Can you put earth plaster on drywall or gypsum?
We have some very inspiring people in The Mud Home Facebook Group; and a variety of artisans and building techniques. For the house renovators, Camilla MacDonald's and Erhard Groneth's work in Germany is going to be very interesting. It’s been wonderful to watch this farmhouse transform from a bunch of dust and brick like this...
And finally become this cosy, airy abode:
And it happened so fast!
Applying Earth Plaster to Difficult Surfaces
What’s a difficult surface for earth plaster? Any surface that isn’t porous and doesn’t breathe is going to be tough for clay: Portland cement, drywall and gypsum all fall into this category. What can happen is that because those materials don’t breathe, humidity collects behind the plaster and pushes it away from the wall.
But it certainly can be done. And I have to say, just by applying earth plaster you can radically transform the feel of your home.
How did Camilla Plaster her Walls?
Camilla had a tricky surface to plaster. She enrolled in The Mud Home Perfect Earth Plaster Course in the winter, and her work has contributed to an extra section in that course. It’s an example of the beautiful results you can create when you know what you’re doing.
1. First Camilla tested a lot of different primers and plasters on small areas. I cannot stress how important that is, because no one else’s plaster recipe is ever going to be the same as yours. Your walls, your climate, your clay and the atmosphere of your building are never going to exactly mirror someone else’s.
2. She properly prepped her surface (or substrate). In this case it was gypsum plaster and drywall. For a totally natural primer for non-porous surfaces, you could use wheatpaste mixed with clay and possibly sand. But sometimes a number of variables will conspire, and that won’t work. In which case you can do what Camilla did and buy one of the professionally formulated primers on the market. In her case she used Superputzgrund. Mike Wye in the UK also has one or two primers.
3. Finally she applied layers of plaster to her walls, allowing each layer to dry properly before adding the next. In some areas she added just two layers, and in others the full three layers. Was there a difference?
“Good question,” she says. “There is no visual difference, as the clay paint top layer is identical. But I would say the air in the rooms with the thicker layers is nicer...”
Using Clay Paint
One thing I love about this earth plaster job is the way Camilla has painted the walls. She used a white clay paint, and then added natural pigments to it. The result is original, light and airy. You may not have realised earth plaster can look this sleek. Her bathroom is quite a masterpiece.
I have now finished adding a new section to the Earth Plaster Course on Creating Beautiful Finishes for Your Plaster. It's a very comprehensive course, so take a look.
Do you really need to do a course? Can’t you just research a bit online and slap it on? It’s only mud, isn’t it?
Well, that’s what I did of course on my first earthbag house. And that’s why it took me nearly 2 years to get my plaster right. So yes sure, you can do what I did. If you’ve got plenty of time and patience, go for it :))
If on the other hand you want a simple but in-depth guide (with videos) on how to get your plaster looking great on a whole bunch of different substrates - earthbag, cob, strawbale, stone, or even drywall - then the course is going to be the easier and potentially cheaper option.
Here’s what some of the other course participants have said:
"I have two bathtubs of plaster ready to go Atulya! Your course was invaluable." Cath Coffey, earthbag builder in the UK.
"Very informative and good instructions in the text and videos! Absolutely helpful, thanks for putting it together." Nanda Doornik, cob oven builder in Ireland.
"Atulya has the ability to make natural building very accessible, empowering the participant to believe in their ability to do it." Emma Batchelor, course participant.
"Through the third lesson and loving it!" Wynter Miller, course participant.
This online course will show you:
Camilla is also one of The Mud Home private Facebook Group members. It's the most inexpensive way you can get in-depth help and advice on your project from me. You can read more about joining that here.
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