What Are The Various Types Of Plaster Finishes?

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    You have complete freedom to make whatever decisions you like when working on a home improvement project by yourself. For example, plaster finishes can add dimension and character to walls and ceilings, but the sheer number of options available can overwhelm you.

    As the saying goes, "Variety is the spice of life," this adage certainly applies to plaster finishes; there's plenty of it to go around. Therefore, one type of plaster may be better suited to your needs than another.

    This blog will help you choose the best plaster finish for your next project by describing the various options and their features.

    What is Plaster Finishes?

    Plaster finishes are the final coats or layers used to improve a surface's look, durability, and functionality, such as a wall, ceiling, or other structure.

    Plaster is made by combining different materials with water to form a paste and is commonly made from gypsum, lime, cement, or clay.

    After the surface is ready, the paste is spread across and left to dry and harden.

    There are many applications for plaster coatings. They make for a nice, even surface that is easy to clean and conceals flaws. Plaster also allows for surface customisation and artistic expression by adding texture, depth, and decorative elements. Plaster finishes also prevent the underlying structure from deteriorating due to moisture and wear.

    Purpose Of Plastering

    The most common reasons to plaster include:

    • To shield the building's exterior from the sun, wind, rain, snow, and other potentially damaging weather conditions.
    • To polish off the rough edges of structural components.
    • To enhance the surface's visual appeal by adding a decorative effect.
    • To keep pests from damaging the surface.
    • To cover up poor-quality components or shoddy assembly.

    Types Of Plaster Finishes

    The primary goals of finishing are to make an uneven surface smooth and add some decoration to it or, more generally, to improve its aesthetic appeal.

    Smooth Cast Finish

    The surface is flat even after being given a smooth cast finish.

    For a sleek cast finish, mix 1 part cement with three parts fine sand to create the mortar used in the process. The recipe determines the quantity of water added.

    A wooden float is used to spread the mixed mortar. However, plastering exteriors with steel floats is generally frowned upon because they produce an extremely smooth finish that can easily crack when subjected to the elements.

    Rough Cast Finish Or Spatter Dash Finish

    grey plaster wall background

    It's a plaster finish where the mortar has coarse aggregates and the typical plaster mortar ingredients. The mortar comprises sand, cement, and coarse aggregates in the following proportions: 1:1:3.

    A large trowel is used to slam the mortar onto the plastered surface. Then, a wooden float gives the surface a rough polish.

    Exterior renderings frequently use this type of finish. Roughcast finishes are impervious to water, last longer, and don't easily crack.

    Textured Finish

    Stucco plastering is commonly paired with textured finishes. Plaster's surface can be worked to achieve a variety of textures and ornamental patterns. However, making the textures and patterns takes specialised equipment and skilled labour.

    Sand Faced Finish

    When plastering is completed in two coats, a sand-faced finish is achieved. The mortar used to achieve a polished cast surface has the same components. For the first layer, use 1 part cement to 4 parts sand. The initial layer is 12 millimetres thick.

    The first layer is patterned with zigzags. Because a new coat of mortar won't stick to a glossy surface. After applying the first coat, wait seven days for the water to cure.

    The process is complete once the second 8mm thick coat has been applied. For the second coat, you should use a mortar made from cement and sand at a ratio of 1:1.

    The final coat is completed by rubbing clean, washed, uniform-sized sand onto the plaster. This method leaves sand particles embedded in the plaster's finish.

    Scrapped Finish

    The coat of scrapped finish can be anywhere from 6mm to 12mm thick. Once the coat has been hardened, it is scraped in various patterns 3 millimetres deep.

    The plastered surface is scraped using a variety of tools, including steel straight edges and broken saw blades. Cracks are more difficult to appear on scraped surfaces.

    Depeter Finish

    The Depeter finish is very much like the pebble dash. After applying a coat of plaster that is 12 millimetres thick, you should press small pieces of gravel or flint into the surface of the plaster while it is still wet.

    Similar to the pebble dash finish, the decorative de peter finish utilises flints of varying colours to achieve unique and attractive patterns.

    Pebble Dash Finish or Dry Dash Finish

    Pebble or dry dash finishes are applied to a depth of 12 millimetres. The mortar is a 1:3 mix of the same stuff used for a smooth cast finish.

    The plaster is smashed with pebbles ranging from 10mm to 20mm. A wooden float is used to press the pebbles into the mortar gently. Plaster finishes like this are typically reserved for aesthetic purposes.

    Plastering Special Material Used For Finishing Coat

    Mortar is often supplemented with other materials to achieve desired properties in the final product, such as increased durability, improved aesthetics, fire resistance, thermal insulation, etc.

    These are the unusual components that must be used.

    Asbestos Marble Plaster

    Mortar, composed of cement asbestos and finely crushed marble, is often used as a finishing coat because of its improved aesthetic.

    However, marble plaster is a common decorative material because it can imitate the appearance of the more expensive natural stone. It is typically made up of marble dust, binding agents, and colourants. Marble plaster is commonly used for interior walls and ceilings due to its smooth and opulent appearance.

    Putting safety first means selecting asbestos-free building materials. Experts and professionals should be consulted before beginning any construction or renovation project so that appropriate and safe materials can be used.

    Plaster of Paris of Gypsum Plaster

    Plaster of Paris is made by smelting ground gypsum at temperatures between 160 and 170 degrees Celsius. After adding water, the Plaster of Paris will harden in about 3–4 minutes.

    To lengthen the time it takes to set, suitable retarders are added. In addition, parish plater is typically combined with lime for decorative purposes and when reporting carks.

    Gypsum plaster is lightweight and resistant to fire. It sets without reducing in size. It effectively deadens noise. It is of great value for decorative purposes.

    On the other hand, gypsum plaster can be dissolved in water.

    Acoustic Plaster

    Finishing coats made from a mortar with materials like gypsum mixtures added to it undergoes a chemical reaction that creates gas bubbles; these bubbles cause tiny openings to form in the coat, giving the coat the appearance of a honeycomb.

    The honeycomb's tiny holes muffle the sound. Hall, auditorium and similar interior walls benefit from this type of plaster.

    Keene’s Cement Plaster

    To make Kenees' cement, the plaster of Paris is calcined with alum. After a few days, this hardens into a white glass-like polish. As a decorative accessory, it's a great option.

    Keene's Cement Plaster's capacity to dry to a tough, dense, and smooth coating is one of its main selling points. Commercial spaces, public buildings, and other high-traffic areas frequently make use of them due to their sturdiness. In addition, the durability of the finished surface is ensured by Keene's Cement Plaster's resistance to abrasion, impact, and wear due to its high hardness.

    Thin layers of Keene's Cement Plaster are typically applied with a trowel. Achieving a uniform and smooth surface calls for careful mixing and application. Plaster can be polished to a high sheen once dried and cured, giving the surface an elegant look.

    Keene's Cement Plaster should not be used outside or in areas subjected to high humidity levels. Despite its high moisture resistance, plaster can deteriorate if constantly exposed to water.

    Barium Plaster

    The finishing coat in X-ray rooms is applied using sand, cement, and barium soleplate mortar to shield workers from radioactivity.

    Granite Silicon Plaster

    Mortar is used to combine granite and silicon. This type of finish is reserved for the highest-quality building projects. The setting is fast and flexible. Cracks are thus prevented.

    The ingredients in this plaster include crushed granite and silicon particles, in addition to high-quality binders, resins, and additives.

    The plaster's unique texture is due to the inclusion of granite particles, which, once applied, give the impression of being made of granite.

    In addition, the plaster's cracking, impact, and weather resistance are improved by the silicon particles' flexibility and durability.

    Granite Silicon Plaster is typically applied with a base coat, followed by additional layers of the plaster mixture applied with a trowel. Adjusting the application's thickness lets you create the desired feel and depth. After application, the plaster is frequently troweled or polished to highlight its granite-like texture.

