Once upon a time…
Once upon a time…
Once upon a time we built our homes and buildings using materials that were close at hand and with labour sourced from our local communities.
Readily available materials such earthen clay, sticks and straw combined with the construction technique called wattle and daub, created light weight walling systems that were easy to work with and provided strong, sustainable shelter. This approach was so successful that the materials and techniques remain in construction use today and many people still live in these buildings, some of which were created thousands of years ago. These early lightweight walling systems were used in a range of buildings, from simple housing to elaborate palaces and cathedrals. Although the scale of the buildings differed, the basic construction techniques remained the same.
In time, more advanced materials were introduced such as hydrated lime and gypsum. These materials formed the basis of many ceilings and walls and became the ‘canvases’ for the great fresco artworks of Renaissance times. This system was known as ‘Stucco’. Unfortunately, in Australia the term Stucco has become confused with ‘cheap or inferior’ walling treatments. This is not accurate and a challenge that ROCKCOTE is addressing.
In earlier times, simple, practical and beautiful design ensured buildings were kept protected from the elements and remained strong, stable and dry. There was no need for modern construction materials such as flexible, polymer water proofers or sealants. During this time, one of the most successful design systems employed was what we now know today as a ‘ventilated cavity’ which allows any moisture present to drain away at the bottom of the wall. Moisture and water were the natural enemies of the great fresco artists and they solved the problem with ventilated cavities (see image).
Many great artists such as Michelangelo used pure coloured oxides painted onto layers of lime plaster or “intonaco” . The carbon dioxide in the air combined with the lime to turn the fresco to stone (calcium carbonate).
The threat of water damage remained a concern so the artists would build ‘curtain walls’ made from reeds and sticks and plastered with lime and horse hair to keep the frescos protected. This time proven, successful method of managing moisture is still utilised in modern building design.
Our story then takes us to modern construction techniques in Australia and the use of fired bricks where double brick and brick veneer retains the use of the ventilated cavity to help control moisture and eliminate damp and mould from forming.
Due to bricks’ very high embodied energy and poor thermal performance, the construction industry is steering away from bricks and looking to new solutions for construction. New challenges are also emerging as a result of modern protective moisture treatments utilized in modern buildings, particularly some new light weight walls. With product lifespans of approximately 5-10 years these synthetic materials are breaking down and water ingress is proving to be an issue.
To counteract this modern dilemma, ROCKCOTE has developed the ‘Thermal Dry Zone System’ which is a return to the common sense approach of simple, practical a beautiful design based on the time honoured construction methodology used throughout the ages. ROCKCOTE’s Dry Zone cavity is incorporated into a modern polystyrene wall which is plastered with reinforced cement render and features a flexible acrylic coloured render and optional membrane over the top.
ROCKCOTE delivers a dry, healthy, strong and lightweight walling system utilising ancient craftsmanship combined with the judicious use of modern technology to create a building solution for the future. You can read more about these systems here
Until next time,