What Is Plaster

People are often confused by the terms that are used to describe the coating used to seal straw bale walls. Plaster is a generic, catchall term for any kind of goop that is smeared on a wall while in a wet (or plastic) state and that dries or cures to become a hard, brittle substance, capable of withstanding weather and structural forces.

Plasters are made up of two basic ingredients: an aggregate (usually sand) and a binder. It is the latter that distinguishes the four basic types of plaster used for straw bale construction:

• Earthen or clay plasters

• Lime plasters

• Cement/lime plasters

• Gypsum plasters

Acrylic and synthetic stuccos are not permeable, and should never be used on a bale building.

Each type of plaster offers its own particular advantages and disadvantages in straw bale construction. It is good to learn lots about the plaster you are planning to use, since a little education early on can prevent many problems during the application.

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