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

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