Types of plaster finishes

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Plaster finishes on your walls or ceilings can add a rich dimension to your home. There are many types of plaster available that offer a wide range of textures. Texture not only adds beauty to your home, but also has a number of benefits, depending on the type you use.


Plaster can be lime-based, cement-based, acrylic or cellulose, according to Joseph Bronzino, artisan and owner of the website It's an Art Thing. Lime-based plaster is made from aged, hydrated lime and be used for interior or exterior walls. Acrylic-based plaster can also be used for interior or exterior surfaces and is a good choice for high-traffic areas because of its extreme durability. Cement-based plaster may be used where there is high moisture and exposure to weather. Cellulose is for interior use only.


It's an Art Thing notes that lime-based plaster is resistant to mould, crumbling and cracking. Light and weather conditions do not change the colour and it is hypoallergenic. Cement-based plaster offers durability and resistance to moisture and weather. Acrylics are water repellent, economical, washable and easy to patch. Cellulose-based plaster is the best type to use if you need insulation of sound and temperature.


Plaster is available in hundreds of colours, and you can apply it in different ways to achieve the texture and finish you desire. Finishes may be matt, semi-matt, shiny or high-gloss while textures can be soft and smooth, stone-like, sand-washed or more heavily textured. For example, you can achieve a trowelled look by applying the plaster in a semicircle with a drywall knife, according to House Painting Info -- a website owned by Karl Crowder, a professional house painter with more than 20 years' experience. The site provides helpful information and painting tips, plus a free contractors network where you can post your job request and receive quotes from contractors in your area. A mud swirl is similar but has a more uniform design. The Free Education Network, with content provided by the U.S. Army, suggests using a brush for a stippled design, by daubing over the final coat. Other methods for texturing include sponging over the finished surface, using a brush to "throw" plaster on the surface, or "throwing" crushed stone or pebbles onto the surface. It may be necessary to use a trowel to press them firmly into the plaster. You can also combine colours for a mottled appearance.

Veneer Plaster

Most plasters are applied in multiple coats. According to Tim Carter, from the Ask The Builder website, veneer plaster is gaining in popularity because it is a one-step process that saves time and costs less than conventional plaster. It requires the use of gypsum core panels in place of drywall. It is made to provide a better bonding of the plaster. You can apply a single coat of plaster that is 1/16th to 3/32nd of an inch, compared to conventional plaster that is usually about a 1/2-inch thick. There is less dust to contend with since it requires no sanding and the finished wall takes about one quarter of the time of applying traditional plaster. Carter is an experienced remodeler and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist.