How to Plaster Shells to a Wall

Updated February 21, 2017

Add seashells to your plaster, faux-finished walls for a nautical or beach-themed look. The items are pushed into the plaster during the texturising process. Create a border across the top of the wall or randomly insert sea shells for a more organic and natural look. Seashells, sand dollars and even starfish can be used. Mix in other items such as recycled glass, old coins or even jewellery for an eclectic finish.

Wash all seashells and other items in a basin of water. Do not use soap to avoid leaving a residue on the shells.

Allow the shells to dry about 24 to 48 hours. Lay on a towel or plastic in a warm environment or even outside.

Paint the shells with a clear coat of polyurethane. Brush on a water-base sealer or use a spray can and spray the shells and other items. Allow to dry several hours. Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid any respiratory distress.

Wipe down the wall using a wet sponge or rag. Ensure the surface is free from oil and grime.

Stir up joint compound using a drill with a mixing attachment. If the joint compound is crumbly or looks dry, add a small amount of water during the mixing process. The plaster should be smooth and creamy.

Use a putty knife to place a thick amount of joint compound on the wall. Take a drywall trowel and swipe the plaster into different formations. Ensure the plaster is about 1/4 inch thick on the wall. Stick the seashells and other items into the plaster. Hold in place gently for a few moments.

Leave items that are firmly attaching to the wall in place. Other items may just make an indentation, when stamping into the plaster. Leave these items on a piece of plastic in the order of where they were placed on wall. Allow plaster to dry.

Paint plaster wall using a rough roller moving in a vertical direction. More than one coat of paint may be needed. Allow paint to dry about two hours between coats.

Attach any seashells that were too large to stick in plaster alone. Use a small dot of Super Glue or a hot glue gun and add to the inset of the plaster area, where the seashell originally made an indentation.

Set the seashell in place and firmly hold. Do not let go of the shell for about 10 seconds.

Check to ensure all shells are firmly in place after about 24 hours. Any loose shells will need extra glue.


Practice a sample of the technique before you begin plastering your walls. Use a hard piece of wood or firm plastic board so seashells can be fully attached. Not all of the seashells need to stay in the wall. You can also use the seashell as a stamp and simply create the image of the shell.


When plastering walls, understand the finish is nearly impossible to remove from the surface when dry. Be sure this is the finish you will want for many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Seashells and other trinkets
  • Basin
  • Towel plastic sheeting
  • Polyurethane
  • Paint brush
  • Joint compound
  • Hand drill
  • Mixer attachment
  • Putty knife
  • Drywall trowel
  • Paint
  • Glue
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About the Author

Julie Hampton has worked as a professional freelance writer since 1999 for various newspapers and websites including "The Florida Sun" and "Pensacola News Journal." She served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic and nurse for over six years and recently worked as the Community Relations Director for a health center. Hampton studied journalism and communications at the University of West Florida.