-builder
Foundation parging is not required by code, although it may be required by subdivision building covenants. Many owner builders will often put off this task until later, and they often do it themselves.

It's important to remember that the plaster will not make a lasting bond with the foundation wall if the following conditions are not met:

  • Plaster must be applied in moderate weather, not freezing conditions.
  • Surface should be moistened before applying mixture.
  • The surface must be clean and free from paint, tar and oil, etc.
  • The curing process must be facilitated by moistening periodically for 7-10 days.
  • The mix must contain the correct ratios of sand, cement, water and lime.

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