Creating Smooth Stucco Walls in Cold-Storage Area

U.S. food supplier's maintenance team subdivides large freezer in less than a month.
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Coast Packing Co. is all about enhancing taste and quality in food. An integral part of Southern California’s restaurant, baking, and food industries, the company is the number-one supplier of animal-fat shortenings in the western United States. Within the industries it serves, Coast Packing is known for its line of quality shortenings and oils, backed by both superior service and unsurpassed value.

When the company made plans to convert a large industrial freezer area into three smaller freezer rooms at its Vernon, Calif., headquarters, the owner specified smooth stucco walls. Coast’s maintenance department needed to build and finish the stucco walls with materials that could withstand cold-storage temperatures during placement as well as after.

The freezer area’s temperature, typically 35 degrees Fahrenheit, could only be raised – at most – to between 45 and 60 degrees for a short period of time during construction. For this reason, the maintenance department chose to use fast-setting hydraulic cement-based products that would take less time to harden in colder temperatures than traditional stucco products. During product selection, the company worked closely with CTS Cement to ensure the right materials were used. Paco Calvillo, CTS Cement’s Los Angeles territory manager, recommended Rapid Set® Stucco Mix for the scratch and brown coats and Rapid Set OnePass® wall repair and joint compound for both the final coat and as a coating for already standing walls to blend old surfaces with new.

Stucco Mix is a premium blend of Rapid Set® Cement, quality plaster sand and high-performance additives that can be used where accelerated set times, higher strength, superior durability, minimal shrinkage and reduced cracking are desired. Contractors can scratch, brown, and apply color coat the same day. OnePass is used for general construction and repair of plaster, smooth stucco, and many other surfaces. Contractors can apply in one coat, sand, and paint in 90 minutes. Because it is also mold-resistant, OnePass was an ideal choice for the cold food-storage room project.

The scope of work included building two concrete walls to divide the 2,500-square-foot area into three roughly 800-square-foot rooms and installing stucco over the walls and ceilings. Calvillo trained the maintenance crew on using the fast-setting products and remained onsite to assist the crew with mixing and application throughout the construction process.

After the dividing walls were constructed, the crew attached 4 x 8-foot foam insulation panels and stucco mesh to the walls and ceilings. Next, they applied the first coat of Stucco Mix at 3/8-inch thick and then scratched. A week later, they applied the brown coat at 3/8-inch. One crew member then cleaned all surfaces two days after the brown coat application to ensure there was no remaining sand residue in the food-storage areas. OnePass was used as a final, third coat. The crew applied the compound at 1/4-inch and troweled it smooth via 12-inch drywall trowels.

Blending Old with New

The owner wanted white walls to make the rooms appear larger and brighter, but specified that no chemical-based products be used in the finish, as a protective measure for their food-storage operation. As a result, the maintenance department decided not to paint the surfaces, opting instead to add Rapid Set® LIGHT admixture from the Rapid Set® Concrete Pharmacy® to the OnePass mix. The additive is a dry powder pigment that can be added to cement, concrete, mortar, plaster, and grout mixtures to make them become lighter in color. Six bags of the LIGHT additive was added to every 25-pound bag of OnePass during mixing to achieve the bright white color. Skipping the paint coat also saved time in the construction schedule.

The last step involved applying OnePass to the remaining walls, to match the old walls to the new.

By using fast-setting products, the maintenance crew was able to minimize the effects that colder temperatures often have on setting concrete, which includes lengthened hardening times that delay finish times and could lead to a lower-strength finished product. In this case, Stucco Mix – which, under normal conditions, typically sets in 75 minutes and reaches 1,500 psi in six hours, allowing applicators to scratch, brown and color coat in one day — took no more than 1.5 days to cure. The project was completed in less than a month.

Project at a glance
  • Project Type: Industrial
  • Application: Stucco and Wall Repair
  • Location: Vernon, CA
  • Size: 2,500 sq. ft.
  • Owner: Coast Packing Co.
  • Product: Rapid Set® Stucco Mix, Rapid Set® OnePass, Rapid Set® LIGHT
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Products Mentioned

Rapid Set
Rapid Set
Rapid Set
Stucco Mix