Plaster has been used for thousands of years and was used by many ancient civilizations dating back as far as 9000 B.C. Plaster is also used in art and has become a standard material in the construction of homes and other buildings. Today, plaster veneer can often be rare because it has been replaced by drywall board (sheetrock) to keep costs down. As a result, it is often difficult to find local tradesmen skilled in the practice. Plaster veneer is the most common standard practice. Plaster veneer works fantastic in renovating older buildings because it is much easier than re-creating the original plaster covering.
Compared to drywall, which feels warm and soft, plaster feels cold and hard. Plaster may be painted, but also unpainted plaster can be acceptable in certain decorative circumstances. The natural plaster color may also be modified by adding tints in the mixing process. Although plaster can be more expensive than mud and tape drywall due to it being more labor and materials intensive, and the results often prove to be worth it.
The biggest advantages of plaster over drywall, aside from the decorative results are that plaster is much harder and therefore more durable than standard drywall surfaces. Plaster is also more convenient for painting, if desired, or to create color by mixing tint directly into the plaster.
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Our tradesmen are experts in all types of interior plaster, including Venetian, Veneer, or Smooth trowel. Plaster creates beautiful, artistic finishes that add value and comfort to any room. Venetian plaster is some of the most beautiful and vivid colors you can imagine.
Here’s some history on plaster and tip and tricks when working with drywall.
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Most homeowners have very little knowledge of drywall and how drywall became the primary material used in home construction. In the old days, most houses had plaster walls. Examples of lath and plaster construction can still be found in older homes and buildings where the materials have been preserved.
You start with framing like 2x4s that form the skeleton of the walls or ceiling of a home or building. Once in place, tradesmen would nail up strips of wood horizontally an inch or two in width with a little space in between each one. This provided a base to apply the plaster with an application tool that forces the plaster into the gaps and between the gaps and leaves a flat smooth layer on the front exposed to the interior of the room.
The depth of the temporary guides was typically about a quarter inch wide and another helper would feed new plaster onto the board as the plaster is applied in more quantity. When the wall is fully covered, the vertical guides are removed and their slots filled in, leaving a fairly uniform undercoat. In this way, the plaster basically fills into the gap and that’s actually what often leads to failure of the plaster coating over many decades of movement.
After a second coat of plaster is applied in the same fashion, you end up with roughly half an inch of plaster and then a white finish coat goes on over that. The process of actually applying the plaster sounds kind of cool, but imagine having to nail up all of those strips. This would be extremely time consuming and leave a lot of room for error. Well, leave it to new technology and innovation to solve the problem. Around the middle of the 1900s’ like the 1940s or so lath and plaster became less common as it was replaced by a new system called button board. Button Boards are gypsum wall panels with holes in them that nailed to the studs and then skin coated with plaster with the plaster keying into the holes in the button board. Button Board panels are two feet by four feet in size, so this sped up the installation process considerably. On top of that, the process eliminated the need to apply two coats of plaster and all in less than the time it would take to nail up the framing for the plaster in the old method and waiting for each coat to dry along the way.
This made construction so much faster because all you needed to do is to nail up the Button Board and apply the skin coat of plaster and you are done. I remember having this kind of plaster in my childhood home built in the 1950.
Eventually, in the 1970s creative innovators figured out that they could completely eliminate the skim coat of plaster if they made larger panels made of gypsum. At that point, the standard size was now four feet by eight feet and larger sizes were also available. The result is that you can have a flat wall and only need to apply drywall compound to hide the seams, screws and nails instead of skin coating the entire wall.
That’s just a quick and simplified history of how plaster led to the use of drywall but if you know when your house was built, you can get a good idea of what type of wall covering you might be dealing with.
That pretty much covers the basics of the history of plaster. Check out our Drywall Service page for tips and tricks on modern drywall products!
If you need a drywall expert to manage your residential or commercial drywall project, let DFW Drywall Installers take care of everything for you!
Phone (424) 903-2668