Lime Plastering job- update from the road (Edinburgh EH4 Stockbridge)

I've been working as a plasterer in Edinburgh for over 15 years. I'm time served with over 25 years experience as a plasterer. One of the most common aspects of plastering work is traditional lime plastering. Because I do a lot of period property renovation in Edinburgh, I see incredible results with traditional lime plastering. I also find evidence of an ancient lime plastering technique-- horsehair plastering-- more on that below. 

First, the benefits of traditional lime plastering

Lime plaster is used as a binding material, and works well in repair and restoration work. It's one of my common jobs in restoring an old home in Edinburgh and West Lothian where I work. Here are the main benefits of lime plastering: 

  • Lime plaster is less affected by water and will not soften or dissolve like drywall and earthen or gypsum plaster. Unlike gypsum or clay plaster, lime plaster is sufficiently durable and resistant to the elements to be used for exterior plastering.
  • Lime plaster sets up to a solid mass that is durable yet relatively flexible. Hydraulic lime plaster is not as hard as cement plaster. Non-hydraulic limes and historic limes were graded as feeble, moderate and eminent.
  • The elevated pH of the lime in the plaster acts as a fungicide; preventing mold from growing in lime plaster.
  • Compared to cement plaster, plaster made from hydrated lime is less brittle and less prone to cracking, requiring no expansion joints. It will not detach from the wall when subjected to shear stress due to expansion inflicted by solar radiation and moisture. Unlike cement plaster, it will shield softer materials from shear stresses.

Source:Wikipedia 

If you look into this, traditional lime plastering has a long history of use. These benefits above hold up. As a technique, it dates back 8,000 years to the Ancient Egyptians, Aztecs and ancient Jordan.  

Common in Edinburgh's traditional lime plastering...horsehair!

While working on traditional lime plastering jobs in Edinburgh and West Lothian, I find quite a few homes still showing the use of horeshair plastering. Tufts of horse's hair is mixed into the lime plastering, for texture and insulation as well as to give the wall a unique aesthetic. 

I find some interesting things often when restoring a period home or property! Recently while doing traditional lime plastering, I have been finding quantities of horsehair plaster in the walls around Edinburgh, including in Stockbridge and Morningside. 

In Edinburgh, and throughout Scotland and the UK, this traditional lime plastering practice ended in the 1950's. It involved using horsehair to reinforce and create texture while reducing working time.

Horsehair plastering was part of the traditional lime plastering work. If you have a horesehair plaster wall, you might want to retain it. According to this site, these are the benefits of keeping it and restoring or repairing the wall vs. lime plastering:

  • The look of horsehair plaster walls is very hard to be copied using drywall.
  •  Homes with horsehair plaster walls tend to be worth a lot more than homes with drywall.
  •  Horsehair plaster walls have a historical value as well. They’re a piece of history.
  •  Because of the density of horsehair plaster walls, they’re much more soundproof than drywall.
  •  Plaster is much more fire-resistant than drywall, making it a much safer choice.
  •  Horsehair plaster walls are also much more insulated than drywall. This will keep both the heat and the cool inside your home better. In return, you might even save on your monthly electricity bills.
  •  Horsehair plaster walls are much more contour than drywall. Creating curves and custom-designed arches are much more comfortable with horsehair plaster.

Rennovation and conservation of your Edinburgh property is important. It is important it is done well. Sadly the younger generation of plasterers are not skilled in traditional lime plastering and may not recognize the historic value of horsehair plastering use. 

In Edinburgh we have a lot of experience with rennovating historic properties. It is important on historic property rennovation to repair any damage first, then traditional lime plastering can begin. 

Best regards,

Derek

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