Large Hypertufa or Concrete Leaf – Reinforcement Options?

What Can Be Used to Add Inner Reinforcement
to Large Hypertufa and Concrete Leaf Castings?

I received an email from Jill M. asking me:

Hi Claudia,

I get your emails about gardening, concrete projects and many other things. I have a time sensitive question that I am hoping you can address either personally or in one of your mass mailings. There may be others out there with similar questions, especially this time of year – with fall and frost rapidly approaching.

I grew for the first time this year a plant called Thailand Giant Calocasia. Here’s a photo of it:

Living in Ohio, I did not expect it to do as well as it did. At present writing it is 7 ft. tall and still sending out new leaves even in mid September. It’s massive. Almost 40″ across by 4 ft. long.

My dilemma is reinforcement for a leaf casting. I have done large hosta leaves with 18 gauge florist wire as reinforcement, but I have not attempted anything this large. Do you have a blog or posting about actual rebar use? I can only guess this will be over 100 pounds with just the amount of portland and sand I will have to use.

I appreciate any help or direction you can give me, time is of the essence, it’s getting very cool at night here in Ohio. Frost is surely on its way.

Thankx for your help,
Jill

My reply:

Hi Jill:

I’m swamped – but want to reply to you, if even briefly, due to where you live and the time of year.

Anyway … I have written a little about rebar – please use the search box here on my blog and it will give you the results.

But in your situation, rebar “could” work, however you’d have to get it welded into whatever shape you want.

I think a better method for either a hypertufa or concrete leaf casting would be to use a very heavy gauge wiring/mesh, like hardware cloth. Hardware cloth would probably be a good option for you, and it certainly would be easier to work with than rebar. Check at Lowe’s or H-Depot to see if they have a heavy mesh wire – they should. It is normally sold in a coil. (Use Google images to see what it looks like if you’re not familiar with this product.)

I’m not referring to using 6×6 wire mesh as this type would have openings too wide. You want a rather closed-mesh, but sturdy, wire. Apply a thick enough layer of your ‘tufa or ‘crete recipe, then lay down the wire mesh on top if it – kind of “squish” it into your wet recipe – and then apply the rest of your mixture.

You could also use strips or large sections of hardware cloth. Use sturdy wire cutters to cut it and protect your hands! Wear heavy gloves as the cut ends of this wire can poke holes easily into fingers or hands.

Does this make sense? Hope so.

Oh … please keep us posted and send along some pics to me of your finished project – I’ll be happy to post them for everyone else to enjoy. Add in any trials or troublesome issues your encountered or helpful tips for successful leaf casting.

Good luck – sounds like a fun project!

Comments

  1. Donna Riggall says:

    We use polypropylene fibers from Nycon in our large concrete pieces. They are used to replace rebar in road construction and buildings. I’m attaching a link below. On the site they explain why these fibers are better to use than fiberglass fibers. Hope this is useful.
    http://www.nycon.com/ncwp/products/polypropylene-fibers/

  2. Hi. I use fiberglass reinforcing mesh, purchased from mesh depot on line……….
    it comes in different weights and is very handy for reinforcing my birdbaths and fountains as well as my large leaf projects. It cuts with scissors, and does not make you bleed!

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