What Are the Different Types of Plaster Finishes?

worker plastering gypsum board wall
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    For a long time, people have admired plaster finishes for their ability to add class and sophistication to both indoor and outdoor areas. Whether smooth, textured, or polished, plaster finishes elevate the look of any structure. 

    Plastering is an age-old craft popular among DIYers, interior designers, and artists for decades. 

    Plaster finishes are a fascinating option for designing eye-catching wall and ceiling surfaces because of their wide range of possibilities.

    Choosing the right plaster finish is essential for giving any room the look and functionality you want. 

    A room's mood, style, and aesthetic attractiveness can be drastically altered by the finish you choose. The right plaster finish can help you achieve a traditional, country, urban, or cutting-edge aesthetic. 

    It's important to remember that different plaster finishes have different longevity, upkeep, and ecological footprint characteristics. 

    Knowing the various plaster finish options can help you choose the one that best suits your needs and tastes, leading to a remarkable and long-lasting end product.

    What Is The Best Plaster To Use On Your Walls?

    You should definitely have a professional perform the plastering for you, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't educate yourself on your options beforehand. Conducting your research is important because some will work better on some properties than others. 

    It is important to use a plaster appropriate for your home, but it is also essential to note that different plasters perform better in different situations.

    Here, we'll examine the most common plaster varieties and explain when and why to use each. 

    Comparing Lime Plaster and Gypsum Plaster

    Various plaster is available, but before we get into those, it's helpful to take a quick look at how they differ from the current mixtures that are more widely used today. 

    Lime plaster is made by combining lime, sand, and water, and often incorporates fibers like animal hair for increased strength and adhesion. It has been used for millennia because it allows air circulation, unlike many cement plasters used today. 

    It is well-suited for older homes because of its effectiveness in warding off dampness and condensation. 

    Lime plaster is adaptable to building movement and has a lovely, subtle appearance that does credit to the charm of older homes. 

    Meanwhile, gypsum plaster has surpassed all others in popularity in recent years. Dehydrated gypsum is used in its production, and sometimes other hardeners are used.

    Lacking the flexibility and breathability of lime, it is sometimes deemed inappropriate for restoring historic buildings. It dries much faster than lime, is readily available from experienced plasterers, and is great for making a smooth finish in contemporary homes and additions. 

    A Plaster of Cement

    In contrast to lime and gypsum plaster, cement plaster is typically manufactured on-site using cement, sand, and water. Cement plaster is frequently used because of its low price and fast curing time. However, unlike gypsum plaster, a smooth finish is more difficult to create with cement plaster. Because of this, gypsum plaster is often used as a finishing coat. 

    Cement plaster is not ideal for period homes since it is less porous or flexible than lime. 

    Plaster of Clay

    In recent years, there has been a renaissance in the use of traditional and natural types of plaster. As a result, clay plaster has become increasingly popular for use in historic and modern structures. 

    When making clay plaster, natural clay is used as the main binding material, mixed with aggregates and natural fibres.

    Clay plaster is not recommended for locations frequently exposed to water, such as in showers or beneath sinks. Still, it does produce a beautiful matt finish that can be left unpainted (typically, they come coloured).

    Plaster from Venice

    Venetian plaster, made from clay and lime like typical plaster, is currently a trendy interior wall finish. 

    It has no aggregates and is produced by combining heated limestone with water. It has a gorgeous, natural sheen because of the primer and wax coat that round off the finishing process. One drawback is that Venetian plaster is quite expensive.

    Tadelakt Plaster

    Tadelakt is a type of lime plaster that can also be referred to as Moroccan plaster. It provides a lovely, natural, rustic texture that works well with classic and modern decor. 

    Its key advantage is that it is resistant to water and wear, making it useful in various settings, from kitchens to bathrooms. 

    Types Of Plaster Finishes

    Plastering's fundamental goal—making a smooth, even surface—remains the same, but variable tools, methods, and finishes allow for a wide range of customization.

