The last of our flakey earth plaster came off the walls this week.
And with that I think we have marked a bit of a new beginning. The atmosphere is lifting and things are moving on. It really feels like we made the right decision. We decided that lime plaster was the way forward, and that has been the main task of the week.
We are very fortunate that Dylan from Ben Law’s Roundwood Timber Framing Company has come back to help us on site for a couple of weeks. He did a lot of the lime plastering on our straw bale walls, and we needed his help to make sure we got it right. He was here throughout the the main part of the build last year, and its been great having him back.
I’m not quite sure why we decided to start at opposite ends of the panels in the picture above, but I’m hoping the one I did turns out as well as his.
The first part of the process is to wet the laths with water, this prevents the wood from sucking the moisture too quickly out of the plaster. Then the first coat of lime plaster is applied. The first coat has animal hair mixed in with it, this helps to bind the plaster together to make a solid base. Once this has dried the right amount it is scratched all over to create a key for the top coat to bind on to.
A top coat of plaster is then applied. This will be left until it is almost dry, it will then be rubbed down with a damp sponge to create an even surface before we apply several coats of limewash. The limewash provides a breathable protective skin for the lime plaster as well as being decorative. Lime has been used for centuries in construction. It uses far less energy than cement in its production and absorbs CO2 as it sets. Its breathable properties should mean that it works well with the timber frame and wooden panels it sits within.
The laths are starting to dissappear again under their new coating, we are hoping that within a week or two we will have the plastering pretty much finished and will be able to start moving on to some of the other jobs that are remaining.
In the picture above you can see the progress we are making, and if you look closely above the tie beam in between the roundwood joists you can make out the last remaining internal panels of earth plaster. These small panels seem to have worked out allright, so we are keeping them. They will be a reminder of the time we spent wading around in mud.