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The Basics of Lime Plaster – All You Need to Know

Lime is a fantastic product that has been used for already thousands of years as a plastering agent for both interiors and exteriors.

Even though recent years have made other options like cement more popular when compared to lime plaster the choice is obvious.

Lime plaster has a variety of excellent benefits ranging from being easily moldable, autogenous, allows the building to breathe and it is a very durable option that doesn’t crack, unlike cement.

Experts in lime plastering recommend using it for both interiors and exteriors, and it is widely used in the repair & reconstruction of more ancient buildings.

If you are wondering what makes lime plaster so fantastic and why it is so recommended by many, then you surely need to understand the basics of lime plaster.

Aside from the benefits already mentioned, lime has a variety of different uses and can be employed in the use of mortar, paintings, sculptures and of course both interior and exterior plastering.

How is lime made?

  • The first step of making lime is by creating what is known as “Quicklime” which is a material created by gathering materials high in calcium carbonate such as shells, chalk or limestone itself. Once gathered, these materials are placed and burned inside a kiln, which leaves us with calcium oxide.
  • Once the quicklime is prepared, then it is placed on the water which creates a very quick and hot reaction. The reaction quicklime does with water leaves us with either hydrated lime or calcium hydroxide. This process as a whole is known as “Slaking”. Usually, this whole process is avoided due to the dangerous reaction quicklime does with water, so lime experts usually purchase calcium hydroxide.
  • When exposed to air the calcium hydroxide begins to react with carbon dioxide, which causes the lime to harden. People usually keep calcium hydroxide in its putty form until needed in an air-tight container, as this form can stay without problems in an indefinite amount of time. This whole process is the reason why lime is carbon neutral, as it will harden once exposed to it.

A brief history of lime plaster use in buildings:

  • Lime has been utilized for plaster for a very long time. The very first examples of lime plaster use date back to ancient Egyptian buildings and sculptures, which date back to ~2000 BC. The lime plaster found in Egypt dates between the Ninth and Tenth dynasties and to the date they are still intact.
  • Aside from the use in Egypt lime plaster has appeared on a variety of cultures throughout the years. These cultures range from archeological digs found on the island of Malta, ancient China, Rome, the Aztec Empire and many other areas around the world.
  • Lime plaster’s history is fairly long and it is said to date back in art form back in the eighth millennium BC and used in statues of Ain Ghazal in Jordan. The statues you can find in this archeological site, just as in other areas have endured the test of time and to the date, they can be found in the Jordan Museum.

Why is lime plaster so durable?

Lime plaster is an excellent option to use in buildings, paintings, sculptures and many other areas where the plaster is needed.

Lime plaster is able to expel moisture from your walls which can help in increasing the overall lifetime of a building and doesn’t allow moss and other fungi to grow on top.

Dealing with humidity and fungi can be difficult in buildings in high humidity areas, but lime plaster can be an excellent solution due to its impermeability when worked on with pozzolanic agents.

One of the most amazing reasons for lime plaster’s durability is its autogenous feature, which allows it to self-heal and by itself restore cracks and other forms of damage.

This autogenous feature happens due to lime plaster being able to absorb humidity and release any trapped moisture. This process helps lime plaster in dissolving areas where the plaster has become free and naturally sealing off cracks that could happen due to a variety of reasons.

Using lime as plaster is always a great idea because it ensures wherever you use it, it will be able to endure the test of time.

Lime has been utilized as a plastering option through many ages and different cultures, and to the date, it is still being used as a plastering solution.

Other options such as cement may be able to harden quickly and be cheaper at some point, but these options can be more brittle, hard to mold and be prone to fungi and other problems caused due to humidity.

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