    Considerations When Choosing A Plaster Finish

    Many factors should be thought through before settling on a plaster finish. Different plaster finishes have different qualities and can be used for various purposes. Considering these will help you select an ideal plaster finish for your home. Some crucial factors are as follows:


    Determine how long-lasting the surface needs to be. For example, cement plaster and stucco are two plaster finishes well-suited for outdoor use because of their extreme durability and resistance to moisture and wind. A plaster finish that protects against wear, impact, and water damage is especially important in high-traffic or moisture-prone areas.

    Application Method

    There are several ways to apply different plaster finishes. Experts may be needed for some, while do-it-yourselfers with experience can implement others. Give some consideration to how long it will take, how much money you have, and how difficult the application is. You should consult a professional plasterer if you have any concerns.

    Environmental Impact

    Consider eco-friendly plaster finishes if you're concerned about the environment. Finishes made from natural materials like clay or gypsum plaster have a smaller carbon footprint than other options. Find out where the various plaster finishes get their raw materials and how they are disposed of so you can pick the most eco-friendly option.

    Aesthetic Appeal

    The desired aesthetic effect should come first. The colours, patterns, and textures you can achieve with plaster finishes are endless. When selecting a plaster finish, keep in mind the room's overall design and architectural theme. For example, lime and clay plaster are classic choices for a more country feel, while acrylic and Venetian plaster can create a more contemporary vibe.


    Think about how much upkeep your desired plaster finish will need. It may be necessary to seal, touch up, or clean some finishes regularly. Consider how much work and time you will put into maintaining the plaster and pick a finish that fits that.


    Set a spending limit for the plaster coating. Material and labour costs can vary considerably. For instance, thinking about how much work it would take to apply a traditional lime plaster finish could drive up the price. Then, weigh the return on investment against the long-term cost savings.

    Substrate Compatibility

    Make sure the plaster coating you pick won't cause any problems with the underlying material. Surfaces like concrete, wood, and drywall each have their optimal finish. If you are worried about the plaster finish's adhesion to your substrate, you should research and talk to professionals.

    Plaster Finish Maintenance And Care

    Plaster finishes require regular maintenance to extend their useful life, keep them looking good, and protect them from harm. However, plaster finishes can be kept in pristine condition, and their lifespan is lengthened with regular maintenance. Here are some suggestions for keeping plaster in good condition:

    1. Regular Cleaning: Plaster surfaces must be dusted and maintained on a regular basis to keep dirt and dust. Prevent scratching the plaster using a soft cloth or brush with soft bristles. Don't use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners if you don't want to ruin the finish.
    2. Prevent Moisture Buildup: Water can easily ruin plaster coatings. Be on the lookout for any damp spots or other indicators of a water leak. Take care of any leaks immediately to keep water from damaging the plaster.
    3. Avoid Impact and Scratches: Avoid damaging the plaster with any accidental knocks or scratches by taking the necessary precautions. It would be best not to lean anything sharp or heavy against the plaster. Put down some coasters or pads to safeguard your furniture from damage.
    4. Address damage and cracks: Check for damage to the plaster, such as cracks, chips, or other imperfections. Plaster patching compounds are available to repair small cracks. If you find extensive cracks or holes, hiring a professional plasterer is best to fix the problem.
    5. Avoid Using Excessive Force: Avoid scratching plaster finishes when moving heavy furniture or other objects. If you want to keep the plaster in good condition, refrain from banging on it or using too much force.
    6. Keep Indoor Conditions Optimal: The relative humidity and temperature inside should be constant. Plaster is susceptible to cracking and damage due to changes in humidity and temperature. Maintain a comfortable humidity level with humidifiers or dehumidifiers as needed.
    7. Regular Upkeep and Inspection: Check the plaster finishes regularly for any signs of damage. Plaster cracks, moisture damage, and alterations in appearance should all be investigated. Repair problems right away to avoid expensive complications.
    8. Professional Maintenance: If you need more in-depth care, hire a professional periodically. Plaster finishes can be kept in pristine condition with the help of professional inspectors, cleaners, and maintenance specialists.


    closeup hand worker plastering cement wall building house (2)

    Wall finishing techniques such as plastering and rendering can enhance a wall's aesthetic value while also shielding it from the sun and moisture.

