Decorative plaster, also called ‘plasterwork’ or ‘carved plaster’, is a centuries-old technique in which a durable plaster is used to sculpt decorative elements directly onto an interior or exterior wall or surface. This is most commonly seen in decorative wall or ceiling mouldings, but nearly any kind of design, flourish or finial is possible.
The technique goes back to the Roman Empire, though they fell out of favour for more than 1500 years, only being revived in Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. The techniques used today vary little from those developed in the 19th century, though with modern materials many more dramatic and hard-wearing designs are now possible.
What are the benefits of using decorative plaster in your home or office?
Decorative plaster is just that – decorative. It has little structural effect, as its purpose is to beautify or add dignity to a home, room or office in a durable, enduring manner.
Decorative plaster wall art has been used for centuries to add texture to otherwise flat surfaces, and can be painted in matching or contrasting colours relative to the wall itself, depending on the visual effect desired. Indeed, entire decorative plaster walls were popular hundreds of years ago, and lend an appealing, tactile edge to the decorating scheme.
Reliefs and bas reliefs – images seemingly carved into or built out from the wall surface – predate building with plaster entirely, and date form a time when they had to be carved directly into stone surfaces. Of course, once decorative plasterwork became possible, relief and bas relief images became much less costly to achieve.
Different Decorative Plaster Finishes
There are many decorative plaster finishes and techniques. Some, such as roughcast, pebble cast or sgraffito go back many centuries. Other techniques, such as traditional plaster mouldings, have barely 200 years of tradition behind them. Lastly, there are many thoroughly modern techniques, such as adding metallic pigments or textured applications which can produce some very dramatic results.
In the end, nearly anything you or your designer can imagine are possible with the right blend of ancient and modern materials and techniques. Find out more about our decorative plaster below: