Exterior Plasters – The Skin that Protects Your Walls

One of the things that we do is plaster for natural buildings. We really like this work, and are continually inspired by the opportunities to use locally available clay to finish the exterior and interiors of buildings. We also work with lime, and clay/ lime mixtures. Now, we have a bit of a bias towards clay. We can’t deny that. However, it is really important for you to decide what process and material is suited to you. This means thinking about your building site, potential exposure to water and moisture, your habits, your commitment to maintenance, availability of material in your area, etc.

Applying earthen plaster in straw bale at dusk

Conventional builders try to thwart water infiltration by wrapping homes in plastic, inside and out. Moisture exits a building through windows, or more likely through some mechanical, electricity consuming air exchanger. These buildings are tight, often stuffy and generally unpleasant to live in.

Earthen buildings, be they cob, light clay-straw, or straw bale, take a different approach.  Rather than relying on mechanical means (e.g. an air exchanger), the walls and their coatings are designed to “breathe” or, more appropriately, configured to allow vapour to pass directly through the walls. For this to work vapour barriers are omitted with these natural wall systems. If they are not and water does get in, you are bound to get compost in your walls! If this seems important, please read more here. This article will give you more information about the different options available. Visit this page for a full list of resources regarding earthen plasters.

How We Can Help

Making the right decision from the beginning is so important, and we want to give you as many tools as possible to facilitate your choice. Please visit our ‘Building Services‘ page for information on how we can help with your project. 


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