    Plastering is a popular alternative to drywall for interior wall finishing, and its history stretches back to the time it took to construct the Egyptian pyramids.

    To create it, mix together water, a mineral aggregate, and a binding agent like gypsum. It takes at least three coats of plaster to get the desired look when applied on a lath, a wooden structure.

    Plastering's adaptability to a multitude of substrates makes it a viable option for building everything from residential homes to public infrastructure.

    Soundproofing, repairability, cost-effectiveness, a smooth finish, durability, fire resistance, thermal insulation, and simple maintenance are some of its other well-known qualities.

    Plastering is a low-maintenance surface option, while rendering is a coating typically applied to the exterior of buildings.

    Exterior walls can be rendered in a variety of styles by applying them in sheets with a trowel and finishing it with a variety of tools. The visualisation might have a flat, smooth look, or the homeowner can select a textured, patterned look.

    If you want perfect results while rendering your home, you should hire a skilled plasterer.

    Plasterers are experts in applying rendering material to masonry and smoothing it out to create a good finish, which is vital for rendering a wall.

    Numerous building and remodelling projects opt for rendering because of its many benefits, such as greater weather resistance, energy efficiency, property value, beauty, durability, low maintenance, and adaptability. Its versatility across brick, concrete, and blockwork means the designer has more room to express their vision.

    When deciding between plastering and rendering, it's important to think about the final use of the finished surfaces, the level of experience and skill needed for the job, any applicable building codes, the upkeep involved, and the availability of time.

    In comparison to rendering, which may require frequent cleaning or reapplication of protective coatings, plastering often requires less maintenance.

    You can plaster with sand, water, fibre, and gypsum. Sand enhances durability and malleability, and gypsum, a soft mineral, produces a smooth finish.

    The addition of water triggers a chemical reaction between the gypsum and the sand, and the addition of fibres like horsehair or synthetic fibres can increase the tensile strength and resistance to breaking of the plaster.

    Cement, sand, water, and additives like plasticisers and waterproofing chemicals are all part of a rendering's material list.

    Acrylic rendering, which uses acrylic polymers instead of cement-based rendering, provides greater flexibility, crack resistance, and colour options.

    The decision between plastering and rendering should be based on the project's goals, intended function, required skill level, building codes, upkeep requirements, deadline, and efficiency requirements. By giving careful thought to these issues, architects will be better able to make judgements that boost the visual attractiveness of their finished works.