    Plastering with cement gives walls and ceilings a strong, smooth texture that can be painted or used as a base for wallpaper or vinyl stickers.

    We discuss the different options available for both interior and exterior plaster treatments and the methods for creating them. 

    Since plastering often results in a thin coat with a large open surface, if aftercare procedures are not strictly adhered to, the mixing water may evaporate.

    Plaster with a Pebble-Dashed Effect

    grey plaster wall background

    It's a plaster finish achieved by scattering small pebbles or crushed stones of an appropriate size (10-20 mm) over a recently poured final coat of mortar and leaving them to dry.

    The final coat is often a mortar prepared from a mix of cement and coarse sand in the ratio of 1:3, applied in a thickness of around 1 mm.

    It's important to thoroughly wash and wet the dashing pebbles onto the last layer. A wooden float or the trowel's flat can press the pebbles firmly into the mortar.

    Scrapped Plaster Finish

    Many homes have a scraped plaster finish because it's a nice compromise between smooth and rough. Plaster, in which the outer skin is removed by scraping it with a straight steel edge, an old saw blade, or similar instruments after the final coat has been applied, levelled, and allowed to harden for several hours.

    Different scraped finishes can be achieved by applying different amounts of force with various tools.

    The final coating of this plaster finish is typically between 6 and 12 mm thick, and the scrapping process removes around 3 mm. After the last coat has dried, that's when you scrape it.

    When scraping, the top layer of mortar is removed to reveal the aggregate below; the aggregate's gradation determines the resulting texture. This plaster coating is more durable than the standard one since it resists cracking.

    Plaster with a Textured Surface

    Boundary and feature walls often have a textured plaster surface to add visual interest to an otherwise smooth interior design scheme.

    Stucco plastering, which has a naturally rough surface but is sometimes smoothed to produce repetitive patterns, produces a textured plaster finish.

    Sand, lime, cement, and water are combined with additives like fibres, synthetics, acrylics, and even colouring pigments to create a textured finish.

    The freshly applied top coat is worked with various tools to create a decorative finish or textured surface. This one also presents all the benefits of a rough finish.

    Stucco Plaster Finish

    A stucco plaster finish is a high-quality variety of plaster. This plaster is suitable for both interior and exterior use.

    Plaster is typically applied in three layers for a total thickness of around 25 mm.

    There are three layers of paint: the first, called a scratch coat, the second, called a brown coat; and the third, called a white coat or finishing coat.

    Exposed Aggregate Plaster Finish

    White and colourful marble chips must be between 6 mm and 12 mm, obtained by crushing hard marble stones.

    The minimum thickness for the final plaster with exposed aggregate is 20 mm. The application process must be identical to that of the sand-faced surface. The pebbles should be thoroughly washed and drained, and the mix ratio should be one cement to 1 marble chip.

    While the undercoat is still plastic, the admixture should be flung onto it with a powerful whipping action at right angles to the wall's face. Washing or brushing with a water jet is required to remove loose mortar from the top surface.

    Waterproof Plaster Finish

    Plastering must be done with a waterproof cement compound of an approved make and manufacture. It is forbidden to use an admixture that contains calcium chloride. The components should be delivered to the job site in their original containers.

    It is recommended that 3 per cent of the compound be combined with dry cement, but this can vary depending on the manufacturer.

    Waterproofing material must be thoroughly and integrally mixed with cement to not escape in a separate stream as water is added during mixing.

    Finished in a Smooth Coat

    Smooth plaster surfaces are achieved by using a mortar mix consisting of 1 part cement to 4 or 6 parts fine sand (depending on the quality of the sand and the type of cement used). This coating can be used on either the inside or outside of a wall.

    You can paint, stencil, wallpaper, or even apply vinyl stickers to this plastered surface after carefully levelling and smoothing it over flat surfaces with a wooden float.

    Sand Finish Plaster

    Two applications of mortar mix plaster are typical for this finish. For the first layer, which is 12 mm thick, the cement-to-sand ratio in the mortar is preserved at 1:4.

