If you apply vertical concrete, carve concrete walls or create cast pieces, sooner or later you may have to face a painful truth: Traditional metal lath can be troublesome. It’s heavy, can be difficult to shape and is incredibly sharp when cut. SpiderLath, a new fiberglass mesh from a company of the same name, addresses those problems.
“We were installers of metal lath and very well-acquainted with the negative aspects of using metal. That’s what led us to come up with this alternative,” says Wayne Love. Love developed the product with two other partners, and is now co-owner of the SpiderLath company.
SpiderLath can be used with stucco, manufactured stone, veneer stone and a variety of concrete applications such as flooring, countertops, walls and vertical sculptures. Because of the bond that forms between SpiderLath and a cementitious coating, you will not have the stress cracking associated with metal reinforcement, Love says.
Additionally, code requirements state that when installing lath, it needs to be 1/4 inch from the wall to allow the mortar to encapsulate it. In order to meet the standards, SpiderLath has foam strips on the back to keep it from sitting flush against a wall. “Even metal lath didn’t follow this code,” Love says.
But perhaps the best part about SpiderLath is its ease of use. For starters, the product comes in a 4-foot by 75-foot roll that only weighs 20 pounds. The equivalent amount of metal lath would weigh approximately 90 pounds. Additionally, installation time is reduced to about half that of traditional metal lath because SpiderLath comes in a roll instead of sheets. The roll also makes it easier to shape into something unique for, say, sculptures.
Contractors are warming to SpiderLath’s ability to be cut, too. “It’s easy to cut with just a knife or scissors instead of tin snips,” Love says.
Because it’s made of fiberglass, the freshly cut edges aren’t as sharp, making it safe to work with.
Despite all of the advantages that SpiderLath offers, there are no unique issues contractors need to know about when using it, Love says. “It’s a little bit more flexible, but if they are using to using metal the installation procedures are all the same. Even though it’s a new product, they don’t need to be reeducated on how to put it on the wall.”