This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol5", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
The trade of the plasterer has found considerable scope in Australia, especially for outside work. This is much to be noticed in the brick areas where stone has been too dear to use in a general way for facings. Many fine examples of extensive stucco buildings are to be seen in the cities.
The difficulties of the work differ in degree from those of English work. " Frost," the great enemy of the plasterer, is but little in evidence in Australia, whereas the hot dry weather, and especially the extremely hot winds, create conditions entirely opposed to the execution of sound work in the summer months. A clause in specifying is often worded thus - " No work to be executed on any hot-wind day."
The following may be taken as a brief Specification for general outside stucco in Melbourne -
"Well wet all brick surfaces, and keep work moist throughout. "First coat (floating) to be composed of four parts sharp creek or frankstone sand to one part of approved English Portland cement. "Second coat (finishing) to be composed of two and a half parts of well-washed white fine sand to one part of Alsens (German) cement. "First coat to be 3/4 inch thick, finishing coat 1/4 inch thick. No more stuff to be made up than can be used in one day. "Keep work damp for at least a week after completion. "Model all enrichments in clay, form moulds in plaster, cast and execute in pressed cement, and fix firmly in position on the work. "Run all moulds, cornices, architraves,etc., to detail." For general internal plastering in Melbourne the following Specification may be taken as a good workable one: -
"Laths. - American laths to be used for walls, colonial cut American for ceilings, fixed with 18-inch breaks, and all well nailed with lath nails.
"First coat to be composed of three parts of good sharp creek or frankstone sand to one part of Heads or Waratah lime, run through 1/4-inch mesh sieve, mixed with good long well-beaten cow hair in the proportion of \ bag of hair to 3 bags of lime. "Second coat (floating) to be composed of four parts of sand as above to one part of ditto lime, together with a small quantity of well-beaten cow hair. "Third coat (setting stuff) to be composed of three parts of Lilydale lime to one part of clean white sand, washed through a fine sieve." If work is to be finished very white it is customary to use Lilydale lime and plaster of Paris in the proportion of four parts of lime putty to one part of plaster. This material is also used for running cornices.
All external angles should be backed in with English Portland cement and sand 4 to 1, and finished 1/8 inch thick with pure Keen's cement to smooth faces, as is customary in England.
In present-day practice, stamped embossed zinc and mild steel ceilings and cornices, both imported and locally manufactured, have to a great extent superseded the use of plaster for ceilings. This, together with the increasing use of locally made fibrous ceilings, which are made in sections and screwed in position, has had a marked effect upon the general plastering work, so far as internal treatment is concerned.
Tiling and Slating The roof coverings in most general use in Australia are slates, tiles, galvanised iron, and native wood shingles. Tiles have been manufactured in the country, but the market (which is a considerable one) is held by imported French Marseilles tiles of various brands. These tiles cover well, and have the advantage of securing the passage of air in and out of the roof space. The tiles are set close, to interlock both side and end, and are secured to battens with copper wire, the cost being about 47s. per square for tiles and battens fixed complete.
The best slates are those imported from Wales, both blue and pink, 20 by 10 inches costing about £13 per thousand. Unfading green Vermont (American) slates are also much used, being good in colour for red-brick buildings.
Partly for economy and specially for purposes of water conservation, galvanised iron roofs are largely availed of.
Shingles of peppermint and other splitting gums make excellent and picturesque roof coverings, with their grey weathered sheen, and last for many years. The danger of fire is, however, much against their use in districts subject to the ravages of bush fires.