The pandemic saw a massive increase in people working remotely. The convenience of being home-based also saw a reawakening of a love for DIY home projects. Although workers are slowly making their way back to the office, many continue to enjoy the magic of DIY home projects, gardening, and handicrafts.
Could this trend explain why we want more handmade, tactile items?
In the home décor sphere, modern plaster walls are often de rigueur. Modern plaster techniques lend a depth, dimension, and luminosity that appears to shift with the light, creating an urge to touch these surfaces.
Next Read: Check out how to spruce up any dull walls in your house.
Longevity, Eco-credentials & Versatility
While modern plaster walls may be more expensive than painted drywall, natural plasters also offer longevity and are free of VOCs. Apart from their sexiness, they present a forward-thinking environmental approach to design.
This is an interesting development, considering the use of lime-based plaster around 7500 BC in Jordan by the’ Ain Ghazal to cover surfaces in their homes.
We’ve come a long way since wattle and daub, so whether it’s industrial chic you’re going for, an earthy look, or perhaps sleek Venetian you’ll want to caress, there is something for everyone with the wide range of plaster finishes available today.
Types of Modern Plaster Walls
Modern Venetian Plaster
Modern Venetian plaster is a classic Italian wall plaster that has gained international acclaim for its soft, iridescent appearance. It yields an environmentally friendly lime-based finish that can be used on exterior and interior surfaces.
Otherwise known as marble plaster, Italian plaster, or polished plaster, it is made of lime plaster, fine marble dust, water, and pigments such as oils and natural waxes.
The addition of an excellent finish is the icing on the cake of the Venetian plaster application.
Tip: Learn how to apply Venetian plaster before starting.
Clay plaster is not the kind of application you’d consider using in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens, as its clay, sand, and pigment makeup give it moisture-absorbing and releasing qualities that would cause it to erode. Still, clay render offers an eco-friendly option, and this natural plaster is considered a healthy alternative for those suffering from chemical sensitivities.
Clay plaster can help the home’s inhabitants absorb more oxygen, increase serotonin and even offset the electric charge from modern technological gadgets. Clay is porous and allows the walls to breathe, so it helps balance and regulates indoor humidity. The negative ions released are anti-static and repel dirt.
A major advantage of clay render is that chips are easy to repair. Using natural clay as the main binding agent, it is combined with aggregates and natural fibers—traditionally horsehair—for strength. Fibers used in plaster today for tensile strength, improved elasticity, and bulk include fiberglass, plastic and steel fibers, mesh, and reed and hemp fibers.
A big con about clay plaster is that it never hardens and is not durable. Clay plasters will always stay soft and are prone to many scratches and dings on the walls.
Slaked lime is less vapor-permeable but more permeable than cement plaster. It is stronger than clay and can be used in wet zones but it should not be exposed directly to water. If unpainted, it can absorb and release moisture like clay plaster. A layer of HydroWax or a penetrating sealer is recommended to allow the plaster to be more washable and wipeable.
Lime is made by baking limestone to remove impurities. It is then hydrated or slaked, and cured in situ, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to return to a soft limestone finish on the walls. It comes in an aged putty form and does not require mixing.
This was a popular finish in the US until about 1920 but was largely replaced by drywall and gypsum-based plasters.
Next read: Find out more about the benefits of using lime plaster.
Gypsum plaster has a matte finish and does not have the subtle color tones of Venetian plaster. It comes in powdered form and requires fewer coats, but must be mixed and worked onto the wall surface quickly.
Ideally, it needs to be applied within 35-40 minutes of activating, and if the application process is stopped, there are likely to be weaknesses, referred to as “cold joints,” and the job will need to be redone. It is less flexible and nowhere near as breathable as lime or clay, which makes it unsuitable for period renovation work.
Tadelakt (“to knead” in Arabic) is often called Moroccan plaster. It comprises lime plaster polished with oil-based soap made from olives and has an organic handmade look, shinier than lime, and smooth to the touch, but not reflective like Venetian plaster.
Like the Moroccan bathhouse (hammam), the application’s materials are 100% natural, and there are no volatile organic compounds, so no mold or mildew. A chemical reaction between the ingredients results in a waterproof membrane, making Tadelakt walls the most suitable plaster for wet areas like showers, baths, sinks, and tubs.
It is more expensive than entry-level tile and not a simple finish to apply, as humidity and temperature affect curing time. The slower the wall cures, the better. Check out Meoded Concretta Plaster for a beautiful finish to apply in showers or wet areas.
Portland cement is manufactured from calcium carbonate (limestone), silica, and alumina (found in clay or sand). This is mixed with sand and water, sometimes with admixtures, to add flexibility. This option has quick setting times, and the cost is relatively low, making it a popular choice.
Note: Cement plaster is also referred to as concrete plaster.
Layer It On With Meoded Paint & Plaster
You only have to glance through any home decor magazine or Instagram feed to see that modern plaster techniques look fabulous when exposed to natural light.
At Meoded, we want to inspire our customers and help them use and apply the right products to get the best finish. Whether you’re looking for modern plasters, Venetian plasters, decorative paints, concrete plasters, top coats, primers, or wall panels, we have all the essentials to create a mesmerizing look and feel.