The Benefits of Clay Plaster

In our steading/ barn conversion, we are aiming to use materials and finishes that are as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. One step we are taking to make a healthy and sustainable build is using clay plaster.

In finishing one wall prior to the arrival of our Rayburn (delivery has been delayed but it is due to be delivered soon) we have explored using this material for the first time.

We used clay plaster on the non-tiled areas of this wall, applied onto a substrate of wood wool board. We chose clay because of its eco-friendly properties. But also because of the breathability of the material, and its ability to absorb moisture and control humidity. Clay plaster also has beneficial properties when it comes to acoustics.

Using clay plaster for the first time was a lot of fun. We were looking for a rustic sort of effect, and love the rough and imperfect yet attractive finish that we have been able to achieve.

Unlike other plasters, clay plaster can be reworked – so there is no wastage as the plaster dries – and if you don’t quite like how things look, you can go back over an area to amend it later. This is perfect for novice self-builders like us!

We’ve only done a small area, and have to return to other works on the structure, plumbing and electrics. But I am looking forward to applying more clay plaster as it was definitely one of the most tactile and satisfying jobs we’ve done so far. I am also looking forward to experimenting more with the properties of this material, and plan on embedding sea glass, shells, pebbles etc to make a mosaic in clay in a doorway area later on.

We had to buy clay, because space restrictions on our property restrict digging options… but others have had great success in using clay from their very own land for renders and plasters. I am by no means an expect in construction, but after this initial foray into the material, I would certainly recommend using clay plaster to other self-builders.

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