    The first layer is applied, let to cure for seven days, and then the second layer, 8mm thick, is applied on top of it.

    The mixture of sand and cement is kept at a 1:1 ratio, as necessary. The sponge blends in the necessary details when the layer is still wet.

    Rough Plaster

    Using a mix ratio of 1 to 1 to 3 parts cement, sand, and small aggregate, you can create a spatter or roughcast plaster finish. This more current, contemporary design goes well with exposed bricks, rustic interior decor, and coarse textures. 

    A wooden float is used to approximate balance out the mortar after it has been tossed or splattered across the surface.


    Exterior and interior areas alike can benefit from the refined look of a plaster finish. Different aesthetic purposes call for different finishes, such as smooth, textured, or polished. Changing the plaster finish of a room can have a dramatic effect on the room's atmosphere, design, and aesthetic.

    Plaster coatings range in durability, ease of maintenance, and environmental impact.

    Plaster treatments range from lime plaster to gypsum plaster to cement plaster to clay plaster to Venetian plaster to tadelakt plaster. Adding fibres like animal hair to the mix of lime, sand, and water gives the resulting plaster greater strength and stickiness.

    It can adjust to the shifting of older buildings without causing any damage. In contrast, modern homes often have a smooth texture thanks to gypsum plaster, which is dehydrated gypsum.

    On-site production of cement plaster allows for both quick curing and a low price.

    However, unlike lime, it is not as porous and pliable, making it unsuitable for older houses. Plaster made of clay is popular for both old and new buildings, however it shouldn't be used in damp environments.

    Clay and lime Venetian plaster is a pricey yet stylish interior wall treatment. The natural, rustic texture of Tadelakt plaster, often called Moroccan plaster, complements both traditional and contemporary design.

    white stucco texture

    Although the primary objective of plastering is to produce a flat, level surface, the enormous variety of available equipment, techniques, and finishes allows for a great deal of personalisation. You can paint cement plaster, or use it as a base for wallpaper or vinyl stickers, because of its durability and smoothness.

    Some examples of plastering techniques include the pebble-dashed effect, the scraped plaster finish, the textured surface, the stucco plaster finish, the exposed aggregate plaster finish, the waterproof plaster finish, the smooth coat, the sand finish, and the rough cast plaster finish.

    Scattering small pebbles or crushed stones over a final mortar coat creates the pebble-dashed impression, while a scraped plaster finish strikes a balance between smooth and rough. Sand, lime, cement, water, and additives are mixed to make a textured surface or ornamental finish.

    Stucco plaster is a high-quality exterior/interior finish that requires at least three coats of paint.

    Crushing hard marble stones of at least 20 mm in thickness produces exposed aggregate plaster. The application is the same as for the sand-faced surface, requiring washed and drained pebbles and a mix ratio of 1 cement to 1 marble chip. Using an approved cement compound, the waterproofing ingredient must be completely mixed with cement to avoid water seepage during the plastering process.

    Whether you're working on an indoor or outdoor wall, a mortar mix of 1 part cement to 4 or 6 parts fine sand will help you create a smooth plaster surface. Plastering with a sand finish requires two coats of mortar mix plaster, each 12 millimetres in thickness.

    One part cement to one part sand to three parts tiny aggregate is the perfect ratio for making a rough plaster finish.

