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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

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    • CommentAuthorjoelpeyton
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2008
    I have a 1877 cottage with lime plastered external walls (internally), obviously time is not a great healer and the majority of the plaster is now breaking down, does anyone have any super green ideas as to what would be a suitable replacement.

    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 25th 2008
    Lime plaster.

    If you are unsure about how to make it and use it ask on Period Property UK forum http://periodproperty.co.uk/forum/viewforum.php?f=1
    • CommentAuthorStuartB
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2008
    If lime plaster is breathable is it possible to use it in an air tight house?
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2008

    Do not confuse breathable with air tight.

    A good analogy is the anorak. Goretex is breathable in that your sweat will dry out as the fabric is vapour permeable. But it will keep the wind out as it is airtight (and waterproof).
    • CommentAuthorjoelpeyton
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2008
    I think you miss understand my question. I was looking for an alternative to lime plaster
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2008

    Why would you want to look for an alternative to the best?
    • CommentAuthorStuartB
    • CommentTimeFeb 26th 2008
    joelpeyton - If the existing lime plaster has lasted 130 years why look for an altenative?
    I can only echo what's been said - why on earth would you want an alternative to lime plaster? No other material is going to be as suitable for your 1877 cottage, or as green.
    Hmm, from the pictures it looks like old fashioned stone cladding. Sort of 'lime with added naffness'! Anyone up for a remake of Abigail's Party with cheesy nibbles and Demis Rousos?
    • CommentAuthormark_s
    • CommentTimeMar 1st 2008
    I assumed it was a reworking of render - stucco for the medallion man?
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2008
    Lime plaster is great and much more environmentally friendly than cement/ 'real' plaster as the drying process involves the uptake of CO2. I built my house from lime mix.

    Here are some mixes - people will have their own equally valid mixes - theses are not the only ones..

    Lime mix for plastering

    Lime putty, mix with about 4 parts sharp sand. Add in some reindeer hair to the mix - you have to do this slowly in small bits or you get fur balls. There should be a uniform scattering of single hairs in the mix - I can't remember the exact ratio - about 2 big handfuls hair / mixer load from memory.
    You'll find that you don't need hardly any water - let your mixer go for longer than if you were using cement to really mix it well.
    You can also buy the stuff premixed in dumpy bags.
    Wet down the wall you are about to plaster.
    Lime plaster likes to dry slowly - it'll be touch dry after a few days but it really takes a few weeks before it's properly hard.
    Ideally don't do it in hot weather, with the heating on etc.
    Apply the plaster - if it is hot or dry etc, or both in the room then get a dust sheet, wet it down and hang infront of the plastered wall to slow the drying.
    You'll find it is really nice to work with compared to 'real' plaster BUT where gloves and work clothes etc. Lime will damage clothes in the end, make your hands sort of slimy and can especially hurt if left under fingernails all day.

    For a top coat I believe that a mix of 1:1 of lime putty and very very fine sand was the traditional thin finishing coat. I did not bother with the top coat myself so get info on the exact mix if you want to do this.

    Incidentally many damp problems in old houses are due to the use of non-breathable paints, renders, plasters, etc - another good reason to use traditional techniques.

    remember to paint it with lime wash too, paint it with emulsion and you've just sealed the wall again with a layer of plastic.

    Lime wash recipe: lime putty and water to a thin single cream consistency (I seem to remember 40kg lime made around 150lts lime wash), pigment if wanted, about 250ml boiled linseed oil (stops it rubbing off on your hand when dry).
    I used a big 180lt barrel and a plaster mixer thingy on the end of a drill, but then I was painting everything inside and out and wanted colour consistency
    Apply about 3 coats.
    You find that it doesn't look like you've done anything but wet the wall to start with. Then it dries and starts to go opaque. Wait till it is dry before re-coating.

