What is Plaster Finishing?


Generally speaking, plaster is a compound building material. It is not load bearing and used only for decoration or repair. There are many types of plaster defined by the compounding ingredients and application techniques.

Plastering is a very old form of wall decoration, perfected with time and with the introduction of acrylic, metallic and other additives that allow to achieve many more visual, Textual qualities.

There are various types of plaster according to its content and usage. Three main classes by content are:

• Lime Plaster
• Gypsum Plaster
• Cement Plaster


Lime Plaster


Made of calcium hydroxide, sand and water. It was widely used until the early 20th century, while today is mostly reserved for repair of lime plastered surfaces in historic homes. Another use of this type of plaster today is in “green” construction. It is caustic while wet and dries slowly. The resulting finish is quite smooth due to the usage of very fine sand.

A lime plaster wall finish creates an unparalleled depth that is both rich and tactile. It’s available in a variety of colors and sheens, says Wannamaker, and it can go anywhere if sealed properly, including saunas, showers, and exteriors.


Gypsum Plaster


Gypsum are a main plaster used in construction and decorating today. Gypsum is the interior application type of plaster and is made with heated calcium sulphate. It is very suitable for applications over the gypsum board (plasterboard, or drywall) and dries quickly. Gypsum plaster if not water resistant on its own, is relatively soft and can be textured. A wide range of looks and surfaces can be achieved with this type of plaster, especially with the use of different additives for elasticity, color, and texture.


Cement Plaster


Cement plasters are used mainly on the exterior walls and are known as stucco. It is a homogeneous mixture of Portland cement and sand with water. It's used on both internal as well as external surfaces. It has more or less same thermal conductivity as gypsum. Cement plaster is not 100 % permeable to water vapour. In the bathroom or in the kitchen it will lead to the formation of condensation on the walls and as consequences mould, fungi will develop and also floors will become slippery due to moisture.

It has more or less same acoustics properties as gypsum plaster and cannot be applied on smooth surfaces and is not a rust inhibitor. In its basic application, cement veneer imparts a more modern and industrial aesthetic, although it can also be tinted with color and applied with stencils for an artistic effect. It’s durable (although not structural at all) and as a water-based product, meets LEED criteria.

Surface Design has used it on walls, floors, and counters. If applied over a SkimStone Bonding Primer, it can also cover wood, laminate, and tile, as well as the old concrete. It’s intended to cover wherever the look of concrete is desired, including bathrooms and kitchens.




No matter the technique used, glazing or washing, stippling or strie—the possibilities via various decorative finish methods are truly endless. The sky’s the limit. Create patterns, old world textures, or designs of your very own style. Mimic a natural texture, such as wood grain or stone, invent a Trompe l’oeil, or gold leaf the ceiling.

To get started, Surface Design always recommends to its clients to find pictures of rooms that you like on Pinterest, and then showing those images in the consultation.

Having those visuals is a really good starting point to help our clients envision what they like. Use them in any room that you wish to create a dramatic, artistic, or truly personalized effect, or play around with accent walls.

Vinson Lim