    Content Summary

    • Plastering and rendering are methods of wall finishing that improve aesthetics and protect against sun and moisture.
    • Plastering is applied to interior walls, while rendering is used on exterior walls.
    • Plastering has a traditional aesthetic while rendering offers various finishes.
    • Plastering dates back to ancient times and involves using water, mineral aggregate, and a binding agent.
    • Plaster is often made with gypsum as it doesn't require additional binding agents.
    • Plaster is applied to a wood framework called lath.
    • Plastering involves applying multiple coats for the desired effect.
    • Plastering is versatile and can be used on different materials like brick and concrete.
    • Plaster offers sound insulation and is easy to repair.
    • Plastering is cost-effective and provides a smooth and even finish.
    • Plastering enhances durability and fire resistance.
    • Plastering provides thermal insulation and requires easy maintenance.
    • Rendering is used on exterior walls and has a higher cement content.
    • Rendering protects against weather elements and fire.
    • Rendering consists of lime gypsum, cement, sand, bonding agents, drying additives, and colourants.
    • Render is applied in sheets using a trowel and can be finished in different ways.
    • Professional plasterers should be hired for high-quality rendering.
    • Proper rendering techniques require skill and expertise.
    • Rendering provides improved weather resistance and energy efficiency.
    • Rendering enhances property value and offers aesthetic flexibility.
    • Rendering increases durability and requires low maintenance.
    • Rendering can be applied to various building materials.
    • Factors to consider when choosing between plastering and rendering include purpose, skill required, building regulations, maintenance, and timeline.
    • Plastering and rendering share some common materials like sand, cement, water, and sometimes lime.
    • Plastering uses gypsum for its smooth finish.
    • Different types and sizes of sand are used in plastering for different textures.
    • Water is added to the plaster to achieve the desired consistency.
    • Adding fibres to plaster improves its strength and resistance to cracking.
    • Rendering relies on cement as a binding agent.
    • Different sand types and grits are used in rendering for different finishes.
    • Water is added to the rendering mix for workability.
    • Additives can be used in rendering for specific enhancements.
    • Acrylic rendering uses acrylic polymers for a ready-to-use, crack-resistant finish.
    • Plastering and rendering have advantages in terms of aesthetics, durability, and insulation.
    • Plastering is popular for interior walls and ceilings.
    • Rendering provides weatherproofing and increased durability.
    • Plastering requires less maintenance compared to other materials.
    • Rendering can enhance a building's visual appeal and market value.
    • Plastering and rendering can be used for both residential and commercial projects.
    • Plastering and rendering have different application areas based on their strengths.
    • Consider the purpose and function of the surfaces when choosing between plastering and rendering.
    • Skill and expertise are important factors in implementing plastering and rendering methods.
    • Building regulations may influence the choice between plastering and rendering.
    • Maintenance requirements differ between plastering and rendering.
    • Plastering may be faster in completing a project compared to rendering.
    • Plastering and rendering have different materials and techniques.
    • Plastering uses gypsum, sand, water, and fibres.
    • Rendering relies on cement, sand, water, and additives.
    • Different sand types are used in plastering and rendering for various purposes.
    • Acrylic rendering offers versatility, crack resistance, and colour options.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Plaster Finishes

    The most durable plaster finish is typically considered to be cement plaster or stucco. Cement plaster is known for its exceptional strength and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions, making it highly suitable for exterior applications. In addition, it provides excellent durability, impact resistance, and moisture resistance and can maintain its integrity over a long period.

    While it is possible to apply plaster finishes yourself, hiring a professional for optimal results is generally recommended. Applying plaster finishes requires skill, knowledge, and experience to ensure a smooth and professional-looking outcome. Professionals have expertise in surface preparation, proper application techniques, and the ability to troubleshoot any issues. Hiring a professional can save you time, effort, and potential frustration while ensuring that the plaster finishes are applied correctly and achieve the desired result.

    Yes, plaster finishes are suitable for both interior and exterior applications. Depending on the type of plaster finish, they can be used to enhance the aesthetics and functionality of various surfaces in both indoor and outdoor settings. In addition, plaster finishes offer different properties and benefits, allowing versatile use in different environments. 

    Therefore, selecting the appropriate plaster finish specifically designed for the intended application is important, considering factors such as durability, weather resistance, and maintenance requirements.

    The time it takes for plaster finishes to cure fully can vary depending on several factors, including the type of plaster used, the thickness of the application, ambient temperature, and humidity levels. As a result, plaster finishes can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to fully cure. 

    During this time, the plaster undergoes a chemical reaction and gradually hardens and strengthens. Therefore, following the manufacturer's instructions and allowing sufficient time for the plaster finish to cure before subjecting it to any stress or applying additional treatments or coatings.

    Yes, plaster finishes can be customised to achieve specific colours or textures. Depending on the type of plaster finish and the desired outcome, pigments, dyes, or additives can be incorporated into the plaster mixture to create a wide range of colours. This allows for customization, matching, or complementing existing colour schemes or design preferences.

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