I don’t know about you, but most of the contractors in the city of Albuquerque are starting to feel squeezed by the building slowdown which has been in progress around the country for several years now.  We used to have the luxury of turning down requests to acid stain backyard patios and garages, preferring the working conditions and artistic scope of indoor jobs. Now we have to settle for whatever small jobs we can get.

As you may know, the Southwestern style of  building involves a great deal of adobe, most of it an imitation latex product called Sto, which is full of coarse sand grains and looks like adobe, but which easily absorbs our acid stain. We can etch stain out of real adobe with an acid-water solution, but not with Sto. This means that before patio staining we must protect adjoining house walls from the ravages of our stain.  We’ve been using colored duct tape pressed down along the bottom edge, but it is hard to get it to adhere well, especially if the stucco is very grainy.

Mold Builder Liquid Latex Rubber

When I was in New Zealand working in Roy’s studio, he introduced me to a great product called liquid latex rubber. Various companies produce it and sell it in cans to artists who wish to create their own molds for casting. This is what Roy was using it for. He would go to a beach when the tide was out and paint on several layers of the viscous yellow substance, allowing it to dry in the sun between coatings. Soon he could peel the entire mass up starting at one corner and voila, he had his own homemade texture mat for stamping the surface of freshly laid concrete to replicate whatever stone surface he’d selected.

We found that it made an excellent resist material on our art boards.  You can apply it to a stained and cleaned surface or an unstained one – it will completely block any acid stain which you apply to the board. When you want to remove it, you start at the edge and peel it up easily like a thick rubber cement. The surface underneath will be pristine and ready to receive a contrasting stain color or clear sealer. The liquid latex rubber leaves no residue.

Here we are applying it to the central petal of a flower design (which we will later dye violet) and around the outer edge of two petals into which we will brush blue dye.

You can order liquid latex rubber through www.tapplastics.com. They call it Mold Builder.Here we are applying it to the central petal of a flower design (which we will later dye violet) and around the outer edge of two petals into which we will brush blue dye.

We had a large patio job to do and rather than struggle with the colored duct tape, which always ends up lifting off before the job is done, I asked the homeowner if we could experiment with some liquid latex on his walls. We applied about four square inches as a test and left it for two days, then peeled it off. There was a very faint line where the latex had been, but it was not due to any damage to his stucco wall—we had simply removed a layer of dust and dirt!

Before scrubbing and staining the patio we applied two inches of latex all around the lowest edges of the walls. When it had dried we put masking plastic over it using the usual masking machine loaded with tape. The tape adhered well to the latex since the bumpy sand grains were smoothed over by the latex. We still used colored duct tape to pin the upper edge of our masking plastic two feet up the wall. Our masking remained up for the four days it took us to scrub the patios, stain, rescrub, and apply two coats of masonry sealer. Since then we have found that the latex rubber requires an overnight dry time if the temperature is around freezing. In the summer it will dry in an hour. I am thrilled to have finally solved the stucco problem which had been plaguing us for 3 years on outdoor jobs.