10 Things Nobody Tells You About Plaster

10 Things Nobody Tells You About Plaster

Information about 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Plaster

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In this week’s installment of 10 Things Nobody Tells You: what to know about the age-old tradition of plaster. Read on:

1. It can contain marble dust or soap made from olives.

At its most basic, plaster is a mixture of lime or gypsum, sand or cement, and water that hardens when dry. But there are a wide varieties of options available for the modern plasterer, including slaked lime, Venetian (which has pigment and marble dust in it), gypsum, clay, and the Moroccan plaster called tadelakt—made of “lime plaster and black soap made from olives,” Margot reports. Read more about each in Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways.

photograph by emily andrews, courtesy of alexander waterworth interiors, from
Above: Photograph by Emily Andrews, courtesy of Alexander Waterworth Interiors, from Pastels Go Rustic in an Italian Farmhouse.

2. It was replaced by drywall.

Plaster was the wall material of choice until the advent of easy-to-install commercial drywall. But, as Margot notes in Remodeling 101: Modern Plaster Walls, Six Ways, plaster is “also typically longer lasting and more beautiful” than standard drywall. Among other pros: plaster can be fire-resistant and particularly good at blocking noise. On the other hand, it’s much trickier to install than drywall, and difficult and costly to repair if it’s damaged.

3. It can be found in the Pyramids.

Plaster is an ancient technique, and even the earliest methods used don’t differ all that much from those used today. Sludges of water and clay or lime have long been used to fortify huts and keep out weather and wind. And, according to the Encyclopedia Brittanica entry on the subject, the ancient Egyptians were master plaster workers; the Pyramids contain 4,000 year old plaster that’s still in good shape.

photograph by nicholas worley, courtesy of simon astridge architecture worksh 10
Above: Photograph by Nicholas Worley, courtesy of Simon Astridge Architecture Workshop, from Kitchen of the Week: Urban Tropical, A Simon Astridge Kitchen Addition.

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