Creating Decorative Styrofoam Columns

Project: Storm-Ready Design, Episode 6, Part 1

Jesse Gonzalez from Mercedes Homes shows Bob how faux columns wrap supporting pillars to give this Florida home a Mediterranean flair. The Styrofoam pillar halves come hollowed to fit the four-by-four post and are filled with adhesive foam to seal it tight. Styrofoam rings finish the columns, which are sprayed with a textured acrylic that is painted to match the house. Blue Haven Pools sprays on and shapes a gunite pool in the back yard, where Tom McNealy explains how the form is first laid out and with two by fours for support and paper-backed mesh to hold back the soil and shape the pool walls. A dry sand and concrete mix is then pumped from a batch truck and mixed with water at the nozzle by an applicator who sprays six inches of gunite across the base and walls. The crew shapes and smoothes the walls, and forms the stairs by hand. Bob finishes in the master bath where an acrylic jetted soaking tub is installed on a bed of sand for a solid seat. This tub is self-draining with rigid PVC pipe that can be cleaned with a bleach and water mixture. It comes ready to install for around $700.
Part 1: Creating Decorative Styrofoam Columns
Bob looks at the exterior design elements on the Punta Gorda house with Jesse Gonzalez of Mercedes Homes. Bob mentions the Tuscan feel evoked by the dormered overhangs with arches and faux columns. Gonzalez shows Bob the support stringers for the soffits that will have a brown finish to match the roof drip edge. They then move to a mirror arch and overhang with bearing posts made with four-by-four lumber. Gonzalez and his crew have pre-formed Styrofoam columns that are made in halves and fitted exactly to the post. The crew fills the inside of the column half with expanding adhesive foam and fits it to the back of the post. They fill the gaps between the post and column with adhesive foam then marry the second half in the same fashion. The two sides are then held together with bungee cords to set for an hour. Styrofoam rings are cut to form decorative bases or capitols for the columns. Two rings are set on the top and bottom with the adhesive foam. The entire column is then sprayed with a textured acrylic that will be painted to match the house. These custom decorative elements only cost about $40 to $50 apiece, but unify the design and provide decorative cladding for the bearing posts. Since they are light and well affixed, these columns are unlikely to break free in high winds but can be damaged by wind-borne debris.
Part 2: Building a Gunite Cement Swimming Pool
Part 3: Installing a Soaking Tub With Jets
When hurricanes strike again and again, as they did in Florida in 2004, the effects are devastating. Bob Vila and crew work to completely rebuild a damaged house, using new standards for storm-ready housing. Along the way, Bob investigates a home's vulnerabilities in extreme weather and learns why some building systems fail and others succeed.

Also from Storm-Ready Design

  • Episode 1 - Rebuilding to Beat a Hurricane


    Bob is in hurricane battered Punta Gorda, Florida, to build a storm-ready home in Season 1 of Bob Vila. Bob visits two homes in the same neighborhood, one that was completely destroyed by Hurricane Charley in August 2004, the other that was built to exceed hurricane codes and was left unscathed by hurricane winds and water from the same storm. Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes shows how enhanced building practices and technologies can create a storm-resistant home, while Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and Secretary of Community Affairs Thaddeus Cohen discuss rebuilding Florida. Building inspector Randy Cole and Mercedes Homes’ Jesse Gonzalez review the site and watch the pour of a three-stage steam wall that sits below grade and ties the slab foundation to the ground. The resulting foundation will resist water penetration from storm surge by allowing water to move around the foundation without encountering entry points. Bob reviews the house plans with Scott Buescher of Mercedes Homes and learns how the house is constructed as an integrated system. Building connections are emphasized and reinforced rebar and steel mesh are extended from the stem wall to the roof line in preparation for the solid concrete pour that will form the exterior walls.
  • Episode 2 - Building a Reinforced Concrete House


    Bob recaps construction of the stem-wall foundation and integral concrete slab, the vertical steel reinforcing, steel mesh, window bucks, headers, and spacers put in place for the cast-in-place concrete walls. Cameron Parker and the crew of Solid Wall Systems spray the aluminum wall forms with an organic oil spray to prevent adhesion from the concrete and set the forms for the pour. Bob joins Wayne Sallade, Charlotte County Emergency Manager, to review cleanup, demolition, and repair one year after Hurricane Charley. sallade explains that housing built in the 1960s through the 1980s, before the Florida Unified Building Code, had stick framing, gable roofs, and siding. "It didn't stand a chance," he says. Looking at surviving 1920s Florida architecture, it's clear that unified construction, concrete walls, protected windows, and hip roofsare the way to design wind-resistant homes. Back on site, bob watches the pour, learns how the walls and window openings will be vibrated to eliminate voids, and sees the bracing set to hold the walls square before leaving the site to let it cure overnight. Once the forms are removed, Jesse Gonzalez explains how a traditional three-coat Florida plaster job will complete the exterior once the structure has cured for two weeks.
  • Episode 3 - Building a Storm-Ready Roof


    This episode of Bob Vila will focus on roofs, how they are built and tied down to keep structures safe. Leslie Chapman-Henderson from FLASH, the Federal Alliance for Safe Housing, explains how FLASH brings information about safe housing technologies and practices to homes across America, to protect them against floods, winds, hail, and wildfires. Chapman-Henderson explains how a connected house works as a system to beat back the pushing and pulling forces of wind. Randy Shackelford of Simpson Strong-Tie shows Bob the embedded truss anchors that will tie down each truss member of the roof framing, as well as retrofit tie-downs and heavy connectors designed to fight wind uplift forces. Jesse Gonzalez walks Bob through the steel-framed interior that has a master suite and bath, and lots of open space. Bart Cox of Hanson Roof Tiles brings factory-extruded cement clay-look tiles that are pre-drilled for mechanical installation. Dave Peck of D. Peck Roofing explains that stiffer 5/8-inch plywood sheathing, 30 pound felt that is nailed, hot mopped with asphalt, and covered with 90 pound felt makes a strong, water-resistant roof deck for the tiles. Metal nailer boards keep cap tiles in place when wind strikes.
  • Episode 4 - Impact-Resistant Windows for a Storm-Ready Home

  • Episode 5 - Storm-Ready Doors, Fiberglass Wallboard, and Power Backup

  • Episode 7 - Storm-Ready Stucco Paint, Foyer Tile, and Textured Finishes

  • Episode 8 - Concrete Color Staining, Soffits, and Energy Efficiency

  • Episode 9 - Kitchen Finishes for the Storm-Ready House

  • Episode 10 - Pool Deck, Toto Washlet, and Wind-Proof Garage Door

  • Episode 11 - Sustainable Landscaping, Water Use, and Termite Control

  • Episode 12 - Hurricane-Safe Pool Structures, Pool Mechanicals, and Safety

  • Episode 13 - Surge Protection, Plumbing, Bamboo Blinds and Garden

  • Episode 14 - Completing the Punta Gorda Storm-Ready House



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