Clay Plaster – The Benefits Therein
By Chet Zebroski
As we created the natural light in our hallway via a built-in cabinet/art niche, we also turned our attention to improving the layout and function of the adjacent bedroom, soon to become Den. The existing bedroom plan was odd, in that it didn’t provide a resting place for the open door among other issues. So, we took the opportunity to revise the layout.
By eliminating an existing closet we expanded the sense of space in the room. And, by placing a new smaller closet next to the door opposite the built-in cabinet, we created an area along one side of the room for clothing storage. This tactic created a larger sense of space within the same footprint. To soften the atmosphere we introduced elliptical arches into the space. But, the real joy we discovered was in the finish material of the walls: American Clay Plaster.
This wall finish is natural, unlike modern paint. It’s base is clay and natural minerals are used for color. Odorless? Well, there are no toxic fumes, but there is a joyful wisp of ionization as the clay interacts with the atmosphere in the environment. We’re all familiar with this smell, or aroma. It’s similar to Petrichor, the smell in the air just after a fresh rainfall. The atmosphere in the rooms finished with clay plasters involve a natural interaction regarding humidity levels. So, there are many reasons to choose this finish to enhance our indoor air quality and sense of space.
There are contractors out there available to apply this finish. I’ve read the costs are coming in at around three times the cost of painting for the basic finishes, more for stenciling and other detailing. The options are vast, so pricing varies depending on complexity. Being on a tight budget and having more time, experience, and confidence, we decided to apply the finish ourselves.
I won’t bore you with the details of the application. But, will provide a number of photos to share the process. It truly transforms the sense of space far beyond simple paint. You can actually sense it, if you pay attention. Working with the material is pleasant. There is no fear of chemicals during prep, application, and clean up. All natural, water based clay plaster with minerals added as a colorant. Also, in these photos, we share a technique for softening the sense of space by use of elliptical arches. The use of the arches in this room helped to soften and define the space while keeping it open.