Monday, May 26, 2008

What Can Brown Do For you

I wonder if I’ll get sued by UPS for that blog title? Either way, what brown can do for me is to put me one step closer to being finished with the plaster work on the butler’s pantry. I was able to get the brown coat on today and it went pretty smooth. No pun intended. The idea with the brown coat, as best I can tell, is to get the walls to the proper thickness and to get them reasonably smooth.

The scratch (first) coat is almost straight StructoLite. The StructoLite has the perlite in it and it makes for a very coarse surface. It is called the “scratch coat” because in some applications the plasterer will actually scratch the surface before putting on the brown coat. This improves adhesion. If this were a stucco job I would probably have the brown coat with some sort of texture and this would be the end. I will be putting on a finish coat of straight Diamond Finish Plaster. The finish plaster is lime, gypsum, and dolomite and reminds me of Plaster of Paris.

The brown coat is a 50/50 mix of the StructoLite and the Diamond plaster. You can get it almost perfect with one pass. I leave it like this – a little coarse – to give the finish coat something to grab on to. The finish coat is very thin, maybe a 1/16th of an inch, and goes on very fast. I’m left with almost a full bag of finish plaster and about a quarter of a bag of StructoLite. That’s pretty damn good, but I think I’m going to need another bag of the finish plaster. I think it will take about a bag and half to do the room.

The work today was much easier than putting on the scratch coat yesterday. It was the same amount of wall surface, but required more finesse and less grunt work. The finish coat is even more finesse and less grunt work. I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not when I finished the plaster in the bathroom, but there was no sanding involved once the finish coat is on. That, to me, is the best aspect of plaster – No Sanding!


C&C said...

Wow, you are so brave to do the plaster instead of sheetrock. Sounds like you know what you're doing though - can't wait to see the finished results!

Katherine said...

So what you are saying is that, when you plastered the bathroom, there sanding?

Greg said...

I'll need to check my notes, but I think I wrote something to that effect.

Jennifer said...

First off, thanks for viting our blog. We love to hear from people who have been there and done that. It helps us to know that we are not the first blind fools to buy a house in the condition it is!

Second, I love your posts. Seeing what we have ahead of us with projects enables us to determine what order we need to put things in. It also clears up the "shall we plaster or sheetrock" question. I think we choose sheetrock.

Can't wait to read more

Greg said...

Jen & Stan,

Wait till the sanding begins. You may feel otherwise.

Omar said...

Very cool. I'm sure my contractor would laugh if I told him I wanted him to replaster the walls instead of drywalling. A lost art for sure..

Larry said...

Hmmm...I'm doing a different technique for my plaster project. I'll have to look into yours and try it for the next one!

Greg said...


I would love to hear what you're doing. I'm always looking for way to improve how I do things.

Are you doing lime plaster? I told myself I was going to try that with this room, but in the end I went with what I know.

Bones said...

Do you think you might try colored plaster?

mickmaguire said...

I n response to your post to Larry. Its always good to know other techniques but I think you did best to stick with what you know. I'm originally from the UK where plaster is still a lot more prevalent (though almost all new construction is now sheet rock) as the switchover came later. My grandfather was a plasterer all his working life and my uncle too - he even worked at 10 Downing street on ornate plasterwork.

But I digress - I too learned to plaster in the later 80's. I gutted and fixed up a 1940's house. All the plaster was falling off the walls so I learned the skills of my grandfather and re-plastered the whole house. The techniques and materials are similar to those used here and particularly those you are using.

The key with plastering (in my experience) is that its like learning a musical instrument. practice practice practice. The more you do the better you get - switching techniques / materials will set you back like switching from one instrument to another. Though often that variety is fun (or so I am told).

Congratulations on acquiring the skills Greg, not many people have the tenacity to learn, but its rewarding when you do.

BTW - they do wane some unless you keep practicing! :)

Greg said...

"BTW - they do wane some unless you keep practicing! :)"

Oh, I'll get plenty of practice over the next few years. ;-)