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Learning about the Nature of Lath and Plaster Walls

Plaster walls were prevalent before drywall replaced them as the prefered material for modern homes. Plastering was frequently used to construct homes before the 1940s because of its adaptability, accessibility, and durability. 

It’s not always obvious what’s behind your walls because plaster application techniques and materials have evolved over the years.

You can determine what kind of lath and plaster you’re working with by knowing when your property was built, as well as the warning signs and symptoms of damage to plaster walls. This enables you to maintain the condition of your walls and determine whether to contact a restoration specialist. 

Continue reading to learn more details about the lath and plaster material.

Lath and Plaster, Explained

Between 1700 and 1940, lath and plaster was the prefered technique for plastering homes. Historically, lime, aggregate, water, and animal hair were the main ingredients of plaster. Most frequently, horsehair was used. 

Horsehair may have appeared to be an insulator, but it actually served as a bridging agent. This indicates that it kept the plaster together and prevented shrinking.

Animal hair has been replaced in modern plaster by a gypsum base, aggregate, water, and resin or acrylic components. In addition, it is somewhat more moisture-resistant than conventional plaster and sets and cures faster.

Lath and Plaster Installation

The scratch coat, brown coat, and veneer coat are the layers that make up the installation process. Three layers are required to create a smooth, premium finish using plaster. The scratch coat, which is placed on top of the lath strips, is the initial layer. 

The second brown coat, which is also rough, gives the animal more stability and bulk. A thin, delicate layer called the veneer coat offers a high-end, smooth finish.

Difference between Lath and Plaster and Drywall

Plaster soon went out of style after drywall was widely adopted in the 1950s. Contractors and homeowners embraced drywall rapidly because it was less expensive and installed more quickly. 

Although they both have the same function, plaster and drywall differ in a number of ways. Due to its 4-by-8-foot sheets’ direct wall connection, drywall is simpler to instal. Plaster, though, involves a multi-step process that takes days to complete and 60 days to cure.

Plaster installation costs more than drywall installation because it takes more time and skill to instal or repair. When compared to the complexity and expense of repairing drywall, repairs are also more expensive and typically more difficult.

Although plaster has some inherent insulating qualities, it still needs modern insulation, much like drywall, to be a genuinely effective insulator. Plaster is a superior choice if you want to reduce noise since it is denser and thicker, which dampens sound between rooms better than drywall. 

Additionally, plaster has a more upscale appearance than standard drywall, and walls can be finished with a glossy, soft finish or a stucco-like texture.


Lath and plaster are a traditional building material that has been used for centuries and still remain popular today. This is why learning about the nature of lath and plaster walls is important for any homeowner or builder. 

They are strong, durable, and require minimal maintenance. With the right knowledge and care, lath and plaster walls are sure to last for many years.

We Plaster & Recruit provides excellent plastering service on the Gold Coast! We’re a registered plastering company that delivers the best services with operations throughout Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Queensland. Call us now to get started on your home improvement project!

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