Sep 302014

RFJ Fireproofing Contractors

Long gone are the days of asbestos fireproofing and all of its ugly side effects.  Today, most fireproofing consists of some type of plaster material, which is why RFJ Meiswinkel is so perfectly suited to apply fireproofing material in any type of project.

Nothing is actually “Fire-Proof”.  Items are classified as “resistant” under various circumstances.  The purpose of “fireproofing” is to make sure that people are able to leave a burning building safely.

Spray Fireproofing

Today’s “fireproofing” is done in several coats, and it is sprayed on until the legal thickness is acquired.

The correct use of a fireproofing gun requires hours of experience

The correct use of a fireproofing gun requires hours of experience

Among the conventional materials used in today’s fireproofing construction are:

Gypsum plasters

Cementitious plasters

Fibrous plasters

Considerable Preparation goes into the project before spraying to insure all items that must be protected are wrapped before the process begins

Considerable Preparation goes into the project before spraying to insure all items that must be protected are wrapped before the process begins

Some products that RFJ Meiswinkel uses when doing spray fireproofing include: Monokote by WR Grace Company , and Cafco 300 by Isolatek.  RFJ Meiswinkel buys their products locally from San Francisco Gravel and Westside Building Materials.



Aug 112014


A stucco exterior on a residence

A stucco exterior on a residence

Stucco is the common name for cementitous Plaster and is the plaster product that is applied on the exterior of homes.

It is made from cement materials, sand and water. This is all mixed together to create a slurry. This slurry is applied over a metal lath that allows the stucco to adhere and maintain its strength. However, it can also be applied over concrete, cinder block, clay brick, adobe or even straw bales.

Stucco Application

Stucco is a low-cost finish that is strong and durable, and is usable in most climates. It is fire resistant, can have any color added to it, and allows for a variety of textures.

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 1.59.02 PM

Just a small sample of textures available in stucco.

Stucco Textures

*Stucco Textures
Stucco is usually done in a 3-coat system. Similar to Plaster, which was discussed before, these steps consists of a scratch coat, brown coat, and finish coat. When applied by hand it is done with a hawk and trowel.

Hawk and Trowel application of Stucco

Hawk and Trowel application of Stucco

The scratch coat is applied first to provide a strong base for the system. It’s embedded in metal lath, which strengthens and secures the coat. The brown coat is applied next to create an even surface for the finish coat. The finish coat is applied last, creating the decorative finish on the wall surface.

Stucco Application

Stucco can also be applied via a pneumatic system. This involves a trained person on a sprayer. After the person with the sprayer moves on, a crew with trowels smooth out the stucco and ensure it is pushed into the lath.

Spraying Stucco
While it looks like a simple project to apply stucco, it is more difficult than it appears. The mis-application can lead to cracking, bulging, separating and moisture intrusion, so it is best to leave stucco application to professionals such as RFJ Meiswinkel.

When properly applied stucco will last decades, making it well worth having hired a professional.

Jul 092014
Plaster Walls

Recently, at a conference, I heard the term plaster bandied about in forms that were confusing.  The difference in the use of the words stucco, plaster, and mortar is based more on use than composition. In the industry it is most common to use the word plaster when referring to interior work, stucco when referring to exterior work and mortar when referring to the stuff that goes between bricks and stones.

This post is about plaster, or, in other words, the stuff on the interior of a building.

The two most common choices for wall interiors in a new home is either plaster or drywall. There is also Veneer plaster, and we will be talking about that too.

Many people don’t know they still have a choice or that there is a difference between these three types. We at RFJ would like to let you know that you do have a choice and we hope that this information will help you make the appropriate choice for your situation.

Let us start with plaster. The most common type of plaster used on interior walls in gypsum plaster. This is most commonly done through a three-coat process.

In plaster a lath system first must be secured to the framing of your walls. Historically, lath was made from wood strips, but in modern times you will most likely find metal. This lath gives the plaster something to grab onto.

Metal Lath ready for the first coat of Plaster

Metal Lath ready for the first coat of Plaster

After the lath has been installed the plaster goes on. The plaster usually comes in 50-pound bags and is in a dry powder form. This is mixed with water to produce the proper consistency. While this sounds simple, it actually takes years of practice to get a proper workable consistency.

50 pound sack of Gypsum Plaster

Once the plaster is ready it is applied to the lath. The first coat (called the scratch coat) is applied, and the scratched with a scarifier or scratcher and left to dry.




Scratcher Trowel

Scarifier and Scraper Trowel





The second coat, or brown coat, is then applied. This coat is applied using the same techniques as the scratch coat, however, instead of using a scratcher, an instrument called a darby or a trowel is used. The darby or trowel is used to ensure that the brown coat is even and uniform.

Darby TrowelA Darby

Finally the third coat is applied. This is applied with a hawk and trowel, depending on the finish you desire. The finish can be customized in different ways.

Hawk and Trowel for PlasterA Hawk and Trowel

The advantage of a plaster wall is the thickness; since a plaster wall is thicker than drywall you have improved sound baffling, less likelihood of warping and increased fireproofing. A plaster wall also works best for irregular and rounded surfaces.

Now lets take a look at Drywall. Drywall is also called wallboard, plasterboard, Sheetrock, or just plain “rock”, but we will use the term Drywall. Drywall is made by squeezing gypsum and water between two different layers of paper and then heating. On one side of the paper is the face, which is strong and smooth, the other side, or back, is rougher in texture.

Drywall, Plaster BoardStacks of various types of Drywall waiting for installation on a job

Installing the drywall is quick and easy. The boards are cut to fit and then secured directly to the framing with screws. Next the joints are taped with either a paper or fiberglass-mesh tape at the joints, corners, and places where the boards have been fastened to the walls in order to cover the screws.

Framing for Drywall



Installed Drywall

Then, typically, three coats of joint compound are added. Joint compound comes ready mixed in plastic tubs.

Joint Compound for Wallboard

The wall is sanded after each coat of joint compound to give it a smoother surface. Once the third layer has dried it is ready for paint.

lath and plaster

There are obvious advantages to drywall. First, and most important to many is the process takes less time and manpower, and is therefore considerably less expensive. However, drywall can be damaged easily. Also drywall is susceptible to water damage, thus increasing potential for mold. There are new products on the market to help prevent these mold problems.

Veneer plaster is a cross between the two. Veneer plaster starts with the gypsum board base. This gypsum board, called blue board, has special moisture and adhesive qualities. After the board is installed either one or two coats of plaster are applied very similarly to the way we discussed above in regular plaster.

Plaster Walls

There is an old world charm to plaster walls, but there is also versatility and less cost involved in drywall. At RFJ we proudly do all three types of plaster finishes, and knowing that we have nearly 70 years of experience, you can rest assured that no matter which process you choose, we will give you the highest quality service and product available.