my birdbath leaks - help

magrit(z7 TN)September 9, 2005

Hi everyone, first off. I feel so lucky to have found this forum, and have been reading current and past postings all summer - it sure seems like a great bunch of folks here!

I am a pretty recent tufa/crete maker, but I've worked with paper mache for years. I always wanted to do outside pieces, and finally the lightbulb went off for me.

I've mostly been doing tufa, planters and such. I have done some carving too, and I will post some pics soon - I've been so busy making I haven't taken time for shooting photos.

Now my problem. I recently decided to try some birdbaths. First I made a tufa one - does not hold water at all. Ok, wrong mix. Then I did one using a mix of 1sand/2perlite/1portland. It holds water, but leaks through on one side. I searched for postings on sealing. I bought the TileLab matte sealer. Two coats did nothing for the tufa bath, ok. But 2 coats also did nothing for the lightweight crete one either, it still leaks just like before!! What am I doing wrong? Oh yeah, my crete mix also included some fibers and about 10% latex paint. I made another dish and base , same mix, which is curing now. Do I need to put a layer of straight portland/sand on the inside of the bowl to prevent leaking? I can't do that on the one I already put sealer on, but I could on the new one. I don't think it's going to hold water either, because I'm pouring water in it when I wrap it up for curing, and when I unwrap it the next day the water is gone. I am so sad and frustrated! Forgive my looong post and try and get this poor newbie on the right track.

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Have you tried wax?

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 11:59AM
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I would think a slurry of portland and (admix or fortifier can't remember which one) on the inside of the bowl to seal it and give it a nice smooth finish. I have only read about this so not sure of the final results.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 2:48PM
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Paws a slurry coat can work great but has to be applied properly or it can flake off.
The biggest problem is 'neat' recipes are horrible for cracking as they dry.
I would reccomend an exterior redimix like Quickwall or another mortar mix that has Superplasticizer already in the bag thus reducing the amount of water needed. This reduces the chance of cracking.

But I still think a few coats of Floor wax is the easier way to go.:)

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 3:20PM
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gardencalligrapher(Zone 7 OR)

Hi "magrit" and others,

When I use a hypertufa to make a birdbath, the easiest thing to make it water proof is to rub dry Portland cement on the birdbath when you unmold it. The dry cement is just sucked right into the hypertufa. If you wait until the piece is dry... just mist it and add the dry Portland cement. The appearance is different than hypertufa...but try it you may like it!! :-)

Nancy, who loves birds and birdbaths!!

PS-my hypertufa mix is 1 part peat, 1 1/2 parts Portland cement, 1 1/2 parts sand & if weight is an issue, 1 1/2 parts perlite. I generally unmold after 24 hours.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 9:45PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Lowes and Home Depot carry a material called water blocking mix or hydraulic water block(or something to that effect)that is sold in the same area in the store where they sell quickcrete, portland cement, sand, etc. and that is made by the Quickcrete people. In my stores the material is sold in yellow tubs with a black lid if memory serves me correctly. This stuff is suppose to be used to stop water penetration through concrete block walls. The material mixes up as a black thick pastey material and it sets up very fast (personal experience talking). Perhaps this could be applied to the bottom of your bird bath to prevent the water from leaking through the structure. Applying it on the outside would prevent having to worry if it was leaching material into the water in the birdbath. Just a thought that I mentioned previously last year but never got around to trying.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 6:41AM
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magrit(z7 TN)

Thanks everyone for the input. I hadn't thought of the wax, I will have to try that. This time though, I put a thin coat of portland/sand mix on the inside of the bowl. I just put some water in it this morning, and that seems to be doing the trick! Maybe it's the perlite that caused the leaking? I don't know for sure, but from now on I think when I'm using my perlite/crete mix, I'll do a thin portland/sand mix on the inside of the bowl right from the start.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 10:50AM
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