Dating back to the 14th century, plaster finishes have been widely used throughout iconic eras of historic Britain. With the methodology and materials adapting and transforming over the decades. In addition to this as newly discovered materials and application methods are utilised, our craftsmen and women have adopted these methods. This has resulted in these original techniques and features becoming of historical interest and therefore require specialist conservation and sometimes restoration.
Lime-based plaster with its breathable properties has made it a popular building material in construction for hundreds of years. Whilst lime plaster has many beneficial qualities, it is softer and not as robust as its modern replacements, making it susceptible to impact damage. Over time, lime plaster can become brittle and tends to flake or crumble. The process of lime plaster restoration requires several steps to be followed precisely to be successful. This can be a lengthy process as the layers of coarse lime plaster and the lime skim need to be right to create a durable and consistent finish. Typically there are three coats when applying lime plaster, typically known as the “scratch coat”, the “floating coat” and the “setting coat”.
Before plasterboard was widely used, lath & plaster was the most effective method of applying plaster to the walls and ceilings of a property. This has now given way in the main to the faster, more practical method of plasterboard and skim. As the plaster used for this technique was lime plaster, the properties with this were more ‘breathable’, and allowed for more custom finishes such as curves and arches. On the other hand, as these properties age, the plaster brings its own risks and requires monitoring to examine & prevent early signs of deterioration.
These warning signs can be cracks forming from natural settling and moisture leaks escaping through the wood lathes. Caught early enough we can repair these deficiencies without replacing the whole ceiling or wall. If however there is damage to the lathes or the plaster has de-bonded from them to a significant extent, removal of the lathes may be required followed by sympathetic replacement.
One of the most iconic examples of plaster in British history is the timber framed houses typical of the Tudor era. Noteworthy for being black and white in colour, the timber would be painted in tar for its protective qualities & parjeting plaster (early lime based plaster) would be used for the infill panels. With many structures remaining today (either genuine 16th century builds or replicated in ‘revival’ periods of the 20th & 21st century) we combine our skills in timberwork & plaster to restore these properties.