Monday, October 02, 2017

Tiki build-along, pt. 10

With the weather cooling off recently--spurred, in part, by a nasty case of Hurricane Harvey--I renewed work on the home tiki bar. Some of this happened before the hurricane struck, but fortunately I was able to batten down the hatches and despite 15 inches of rain over 25 hours and continuous high winds, we suffered no more damage than the big back gate being blown off its hinges. I'll count that as a win. Especially considering so many people in Port Aransas, Rockport, Houston and everywhere in between who lost so much.

Bamboo Ben is fond of saying "No white walls!" when critiquing tiki bars, and while my walls were technically a kind of off-gray, I don't think he'd give me a pass. So I had to do something with that siding if I was ever going to achieve tiki nirvana. What's more, the round porthole window looked pretty nifty when we moved in, but much like the existing ceiling fans, once I started making upgrades, it just looked worse and worse. It would have to go, and go soon if I was going to fix the wall. So one night, on total impulse, I grabbed my trusty crowbar and ripped all of it off the wall.

With that out of the way, I realized that the existing trim had to be dealt with before I put anything up on the wall. The siding and trim is all fiber cement, which is difficult to cut, drill or nail into. On the bright side, it's durable and fireproof. The most expedient way of dealing with the edging pieces was to paint them, so that's the course I charted. I broke out an old roll of painter's tape and masked off the areas I didn't want painted. Yes, it's all to be covered, but why do things half-assed?

The paint color I chose was Olympic "Chocolate Truffle" or some such wacky name. I took a section of my routered baseboard in with me and selected a brown that was the closest match. The dark brown gives the illusion that the fiber cement is real wood, and also ties it in with the baseboards and future trim pieces. It's a unifying color scheme.

And guess what? It looked pretty darn good once I was finished. Better than I expected, honestly. White/gray/beige are inoffensive colors, yes, but goodness, there is no life or personality in them. My patio area looks much nicer, tikiness aside. The downside is that now I have to paint all the 64' of patio space's trim this particular brown. It's not really difficult, but it is time-consuming.

Next up, the wall coverings. Most tiki bars opt for lauhala matting on the walls, but most tiki bars are inside. The classic is the Midwestern basement-turned-tiki. Mine's outside, though. Even though it's a covered patio, I didn't think the lauhala matting would be durable or easily cleaned. I have issues with spiders, mud daubers and the like. Instead, after asking for advice over at Tiki Central, I decided woven bamboo matting would best suit my needs. I ordered several sheets, which arrived rolled up in a tube. I immediately ran into problems. I tried to coat it with some leftover Flood UV weatherproofer I had on hand, cedar color. Well, as I mentioned in my previous build-along post, bamboo has natural resins in it, and as such, does not cooperate with penetrative stains and sealants. The colored Flood blotched up on it and looked terrible. I ended up getting a clear coat UV/waterproofer and recoated the sheets of woven bamboo. It's not a spar urethane varnish, but at least they have some degree of protection. Once all that was taken care of and thoroughly dried, I took measurements and made cuts. One very nice thing about these sheets of woven bamboo is that they are fairly thin and easily cut with a pair of tin snips.

The first section went up quite nicely. Because of the problematic nature of the porthole, I started from there and worked outward. Fitting two half cuts being easier than making one round cut fit, you know. Because the siding is not flat, but overlapping, and also hard fiber cement, I attached cut furring strips in advance (see two images up) so I'd have something to easily attach the bamboo weave to. Once again, I used the heavy-duty stapler with the intent of going back eventually and touching up the staples with tan paint.

I didn't just measure and cut and put it up. I've learned better. Measurements have a habit of lying. I measured, then stapled up the intact sheet, comparing the measurements to the actual sheet-in-context. This also helped me get a feel for the direction the build was going. Plus, I think it looks interesting.

And here it is, with the bamboo matting in place. Looks pretty good, although I'm still a long way from completion!

The cuts to the matting aren't perfect. And even if they were, well, the edges don't look great. So we need to add trim. What kind of trim? Tiki trim, in the form of split bamboo culms! Here's the thing about bamboo culms that I don't think I mentioned in my last installment--the first season of growth, they reach their maximum heigh (more or less). The ensuing years, they develop thicker walls. Which means that although you want mature culms, it's hard to tell the difference between young and old. I got some young ones mixed in with my mature culms. The younger, thinner bamboo splits easily and isn't nearly as strong. I cursed a lot, having to start over several times on some trim pieces. The traditional way to split bamboo is to work down the middle of the culm with an edged blade, such as a machete or the like, but since I'm working with smaller-diameter bamboo, I found I could run it through my band saw just as quickly and control the cut better. So that's what I did.

After cutting a trim piece the proper size, I used my drill to make a pilot hole through the bamboo and fiber cement siding behind. The siding is tough, and there's no way I could force a screw into that without a pilot hole. Not without a lot of effort.

Next, because the screw heads are relatively large, I used a larger bit to cut a countersink hole in the bamboo. This is where I ran into the most trouble. Because some of the trim pieces I was using were thin, they regularly split apart when I tried to make a countersink hole. Thicker pieces were most cooperative. Live and learn.

And then I attached it to the wall with a wood screw, or in this particular instance, a coarse-thread drywall screw (because that's what I had available). I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to cover those screw heads. They're not terribly noticeable, but they're not nearly as obscure as the staples. I've spent this much time and effort on this build-along already, I might as well not stoop to cutting corners now, right?

The bamboo wall panels made a huge difference. It's starting to feel like a real tiki bar now. I like spending time out there, mixing up drinks, using various tiki mugs... but I've come to realize I don't have any good storage space for my tiki mugs or other stemware. This is a serious concern, and one I'll address in the next installment!

Now Playing: Ray Charles Genius After Hours
Chicken Ranch Central

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