Words by Lori Bolon
Plaster has been a go-to construction material since at least the time of the ancient Egyptians, and is now having its renaissance largely thanks to its incredible durability and timeless aesthetic. We love seeing how the world’s top designers breathe new life into these age-old materials.
Technology has come a long way since the time of the Pharaohs, so we now have many different types of plaster finishes and colours available. This means there is sure to be something that suits everyone. Sorry, exposed brick, wallpaper and paint - it’s plaster’s moment!
Before we break down all the different types of finishes, it’s worth mentioning that plaster is more expensive than painted drywall as it is more labour intensive to install (most require at least three coats). That said, it typically lasts longer than normal paint so consider it a long-term investment.
01. Venetian Plaster
Venetian Plaster is a decorative wall finish and perhaps the most commonly used in residential projects, thanks to plaster-loving designers such as Axel Vervoodt and Vincent Van Duysen. Originating in Italy, this traditional material has been around for centuries. Venetian plaster is actually a general term that refers to putty made from fired limestone combined with water. This is then mixed together to make lime plaster.
What differentiates Venetian plaster from other plasters is that there are no aggregates mixed in. Tadelakt and Marmorino, for example, include aggregates such as marble, granite, or glass. They’re similar in appearance to Venetian, but those aggregates add a thickness and an underlying subtle texture to the overall appearance.
Venetian Plaster provides a smooth, bespoke surface that is both waterproof and breathable. This means it is popular in bathrooms and kitchens, often used for splash backs. It can also be colour matched to almost any colour!
Tadelakt (pronounced tad-eh-lact) is a traditional waterproof and decorative plaster originating from Morocco. When the ingredients of lime plaster and black soap made from olives are combined, a chemical reaction between the two creates a waterproof membrane.
This ancient craft creates a seamless finish and offers elegant nuances of colour and grain, flexible to avoid hairline cracks or crazing. Tadelakt has a honed, smooth surface reminiscent of natural stone, allowing for a more organic and soft feel.
03. Micro cement
Microcement is a decorative cement-based coating made of cement, water-based resins, additives and mineral pigments that can be applied on a multitude of vertical and horizontal surfaces thanks to its great adherence. This construction material stands out because it can be applied directly onto existing materials such as tiles, plasterboard, floor tiles, marble, terrazzo or plaster, amongst many others. And it doesn’t stop there, micro cement can be applied onto furniture and be used both indoors and outdoors.
Often associated with commercial projects, microcement is ideal for a modern, minimalist design or if you prefer something unique you can opt for a textural finish such as brushed or raked.
Wall plastering not only looks beautiful, but also carries sustainable benefits as it doesn’t emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are bad for air quality. It also doesn’t support the growth of mould, and it has no impact on a landfill. The underlying material of plaster is naturally occurring limestone and gypsum, so a plaster wall finish is, quite literally, a coating of earth for your walls.