marble slab

This Old House: Episode 9 Recap

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After a holiday hiatus, we finally got our first This Old House fix for 2017.

The Arlington Arts & Crafts house is coming along nicely. The new family room addition is framed, as is the second floor addition and the third floor playroom. In this episode, show host Kevin O’Connor and contractor Tommy Silva work on the roof to the new addition. Tommy introduces Kevin to a product called Wacky Wood, which lends itself to the curved shape of the new roof. Regular plywood has multiple thin sheets with the wood grain on the inner sheets perpendicular to the grain on the outer layers. This makes the boards stiff. But the three thin layers of Wacky Wood feature grain running in the same direction, making it pliable to the point of floppiness. It’s perfect for the curved sections of the roof.


In the next show vignette, plumber and HVAC contractor Richard Trethewey takes a field trip to southern Vermont to tour the Danby Quarry, the world’s largest underground quarry. This quarry has supplied marble to the Jefferson Memorial, the Supreme Court, “and thousands upon thousands of kitchen counter tops, just like ours,” Richard pointed out. The Arlington house has ordered its counter tops from the Danby Quarry.

Keith Millard, lead man at the quarry, explains how marble is made. “It’s a metamorphic rock that’s created by pressure and heat,” he tells Richard. Then they check out the variety of saws –including one with a 17-foot blade — and other machinery necessary to cut and move enormous chunks of marble out of the quarry. How enormous? Oh, about 150-ton blocks, Keith estimates.

counter tops

Richard also meets Luca Mannolini, the quarry’s general manager, who comes from Carrera, Italy, home of famous marble. Luca is responsible for choosing which slabs of marble are strong and beautiful enough to become countertops. “I look at the imperfection in the stone, the natural fractures,” he says, contrasting a winning slab with a losing slab. Then Luca and Richard watch an amazing gang saw that can cut up to 80 marble slabs at once, but very slowly. It takes 10 hours for the blade to make it all the way through.

marble slab

Back on the Arlington home front, preservation specialist Sally Zimmerman unveils her top exterior paint color choices to homeowner Emily Deldon. Emily is ready for a change, as she thought the original brown was too dark. Sally first suggests taupe for the shingles, gold for the stucco details and cottage red for the trim.

But Emily quickly vetoes this combination. “It’s too bold for our style,” she says. Sally, clearly a professional, is prepared with a Plan B: a lighter, creamier shingle color, palmetto pink for the stucco and spinach green for the trim. “It reminds me more of a botanical palette, which I like,” Emily says approvingly. However, she requests a deeper color for the shingles.

this old house

Viewers glean insights into the lost art of stucco as mason Mark McCullough demonstrates attaching wire mesh to the soon-to-be stuccoed areas of the house, then using a trowel to slather on the wet cement mixture.

Okay, we saved the best part of the show for last. They’ve completed a tall and gorgeous brick chimney! As our customers know, nothing is dearer to our hearts here at Old World Stoneworks than a cozy fireplace. We’re sure you’ve heard that saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Well, we know that where there’s a chimney, there’s a fireplace. Ideally, one complete with a beautiful mantel surround. Which maybe we’ll see on the show next week?

In the meantime, if you want to improve your old (or new, or medium-aged) house, your friends at Old World Stoneworks are here for all your fireplace beautification needs. Give us a call today!

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