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Best Type Of Plaster To Use

There are hundreds of plaster types, each with its own characteristic properties. While most plasters look identical on the outside, their compositions and their applications differ from one type of plaster to the next.

Generally speaking, you will find more than a dozen types of plaster on the market today. But what is the best type of plaster available or you?

This article hopes to address this for you. By the end of this, you’ll get a clear understanding of all the different types of plasters to use for your property.

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What is plaster?

Plaster is a building material used for walls and ceilings, either of which can be of different levels of thickness altering the size of the rooms. Plasters are a great option for older homes or apartments, since they blend in with the aesthetics of a place, while proving to be strong and lightweight enough to not interfere with stability.

They’re used in applications as diverse as interior partition walls, rustic-looking furniture, exterior stucco, baseboard moulding, faux stone, and decorative plaster finishes that look like granite or marble.

In fact, the original plaster, commonly called gypsum plaster, was discovered many years ago and it is still one of the most popular plasters because it is versatile, affordable and easy to use.

What are the different types of plasters?

As mentioned earlier there are several types of plaster available on the market, all of which have different applications. Let’s look at each in turn while also exploring the best type of plaster suitable for your needs.

Browning plaster

Browning plaster is a decorative plaster that’s used as a base for paint and other decorative endeavours. It’s very similar to bonding plaster, but more absorbent, and thus most useful with more absorbent surfaces. They are used by professional plasterers as an undercoat for paint and adornments. It’s a versatile base for painting, good mouldings and decorations.

It is perhaps not as versatile as bonding plaster and is used more specifically where a little more visual ‘character’ and texture is sought. Browning plaster can be coloured and made more or less absorbent – the amount of water it retains – however, browning plaster cannot be used on its own.

There are several reasons behind choosing browning plaster for your interior. The first would be the price, since it is cheaper than other types of plaster around. Obviously, the amount you save this way can be put to better use in other areas, especially if you are trying to keep costs low during the building phase of renovation.

best type of plaster
Source: Designing Buildings

Bonding plaster

Just as with browning plaster, bonding plaster is also a viable option to use as an undercoat on which other things are added. Bonding plaster is a great choice for walls and other structural components and can be used on both new and existing home constructions.

It’s an ideal wall plaster which utilizes the intrinsic strength of gypsum to come up with its own structure that can withstand all kinds of intense weather conditions.

They have very few limitations, especially when it comes to the condition of the wall. However, if you are to use bonding plaster on an existing wall, make sure that you prepare the surface using a wire brush or gritstone before starting with the actual plastering.

Bonding plaster is easy to mold into the desired shape and easy to apply to any surface. Once applied, it dries quickly and can be painted over. Any liquid that spills into the bonding plaster will not affect the plaster.

Thistle Plaster 

As the name suggests, thistle plaster is produced from a combination of two materials: portland cement and lime. These two components are the main base materials for any kind of plaster.

It’s just an ordinary finish plaster that bonds to both interiors and exteriors, to interiors far better than browning plaster does. It is the finishing coat to any plastering job. Thistle plaster dries harder than browning plaster, although not as hard as bonding plaster.

It cures with contact with air and is different from other types of plaster. Thistle or finish plasters are great for small repair jobs, minor cracks and minor holes in walls, and repairing wooden laths and frames (called “coffers”).

Thistle plaster is renowned for its strength. It is able to stand up to considerable wear and still remain in good condition. It is also equally resistant to fire fumes, fumes from chemicals, and acids. It has other qualities that make it worth considering when choosing a finish plaster.

Carlite plaster

Carlite plaster, is one the best type of plaster, and is usually put on jobs that are being done with other types of plaster. For example, you could use carlite after applying a thistle, to cover up any imperfections in the background. 

But also, carlite plaster is very durable and can last for years without replacements. Carlite plaster is easy to use and install, which makes it an attractive option for both DIY enthusiasts and professional interior decorators.

One of the main differences between carlite and thistle is the time it takes to set. The former takes approximately three hours while the latter is much faster and takes just about an hour and a half. This makes thistle a more popular choice, however carlite is also pretty decent when it comes to durability. So, carlite is scratch resistant and generally has a strong impact.

Hardwall plaster

Hardwall is a premixed plaster which you add water to until the consistency is right. It’s available in dry powder form that you can mix with water and use straight away. Alternatively, you can get it in pre-mixed liquid form. The powder has a shelf life of 12 months and should be carefully stored to avoid contamination and moisture retention. Make sure it’s not mixed with any other product before use; if any doubt exists, contact your local supplier.

Hardwall is very similar to wallpapering when it comes to application; instead of sticking it onto wallpaper, however, you stick it directly on your wall. On a new plaster wall, brush off all dust and dirt and apply a thin coat of hardwall over the entire surface. After this dries you can apply one or more coats of your selected decorative plaster.

