Historic Plaster Finishes

Historic Plaster Finishes

Since the origins of plasterwork in the 14th century, the materials and techniques used to produce plaster finishes have evolved with subsequent generations as new materials have become available and subject to trends in interior design.

As practice has evolved, examples of earlier techniques and material-use have become of historical interest, necessitating careful conservation and – in some cases – specialist restoration.

At Farcroft Restorations Group, our plaster repair specialists are highly knowledgeable about all types of plaster finish, but have particular expertise in the conservation and restoration of period plasterwork, including lime plaster and lath and plaster.

Lime plaster

The breathable qualities of lime plaster have made it a popular choice for hundreds of years. However, despite its many benefits, it is softer than modern alternatives, making it more susceptible to damage and prone to becoming brittle and flaking or crumbling away over time.

Lime plaster restoration is time-consuming and requires specialist skill to achieve the desired results. Three coats must typically be applied, known as the ‘scratch coat’, the ‘floating coat’ and the ‘setting coat’, and the layers of course lime plaster and lime skim need to be applied with precision to ensure a durable and consistent finish.

Our skilled plasterers are masters at combining the dual elements of plasterwork – structure and finish – to achieve flawless results every time.

Lath and plaster

Before the modern method of plasterboard and skim was invented, lath and plaster was the most effective method of applying plaster to the walls and ceilings of a property. Involving nailing narrow strips of wood (laths) horizontally across wall studs and ceiling joists before coating them in lime plaster, it offered a breathable solution that also allowed for custom finishes like curves and arches.

Unfortunately, as properties finished with lath and plaster age, the natural settling process as well as moisture escaping from the wooden laths can cause cracks to form. With careful monitoring to detect any issues in their infancy, suitable preventative measures can be taken and sympathetic repairs carried out. However, left too long, the laths themselves can become damaged or the plaster may de-bond from them, potentially requiring the whole ceiling or wall to be replaced.

Our plaster repair specialists are equally able to detect early signs of lath and plaster deterioration to help avoid the need for extensive restoration works down the line, and to carry out those restoration projects where issues have been left untreated for too long.

Timber-framed properties

One of the most iconic examples of plasterwork seen throughout Britain is the black-and-white timber-framed houses that were typical of Tudor times. These took their appearance from the black tar that was painted on the timber to protect it, and the whiteish colour of the early lime-based plaster (known as pargeting plaster) used for the infill panels. Both genuine 16th century examples and replicas produced during a revival period in the 20th and 21st centuries exist today.

At Farcroft Restorations Group, our extensive portfolio of building restoration services means we have the knowledge and expertise to work on both the woodwork and plaster elements of these buildings, restoring their charming appearance.

Years of expertise have led us to develop specialist techniques, enabling us to undertake many different types of restoration


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