    Content Summary

    • Plaster finishes can add class and sophistication to indoor and outdoor areas.
    • Different plaster finishes have varying longevity, upkeep, and ecological characteristics.
    • Choosing the right plaster finish can drastically alter a room's mood and style.
    • Lime plaster allows air circulation and is effective in warding off dampness.
    • Gypsum plaster dries faster and is suitable for creating smooth finishes in contemporary homes.
    • Cement plaster is affordable and cures quickly but is less flexible than lime.
    • Clay plaster is popular for historic and modern structures, providing a beautiful matt finish.
    • Venetian plaster has a natural sheen and is currently a trendy interior wall finish.
    • Tadelakt plaster is resistant to water and wear, making it suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Plastering techniques and finishes offer a wide range of customisation options.
    • Cement plaster provides a strong, smooth texture for painting or applying wallpaper.
    • Pebble-dashed plaster finish involves scattering small pebbles over a mortar coat.
    • Scraped plaster finish strikes a balance between smooth and rough, with different textures achieved by scraping.
    • Textured plaster surfaces add visual interest to the boundary and feature walls.
    • The stucco plaster finish is a high-quality variety suitable for both interior and exterior use.
    • The exposed aggregate plaster finish uses crushed marble chips for decorative effect.
    • A waterproof plaster finish requires a waterproof cement compound and thorough mixing.
    • Smooth plaster surfaces are achieved by using a mortar mix of cement and fine sand.
    • Sand finish plaster involves two applications of mortar mix with different thicknesses.
    • Rough plaster finish with spatter or roughcast effect complements rustic interior decor.
    • Plaster finishes offer a wide range of possibilities for designing walls and ceilings.
    • Different plasters have different characteristics suitable for specific situations.
    • Lime plaster allows air circulation and is effective in older homes.
    • Gypsum plaster dries quickly and is great for smooth finishes in contemporary homes.
    • Cement plaster is affordable and cures rapidly but is less flexible than lime.
    • Clay plaster is recommended for historic and modern structures but not for wet areas.
    • Venetian plaster provides a natural sheen but can be expensive.
    • Tadelakt plaster is resistant to water and wear, making it ideal for kitchens and bathrooms.
    • Plaster finishes can be customised to create various textures and patterns.
    • Pebble-dashed plaster finish involves scattering pebbles over a mortar coat.
    • Scraped plaster finish offers a compromise between smooth and rough textures.
    • Textured plaster surfaces add visual interest to walls.
    • The stucco plaster finish is suitable for both interior and exterior use.
    • The exposed aggregate plaster finish uses crushed marble chips for decorative effect.
    • A waterproof plaster finish requires a waterproof cement compound and thorough mixing.
    • Smooth plaster surfaces are achieved with a mortar mix of cement and fine sand.
    • Sand finish plaster involves two layers of mortar mixed with different thicknesses.
    • A rough plaster finish creates a contemporary design and goes well with exposed bricks.
    • Plaster finishes allow for painting, stencilling, wallpapering, and applying vinyl stickers.
    • Understanding different plaster finishes helps in choosing the right one for desired aesthetics.
    • Lime plaster is adaptable to building movement and has a subtle appearance.
    • Gypsum plaster is readily available and dries quickly, which is suitable for contemporary homes.
    • Cement plaster is affordable but challenging to achieve a smooth finish.
    • Clay plaster is gaining popularity for its natural and matt finish.
    • Venetian plaster provides a beautiful sheen but can be costly.
    • Tadelakt plaster is highly resistant to water and wear, making it versatile.
    • Plaster finishes offer a range of customisation options for walls and ceilings.
    • Different plaster finishes have specific characteristics suited to different situations.
    • Plaster finishes can enhance the aesthetics and functionality of a room.
    • Plastering techniques and finishes allow for creativity and personalisation in design.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Plaster

    A pebble-dash plaster finish is achieved by projecting small pebbles or stone chips onto the wet plaster, providing a rough and decorative surface.

    A textured plaster finish involves applying the plaster in a pattern or texture using specialised tools or techniques, creating a decorative effect.

    A sgraffito plaster finish is created by applying two layers of plaster with contrasting colours and then carving or scratching through the top layer to reveal the underlying colour.

    Yes, plaster finishes can be painted. The smooth and textured finishes provide a suitable surface for painting, allowing for a range of decorative options.

    Yes, plaster finishes can be used on exterior surfaces. Certain types, such as roughcast or pebble-dash finishes, are specifically designed for enhanced durability and weather resistance.

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