Rendering is a great way to renovate and improve the visual appeal of your garden wall(s). It also makes the wall more durable and resistant to the effects of weather elements and gardening activities. However, rendering can be expensive. A professional job costs £35-£65 per square metre.
The mortar makes up only about 45-60% of rendering costs. So DIY rendering is a great way to save money. Plus, if you have the right guide, your work doesn’t have to be slower, worse or less aesthetically pleasing than a professional rendering job. As long as you can get the right tools, supplies and experience, you can render a garden wall (or any wall) by yourself.
However, experience is almost as important as equipment and supplies. Because rendering can be more complicated and demanding than expected. Experience builds technique and patience. These two are crucial if you want a good, aesthetically pleasing, durable render.
This blog post will talk about everything you need to know about DIY rendering. It will cover types of render, their pros and cons, and how to mix and apply render. So, read on if that’s the kind of information you are looking for.
Types of render
Choice of render is just as important as rendering technique. It determines durability, water resistance, colour and texture. Even the price is not left out. Depending on who you ask, there are about 6-8 types of render. We will only discuss 4.
- Cement render: This is the most affordable, common and traditional type of render. It is made by mixing cement and sand. You can also add colour or use coloured cement to improve visual appeal.
- Lime render: It is more expensive, but it has a few advantages over cement. Lime-based render is more durable and less prone to cracking. That’s because it allows trapped moisture to evaporate. This quality is known as “breathability”. Because lime render is breathable, there is less cracking and moulding. However, it doesn’t dry as fast as cement render. Finally, lime render is also better for the environment.
- Acrylic render: This is made from acrylic resin. Therefore, it is also more flexible, durable and water resistant than cement render. You also won’t have to worry about cracking.
- Silicon render: This type of render is also breathable, water resistant and environmentally friendly. It is also very low maintenance.
Apart from these 4, other types of renders are polymer and monocouche. There are various options. Ask someone at the local store or a tradesperson for advice if you get overwhelmed. But just so you know, cement and lime-based renders are the best options for garden walls.
What equipment do I need to render a garden wall?
You can buy or rent the necessary equipment. There are no rules. We only have two tips. Tip 1, get all the supplies and tools before starting. Tip 2, clean the tools as soon as you are done. They will be much harder to clean if you wait too long.
Here are what you need:
- Rendering mortar
- Sharp sand
- Mixer (preferably electric)
- Mixing bucket
- Bristle brush
- Plastering hawk
- Screen batten (preferably wood)
- Rendering float or a sponge
Now that we covered the types of render and the supplies you need for the job, here is a step-by-step breakdown of the rendering process.
Step 1: Clear the wall and area
You need to remove everything attached to the wall. Remove vents, boxes, ornaments, etc. You may need the help of professionals like electricians and plumbers. Try to stripe the entire garden wall. It is better to apply the render on a bare wall. You can reattach the removed items later.
You need to clear the area too. So nothing will get in the way of your work.
Step 2: Remove the existing render
If you don’t remove the existing (old) render, the new render won’t adhere to the wall properly. As a result, your work won’t look good or last long. So, use the trowel, a spatula or any other tool to scrape off old render. Try to remove everything.
Step 3: Prepare the wall
This step is a continuation of steps 1 and 2. It can be divided into two stages. Stage one involves further wall cleaning. Remove every bit of old render, dust, dirt, loose brick, and fungus still left on the wall. You can use a trowel, spatula, bristle brush, water (hose), bleach, or fungicide.
Stage two of step 3 involves wall repair. This is the time to fix blemishes, holes, cracks, etc. You will probably need some concrete or even professional help. Step 3 is crucial to the success of a render project.
Step 4: Make the render mortar
For this step, it’s better to follow the directions provided by the render manufacturer. In theory, you just need to mix the render with water (and sometimes sharp sand) to create a clay-like mortar. However, it is okay to deviate from the recommended direction to create mortar with a more suitable texture and strength.
For mixing, you can use any mixer of your choice, manual or electric. We recommend using an electric mixer because it will be easier to get a consistent texture.
Step 5: Apply the first coat of render
You may need to dampen the wall before doing this. This will make the render adhere faster and better. Just dampen the wall a little bit. Too much is almost as bad as none. You should also set up the screen battens, especially if rendering a large wall. They will help with render levelling and work management.
After this, you can start applying the render to that garden wall. Use the plastering hawk and trowel for this. Work from top to bottom, one side to another (aka left to right or vice versa). Try to spread the render evenly. Evenness is crucial to avoid cracking issues later.
You also need to apply pressure on the render. This will encourage it to bond with the wall. Keep the first coat around 5mm in thickness for bonding sake.
Step 6: Apply the top coat of render
Allow the first coat to dry before doing this. It will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then start applying the top coat. You can scratch the surface of the first coat first to improve bonding. Work as you did earlier- from top to bottom and one side to another.
This top coat should be about 10mm thick. That will bring the entire render to 15mm thickness. If you used screen battens, wait for 1 hour before removing them. Then apply render to the spaces they leave behind.
Step 7: Smoothen render
Wait for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Then smoothen (even) out the render. You can use the screen batten or any smooth wooden plank for this. Work in long straight strokes, in the same style as before; top to bottom, one side to another. You may need to apply moisture while doing this.
The point of this step is to touch up imperfections and make the render smooth and even. The air holes will also close. As a result, the render will become firm and waterproof.
Step 8: Finish and float render
This is a continuation of step 7. It involves running a sponge or rendering float over the render. The point is to smoothen out the remaining imperfections and make the render look as professional and attractive as possible.
Step 9: Allow to dry
The bulk of the job is done. Now you wait for the render to dry and cure. It should dry in 1-2 days. Curing will take much longer, about 4-6 weeks. Before the render dries, rain and cold can be devastating. Rain can ruin your entire work by washing off the render. Cold can also do damage by causing the render to thaw and expand, creating gaps for water to accumulate.
Protect your render from rain by covering it with polythene or tarpaulin, and from the cold, by covering it with a blanket or hessian sacks. However, the best solution to fix the project for when there is minimal rain or cold.
Once again, rendering is a great way to renovate an old garden wall or improve the aesthetics and durability of a new one. It works for all sorts of walls, block, stone, brick or clay. If done right, rendering can have an incredible impact on the aesthetics of your garden.
However, mistakes tend to happen with DIY projects, especially ones that require some skill and technique. Wall rendering requires some skill and technique. So, prepare yourself before taking on this project. Do your research. Practice with a smaller project, if necessary.
How long does it take for rendering to dry?
It will dry in 1-2 days, but it needs 4-6 weeks to cure. However, this will vary depending on the render.
Why do I need to ensure the render is even?
Evenness will reduce cracking. Render tends to crack at the joints between different levels of thickness.
Why do I need to wet/dampen the wall when rendering?
This makes bonding easier. If the wall is too dry, it will suck the moisture too quickly, leaving dry render behind. Moisture is the key. However, you will encounter another problem if the wall is too wet.