It's Sunday now.
My whole body is aching.
Yesterday I had my first attempt at screeding.
I had no idea how much hard work it is. Just an area 2m by 3.5m took me all day
I was out on site by 6.30 am.
The first task was to temporarily re-erect the shower screen and take very accurate measurements of its foot print. I allowed an additional 10 mm for a layer of tiles on the wall (7.5mm thick tiles plus 2mm of adhesive)
Then I cut out a template for the footprint using some spare cement sheetings. I also cut out a hole in the centre of the template so that it would drop on top over the shower waste pipe.
The shower waste pipe comes up through a 20 cm square void (to allow some movement if fitting a fibreglass shower cubicle). I packed this full of damp sand and tamped it down vigorously with a piece of 4 x 2 timber.
I had asked Laurent to do some research for me - so I knew the ratios of cement to sand that I would need for a screeding layer. Also, the forums talked about squeezing the cement in to a ball in your hand - if it did not fall apart then the cement had enough moisture. Ie the screed layer is very dry.
I brought my little yellow cement mixer and set it up on top of some boxes so that I could wheel an ordinary wheelbarrow in underneath.
I also prepared two buckets of Bondcrete mixture - one at 1 to 10 (dilute) and one at 4 to 1 (strong). The idea is that the strong solution is applied to the substrate just before working the screed over the top. The dilute solution is intended to be used in the cement mix. However, I found that the 1 to 10 mixture was using up the Bondcrete at a terrifying rate ($70 for 4 litres) and after some discussions with the hardware I decided to just use ordinary water in the mix.
Unfortunately, when I had someone doing some work for me two years ago, they overloaded the mixer, almost burning out the motor and weakening the machine.
I found that it was only capable of producing one bucket of mixture at a time.
With the start of the job being very slow and fiddly, I started to panic that the cement would cure before I had a chance to scrape back around the floor waste.
I soon realised that I would be here forever using the small, damaged mixer.
I rang Linda up to ask her to go around to the hardware and pay for a 2.2 cu ft cement mixer.
Strangely enough, Linda was just walking in to the hardware when I rang. Once payment details were organised, I sent Laurent off in my utility to pick it up.
Within an hour we had the new mixer up and running.
It was a large, unexpected expense, but I couldn't see any other way of getting the job done.
After some experimenting , I handed the mixing job over to Laurent and he performed miracles - keeping me constantly supplied with barrow loads of cement while I concentrated on the screeding.
It all came very close to disaster - if there had been much more delay I would have had to cancel the pour and scrape out the cement already placed.
The first step in the screeding job was to establish correct levels in one of the corners. Both walls dropped down in the corner as could be clearly seen in the uneven gap below the cement sheeting and the floor.
I laid and leveled screed until it lined up with the bottom of each sheet then covered it with a protective metal strip - this then formed the level that I could work off.
Once I had the first metre of screed laid, I carefully placed the shower template on to the surface, climbed on to it and then scraped and floated a gentle local grade in to the floor waste. I needed to see the shower template at the same time as I knew that the shower came up very close to the floor waste.
The next 50% of the job went quite routinely.
However, as I approached the final edge I realised that had to start using a very long screeding pole and to start pulling from the back corner instead of merely proceeding sideways.
I also discovered another slope at the final wall.
This would have sent any water in to the next room - so again I was forced to set up a new level and protect it with strip metal.
I eventually finished at 8.30 pm, washed up and then had a rest. I had been screeding continuously since 10 am in the morning - so I had been going, without a break for 10 hours.
It is now two days later - I have been back to check the final result.
I was concerned that all I would have would be a soft, sandy, loose finish - but it turned out to be very hard.
It is a bit shiny (which I will seek advice on) but it has plenty of texture in the surface - should bond well to the tiles.
Many thanks to Deborah also - I only just noticed the huge pile of bricks she moved and stacked.
Plus mixing up Bondcrete solutions and many other tasks.