Dri-coat Plaster

Dri-coat plaster is a gypsum plaster that is applied in one coat and doesn’t require a second application. Dri-coat plaster cures at about the same rate as other plasters, but it may be more expensive because it requires extra mixing time to incorporate the additives.

They are not suitable for all situations. It breaks down when exposed to moisture. For example, it will not be suitable for use where the ground conditions are damp or there is movement of water in the substructure.

Tough coat plaster

Tough coat plaster also has a much different appearance than the other types available since it’s made with a much finer texture and therefore can appear smooth and almost like cloth. Once applied and dried, it is extremely strong and has a slip resistant texture that makes it perfect for floors and ceilings.

However, tough coat plaster is not suitable for all interiors, because of its rough surface. However, it’s very popular with homeowners who are trying to do the work themselves. It’s cheaper than most alternatives, but it can still make a room look better.

One coat plaster

One coat plasters are the coats of plaster that you will probably end up using most often because they can function as both an undercoat and a finish.

They are widely used as an undercoat and as a finish by those renovating old houses or renovating new houses for which they want an old world look. It consists of lime putty and sand mixed with water until you achieve a demarcation between what is wet and what is dry. This is then applied to the surface of whatever is to be plastered and then carved by hand or feel into whatever pattern you desire.

However, if more than one layer of plaster is applied, the weight of the structure might increase to a considerable amount causing damage to the building. So it is advisable that you use single coat plaster for indoor walls and two layers on outdoor walls with sunlight exposure. 

Generally, one coat is used for repair jobs as it is a lot easier to get a smooth finish over smaller areas.

What is a Plaster Undercoat?

A plaster undercoat is a type of finish or primer paint that forms the base for other coats on a wall. Because the undercoat provides the foundation for everything else, it’s important that it be applied correctly. An undercoat needs to be strong and smooth so that subsequent coats will stick to it and form a smooth surface. A quality undercoat also needs to be flexible enough so that, when subsequent coats shrink and swell, they don’t crack.

When making plaster undercoats it is very important to get the mix right. The process is simple and straightforward, however the results will depend greatly on the skill of the user.

Cracks are to be expected in any wall, but if the first coat of plaster is applied to a wall with an imperfect base, it will crack badly, and so will every coat built on top of it. Since the first coat of plaster traps moisture to keep the plaster warm while setting, any imperfections will hold moisture and let water in. However, if you choose the best type of plaster available in the market, you should have less things to worry about.

What is a Plaster Topcoat?

In the simplest terms, the plaster topcoat is just a thin layer of paint applied to the scratch coat. When it is bought in a can from a hardware or home improvement store, it typically contains fungicide and mildewcide , but that’s not what makes it a topcoat. Rather, the surface of this last coat, called the ‘cure,’ will have a smoothness and gloss level that perfectly blends with your painted wall tones.

It is the final layer of coating necessary before you paint over the wall. Generally, in a three-coat system, the topcoat, otherwise known as the finish coat, goes on after the scratch and  undercoat. 

The topcoat provides a fine, uniform surface that showcases the beauty of a well-made paint job. It can be matte or glossy. For a matte topcoat, you could use a flat paint, a satin paint or an eggshell paint. You can also use a low-sheen formula for a soft luster.

The top coat is the last chance the painter gives you to get it right. The top coat is supposed to cover everything, level everything out and give it a nice finish. It doesn’t get any better than that. If the architect did a terrible job on the blueprints, there’s not much you can do about it at this stage of the construction. It’s therefore important that you choose the right plasterer with enough experience working on all three coat layers.

Average cost for plastering a wall

The amount charged by a plasterer depends on many factors, such as the number of days it takes to complete the job. The cost of plastering can be determined once all these factors are taken into consideration. There are also instances when external factors affect the cost. If you are looking for the best type of plaster for your requirements, there might be an increase in the material cost too.

Plastering a wall typically costs between £350 – £450 for a small sized room and £750+ for a larger room. There are additional costs that you would need to consider labor, scaffolding costs, waste disposal costs etc.

On the other hand, the average cost of plastering a ceiling is approximately £150 for a small room and between £250 – £300 for a larger room. Plastering a ceiling might take about 12 hours for it to be ready. A ceiling, wall or floor will cost roughly the same for material. But if you have a lot of particularly complex bits, then the labour cost could increase too.

In some instances, the estimation can be made based on square meter or square foot, which means that if a room is small, it should take less time to complete the job. The average cost in this case can range anything from £2 to £10 per square foot.

Looking for a local plasterer?

In most instances, choosing the best type of plaster can be overwhelming as there are various types for different purposes. Therefore, it’s always a good idea for homeowners to leave that decision to the plastering professionals who will recommend the ideal one to fit your requirement.

Our qualified plasterers at Ralph Plastering can do this exactly for you. Do get in touch with our team for more information and click here to view our plastering services.

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