Durable Difference: Traditional Plaster
Jacob Lammers
AVP of PR/Marketing

The historic integrity of a building is a key component to traditional plaster repair and restoration.

The original three-coat lime plaster – used almost exclusively until the end of the 19th century – is unmatched in strength and durability as well as its resistance to fire and noise.

“A lot of people don’t do traditional plaster repair any more. It’s kind of a lost art form,” said Don Holton, an expert in traditional plaster repair and restoration.

Traditional plaster has been replaced by drywall, which encompasses a gypsum board that is nailed to the existing studs and then painted over. While cheaper, it’s a far inferior product, especially for historic buildings that require a traditional touch.

Westminster Presbyterian Church had sustained water damage to its sanctuary, specifically the walls, columns and arches – all made of plaster. Don Holton’s team of plaster artisans – Adam Holton and Earl Newton – applied traditional plaster to the highly deteriorated sections of the church in Dayton, Ohio.

“The artistry of the project was matching the plasterwork to the existing stone,” said Craig Showalter, business administrator for Westminster Presbyterian. “It was just a vibrant difference before and after. Just quality work.”

Replacing original lime and gypsum plaster can be very costly. In some cases, significant plaster damage – due to moisture or structural movement – can be satisfactorily repaired without complete replacement and is more cost effective.

Other than a three-coat plaster repair, Durable Restoration specializes in a more economic option. A two-coat veneer plaster is also available, which has a very similar look and performance to full plaster.

“We restore what we find. If you went from plaster to drywall, you’d have to tear out all of the plaster – damaged or not – and go over top of it,” said Holton, who has 26 years of experience as a residential/commercial contractor.

Durable Restoration’s expertise in traditional plaster extends to coverage on various interior compositions such as wood lath (or metal lath) over the frame of the house or terra cotta tile.

The process of plaster repair should be completed by a qualified plaster specialist as there are many factors that contribute to failed plaster. Chief among these issues is the proper drying time.

“Timing is essential. There’s a lot to know and it’s important to do it the right way,” Holton said. “You have to intimately know the materials you’re working with.

“These old buildings are part of my history. The preservation of our history – that’s important.”

Don has been with Durable Restoration for three years and spent an additional 23 years working as a residential/commercial contractor. He has significant expertise in general construction, roofing, historic masonry and plaster repair and restoration.