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  • Writer's pictureErin Hackett

What is Plaster and Why is it All the Rage?

Image via DesignSkool

Do you feel like you've been seeing plaster-this-plaster-that everywhere these days? This finish is definitely having a moment! Plaster can be used be for a variety purposes, so before we jump into how to use plaster in our homes, let's make sure we understand what it is. Wikipedia to the rescue!

Plaster is a building material used for the protective or decorative coating of walls and ceilings and for moulding and casting decorative elements. In English, "plaster" usually means a material used for the interiors of buildings, while "render" commonly refers to external applications.
The most common types of plaster mainly contain either gypsum, lime, or cement, but all work in a similar way. The plaster is manufactured as a dry powder and is mixed with water to form a stiff but workable paste immediately before it is applied to the surface. The reaction with water liberates heat through crystallization and the hydrated plaster then hardens.

Okay, so now we understand that plaster is basically just a building material... great! Although plaster has been used to craft walls, different types of moulding and decorative accents in buildings for thousands of years, today it has applications across many areas of the home. One of the most common is the fireplace and range hood. Plank and Pillow did a great tutorial on how modern plaster range hoods are crafted. You should check it out if you are curious about the process! Long story short, the process involves framing out the piece, covering it with drywall, applying a special primer that allows the plaster to stick, and then plastering the piece using a skip trowel application (if you're fancy). The result can look something like this:

Design: Studio McGee | Via

So, why is plaster having a moment?

Great question! To me, the answer has to do with a slow progression in design trends that are favoring natural materials more and more. Plaster is made of ground up limestone which means it is non-toxic and emits zero VOCs. Additionally, its application is always slightly imperfect giving it an earthy and imperfect feel that is being embraced in the design world right now.

Plaster is being used in so many creative ways in homes today. Let's explore some plaster inspiration!

Plaster Inspo

Plaster isn't just for fireplaces and range hoods, it can make a staircase look ethereal and dreamy.

One of my favorite uses of plaster is as a textural, earthy wall covering. Here are a few of my favorite examples.

Design: Amber Interiors | Photography: Tessa Neustadt | Via All Sorts of

A note on plaster in bathrooms, particularly those with showers: Although finished plaster is porous and therefore susceptible to mold, there have been recent improvements in matte sealers that you can apply over your plaster to make it appropriate for even a humid environment like a shower. Don't be afraid to use this finish throughout your home, with proper research, preparation and care.

Although a beautiful trend, applying plaster to your home is not typically an inexpensive undertaking. I highly recommend hiring a local plaster expert if you intend on crafting any plaster structures in your home or if you'll be applying a plaster finish over drywall. It can be a very tricky medium to work with if you don't have experience! If you have DIY attitude and are down to practice a little bit, Portola Paints sells their Roman Clay plaster finish by the gallon. It is said to be easier to use than traditional plasters and comes in a variety of colors.

For those that want to get the plaster look in their home without the commitment of major construction, you can shop these plaster and plaster-inspired products from around the web.

For more plaster products and inspiration, follow Hackett House Studio on Pinterest!

Hackett House Studio is a boutique interior design firm located in Columbus, Ohio offering full-service and virtual design services, as well as concierge styling and interior photography. Please visit the services page of our website to learn more about us, and to inquire about working with us.

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