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Perimeter Fence: The Parge

Perimeter Fence: The Parge - Covering the blocks with cement mix

This article is part of a series on how we built our concrete hollow block fence or wall in the Philippines.
More information can be found here: Perimeter Fence Philippines: Index

We’ve covered a lot in this series on how we built our concrete fence in Davao City, Philippines.

This post will include a look at some concrete hollow block (CHB) laying and how the typical wall is finished with a layer of cement known in some places as “parging” or, “pargeting”. There’s a short video of the application technique used to put cement on the wall.

Up To Speed

Perimeter Fence: The Parge - the rear wallChronologically, most of the photos in this post come from the end of January 2015. As I mentioned elsewhere in this series, a little bit of everything is always happening on a project like this. This leaves me to write about processes out of order.

The photo at left is a good example. It shows the rear wall. If you click on it to enlarge it, you’ll see the heights of the block layers on the right side between the columns are different. You’ll also clearly see the workers adding forms for columns that need to be poured yet.

Perimeter Fence: The Parge - the front wallThe fellow in the green shirt is standing on the concrete floor of what used to be an outhouse. It was left over from the previous lot owner. Understandably, the crew waited to excavate that area last. The photo at right, from the same day, shows part of the front wall and a poorly-placed pile of crappy fill dirt.

Our contract with the architect who designed out perimeter fence and house called for the crew to fill and grade the lot inside of the wall. Mounds and mounds of crappy fill earth like this were dumped inside. The foreman had the truck dump this load there because the driveway was cluttered inside. It took the laborers an hour to move the pile using shovels. I felt sorry for them, but at least they had work.

The Parge

Screening Sand

“Parge” is a term I had never heard in America. In fact, I never heard it until Canadian inspector/contractor/television host Mike Holmes used the term in one of his shows.

Perimeter Fence: The Parge - Screened sandBasically, if you’ve seen interior wall plastering done or seen a skim coat being applied to a concrete wall, you’ve seen parging. Here, the parge mix is cement and screened sand. Water is added to the dry mix to a thick consistency that can be “thrown” on a wall with a trowel.

The sand is screened by hand. A simple support, a couple of lengths of wire, a frame, and a piece of screen is all there is to it see photo at left). Shovelfuls of unscreened sand are thrown onto the screen. A worker pushes the frame back and forth and the finest sand falls through. A quick flip of the frame casts the unwanted stones off the frame and the process is repeated. Watch the video below:

The “Flip”

Perimeter Fence: The Parge - The flipAfter the sand is mixed with cement and water, the masons “flip” it onto the surface with trowels. An experienced finisher has good aim.

After it sets up a bit, they go over it with flat wooden floats and a length of coco lumber, using it as a screed, as needed. Once the surface is reasonably smooth and even, the masons will apply a final coat of thin mix over top of the base. Once that dries some, it is finished very smooth with a sponge and water.

I shot the video below when a mason was working on the back of our bathroom wall during our house construction. You can see how he works the mixture and flips it just where he wants it.

The Parging’s Over

parging_04You can see from the photo at left just how thick a coat of parging is here in the Philippines. At almost three inches, this coat is the reason you will hear that everything is OK during the construction and will be “fixed later”. Sloppy block work, suspicious concrete, and bad measuring are all hidden behind a thick layer of cement. In the end, it all “looks good”, so why worry?

I hope you enjoyed this post, Perimeter Fence: The Parge. If you have questions or comments, please use the Comments section below.


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