    If you are near Bristol then Chards have everything you need - H J Chard & Sons, 1 Cole Road, Bristol, BS2 0UG. 0117 977 7681
    If you are near Bristol (or anywhere much south of Lapland) you may find goat hair easier to obtain than reindeer hair.
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeMar 3rd 2008
    Hey Biff - it is funny I agree : ). I was surprised at the time too.
    But reindeer hair happens to be what Chards in Bristol supply so is much easier to find in appropriate quantities, near Bristol, than goat hair.
    Perhaps you have info on plentiful sources of UK goat hair that you could post for Joel? Local is often better after all....
    According to Bob Bennett's artice on lime reinforcements at http://www.buildingconservation.com/articles/limehair/limehair.htm

    "For the reinforcement of lime plasters and renders, hair should be strong, long and free from grease or other impurities. Ox hair is the preferred choice, but horse, goat, donkey, and a variety of other hair, including reindeer, are suitable. Human hair, being relatively fine and of poor strength, should not be used.

    Traditional alternatives to hair include chopped straw, reed, manilla hemp, jute, sisal, and even sawdust. Modern synthetic fibres such as glass and polypropylene which have been designed for use with Portland cement mortars have also been used successfully in pure lime mortars, despite their smooth and almost shiny appearance when viewed under a microscope. Natural animal hairs, by comparison, have a much rougher texture, and are generally more appropriate for historic buildings."

    Do Chards have a website?
    • CommentAuthorGaillard
    • CommentTimeAug 16th 2008
    What do you advise to plaster the "modern " additions with ,such as the shower and to make it waterproof without wanting to tile same, would silicone sealer be the right thing to use ?
    Also do you know a suplier in france for all the relevant goods one needs, we are near Tours.
    If you're in France, why not go for Venetian plaster, which is far more common in France than the UK. It's alime-putty-based plaster, sing marble-dust and pigments, that gives a wonderfully-smooth, water-resistant and attractive finish.
    If I sound messianaic, it's because I've just spent a couple of weeks learning the basics from a superb Stucco and Tadelakt plasterer in the Haut Savoie. It really is a lovely finish, albeit not 'authentic' enough for a lot of UK applications.
    • CommentTimeAug 19th 2008
    Gervase, is it something for the novice to learn or do you need plastering skils. Can you give me the details of the course if it is for the beginner, Thanks
    The top coat is actually surprisingly easy to do, although you do need good plastering skills to provide a smooth and plumb base coat. Sadly my lessons in tadelakt and stucco were by way of a returned favour from a French friend and fellow lime enthusiast rather than a course, but there are courses available in the UK, I believe.
    • CommentAuthorGaillard
    • CommentTimeAug 24th 2008
    Further comments
    Mike Wye at http://www.mikewye.co.uk/ do training beginner courses, there are a number of 3 to 4 day courses on offer across the country.
    Just done a one day course on Lime plaster down in E. Sussex. Main reason for doing it was to understandthe correct materials to use and why on my 200+ year old stone cottage which has suffered badly from bad building practices over the past 30 yrs, mainly involving OPC.I'd like your thinking on the following.Ground floor kitchen has been plastered internally with a cement mix and pointed outside with cement in places. I know the best solution is to remove it all and replace with lime plaster and lime mortar. outside won't be too big a job but inside is very difficult to remove from the stone, and it's quite a large area. Don't want to use a light demolition hammer for fear of vibration damage. Could i use an angle grinder to cross hatch down to the stone internally and then use a 3 coat lime plaster with hair in the trad way ,after well soaking the wall.My thinking is the wall will be able to breathe again, the cuts will act as a key for the backing coat of plaster and the finish will be right for the house.All the external pointing will be hacked out and repointed using a lime putty mix. Any Thoughts?
    • CommentAuthorcontadino
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
    Sand blast it off.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 2nd 2009
    I would do it by hand bolster off a small bit then get behind it and it will likely come off in big slabs -- care needed
    • CommentAuthorRachel
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2009
    Buy it ready mixed.. and off you go ...keep it damp and cool for a couple of weeks..and above 10 degrees
    I would have thought sandblasting would ruin the stone and not touch the cement.Tried with a bolster in several places but it seems a very dense coat and won't come away from the stone.I've got about 35 to 40 sq mts to do.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeDec 3rd 2009
    have you tried levering it away from the stone?
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