Understanding Plaster

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Understanding Plaster
Written by Elizabeth Wood
Editor In Chief, United Home Improvement

Understanding your homes wall coverings is essential if you plan to be an active member of your homes remodeling, repairs, and decoration. You will need to know what your interior wall surface is made of in order to make safe and effective decisions regarding paint, wall treatments, and even when building an addition.

Plaster happens to be the most common form of interior wall surface. Generally, plaster is a mixture of lime or gypsum with sand and water. Once applied, it hardens into a smooth solid and is used to cover walls and ceilings. It is popular for its flexibility and knack for lessening noise. Plaster is commonly used to finish interior wall work, generally over brick, stone or frame construction.

Plasters durability can be compared with concrete. Both are made from a mixture of dry compounds. A chemical reaction occurs when water is added to this mixture. The ingredients begin a crystallization process that eventually causes the plaster to become solid. The result is a dense, hard surface.

It is important to watch out for plastered walls forming stress-cracks. Harmless cracks will return with regularity no matter how often you repair them. Definitely keep an eye open for loose or crumbly cracks, holes, and bulges because these may mean you have a leak. If you have a leak, fix it before doing any work on the walls. Plaster repair can be a do-it-yourself project or handled by a professional plasterer. Even older homes with more decorative plastering can be repaired with the proper skills and tools.

In the past, plaster was applied to thin wood strips called lath boards. Additional elements were often added to the plaster to make it stronger. In more recent times, veneer plaster systems have been introduced. Veneer plaster systems are similar to drywall, such as being applied over special gypsum core boards and stimulating a similar appearance to plaster. However, is it typically faster to install, more durable, and exceedingly stronger.

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