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Understanding the Purpose and the Different Types of Plastering

From ancient civilizations to modern construction, plastering has maintained its significance, evolving with time and technology. When it comes to creating smooth, polished, and visually appealing surfaces on walls and ceilings, plastering should be considered as vital to homebuilding.


Plastering isn't a one-size-fits-all solution; it varies based on the purpose, the materials used, and the desired finish. The choice of plastering technique can greatly impact the overall look and feel of a space. Whether you're a homeowner looking to refurbish your interior walls, a builder involved in new construction, or simply someone interested in the world of construction and design, this guide will provide valuable insights into the diverse landscape of plastering methods. From the traditional to the contemporary, we'll uncover the unique characteristics, advantages, and applications of each type.

What is Plastering?

Plastering is an age-old technique in the construction industry that involves applying a thin cover of plaster, a mixture of lime or cement, sand, and water, over the exposed surface of walls, ceilings, or partitions. The primary purpose of plastering is to provide a smooth and seamless finish to these surfaces, concealing brickwork, concrete, and other materials. While it might look purely aesthetic, plastering plays several vital roles in construction in terms of protection, durability, levelling and alignment of walls and ceilings.

Different Types of Plastering

There are several types of plaster and they serve various needs, environmental conditions, and aesthetic preferences. Let's take a look at some of the most commonly used types of plastering.



1. Cement Plastering

Cement plastering, often referred to as cement rendering, involves the application of a mixture composed of cement, sand, and water. This technique yields a strong and durable surface that is resistant to weathering and environmental conditions. It's commonly used on exteriors to protect against the elements, and its versatility allows for various textures and finishes.



2. Gypsum Plastering

Gypsum plastering, also known as plaster of paris, is a popular choice for interior surfaces. Gypsum is a naturally occurring mineral that, when mixed with water, forms a smooth paste that dries quickly and provides a clean, polished appearance. This type of plastering is valued for its fire-resistant properties and is often used in spaces where hygiene and cleanliness are priorities.



3. Mud Plastering

Mud plastering, an age-old technique, involves the use of locally sourced mud mixed with other natural materials like straw or even dung. It is an eco-friendly approach that creates a rustic and earthy finish and offers excellent thermal insulation and breathability, making it suitable for both traditional and sustainable construction practices.



4. Lime Plastering

Lime plastering utilises lime as the primary binding material. It has been used for centuries and is renowned for its breathability and flexibility, which allow structures to adapt to changing conditions. Lime plaster is often seen in historical buildings and restoration projects, where preserving the authenticity of the structure is paramount.



5. Waterproof Plaster

Waterproof plaster, as the name suggests, is designed to repel water and moisture. It's a critical choice for areas prone to dampness, such as bathrooms and basements. This type of plastering incorporates additives that enhance water resistance, making it an effective solution for preventing water damage and the growth of mildew.



6. Stucco Plaster

Purpose of Plastering

The different types of plastering serve a multitude of purposes in construction, all contributing to the overall functionality, aesthetics, and longevity of structures. Let’s delve into some of the key reasons why plastering is a necessary step in the building process.


1. Increase Durability of Masonry

Plastering acts as a protective shield for brick masonry and other building materials. It enhances their resistance to external forces such as impact, weathering, and temperature changes. By reinforcing the structural integrity of masonry, plastering contributes to the longevity of the entire construction.


2. Provide a Plain Surface for Painting Work

One of the primary functions of plastering is to provide a smooth and even surface that is ideal for painting and other decorative treatments. Without plastering, uneven surfaces and imperfections would be more visible, resulting in a bad finish.


3. Provide Protection Against Atmospheric Attack

Exposure to external elements like rain, wind, and sunlight can gradually degrade the surface of building materials. Plastering creates a barrier that shields the underlying structure from these atmospheric attacks, preserving its quality and appearance over time.


4. Protect Against Moisture

The penetration of moisture can lead to a variety of problems, including mildew growth, deterioration of materials, and structural instability. Plastering, especially when combined with waterproofing techniques, prevents moisture from seeping into walls and ceilings and safeguards the integrity of the structure.


5. Provide a Better Aesthetic View

Plastering plays a crucial role in enhancing the visual appeal of interiors and exteriors. It transforms rough and uneven surfaces into polished surfaces that are ready to be painted on furnished with vibrant paints to elegant wallpapers.

As we've explored, the different types of plastering can be employed to cater to the specific needs and preferences of a project. To further enhance your understanding of the plastering process, you're encouraged to watch the informative video How to Plaster a Wall on YouTube. By doing so, you'll gain a better perspective of this necessary technique that continues to serve us well in modern construction projects.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Does lime plaster crack?

Lime plaster can occasionally show hairline cracks due to shrinkage as it dries. However, these are mostly superficial and can be easily repaired.


2. What is the next step after plastering?

After plastering, the walls are left to dry completely. Once dry, they can be prepared for the next step that is typically sanding to ensure a smooth finish before painting or wallpapering.


3. When should you start curing after plastering?

Curing days may differ depending on the type of plaster used. Usually, for cement plaster, curing should start from the next day of plastering and continue for a minimum of 7 days.


4. Can we paint walls after plastering?

Yes, you can paint walls after plastering but it is necessary to ensure that the plaster is completely dry. Once the plaster is completely dry, it's recommended to apply a priming paint to seal the plaster and prevent paint from being absorbed into the wall.


5. What is the plastering mix ratio?

The common plastering mix ratio for interior walls is 1 part cement to 6 parts sand, while for exterior walls or for surfaces exposed to moisture, a ratio of 1 part cement to 4 parts sand is used. However, it can change based on specific requirements.

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