Tadelakt Plaster in Vancouver
If you’re seeking something truly unique for your interior design, then look no further than tadelakt. Tadelakt is a lime-based plaster finish native to Morocco. It was originally used to waterproof cisterns for collecting water and applied to the ceilings and walls of public steam rooms and private bathrooms.
Traditional tadelakt sources its limestone specifically from the region of Marrakech. This limestone plaster naturally contains impurities and is processed in a less controlled manner, therefore producing a less fine, aggregated product. The quality of this lime is what creates the micro-fissures unique to tadelakt finishes, giving it an organic feel. While it is still possible to source tadelakt plaster directly from Morocco, modern tadelakt uses natural hydraulic lime that is processed to create a finer material that requires the addition of an aggregate such as powdered marble.
The Art & Practice of Tadelakt
In modern usage, tadelakt is an excellent option for any part of the home, chosen for its unique decorative properties and its practical water resistance and durability. It can elevate a living room with a bespoke fireplace, bring a luxurious feel to a bathroom, and create a cozy kitchen space. The term tadelakt is used in reference to the material as well as the technique by which the plaster is applied. The process of modern tadelakt application is an involved one and creates a finished look that is inherently unique to the craftsperson completing the work.
The Application Process of Tadelakt
We begin by applying three thin lime plaster coats to any suitable substrate, typically over drywall, plaster or concrete. After the final coat is applied, the polishing step follows and it is a laborious process, applying pressure to the plaster in a random motion.
Depending on the colour of the plaster we use either a plastic trowel or a Venetian plaster stainless steel trowel for this part. The intention behind this practice is two-fold: to tighten up the material, enhancing its durability and water resistance, and to bring out the subtle movement in the plaster. The result is a cloud-like look, where the highs and lows in the densiticy of the application are brought to the forefront and give tadelakt its warm and natural appearance.
The Finishing Touches
Once the tadelakt plaster has dried, it is polished and sealed simultaneously with a special soap. Traditional Moroccan finishes employ a savon noir, or black soap, made from olive oil that is diluted with some water before being brushed onto the surface in small swathes. It is then polished with a small flat stone that fits neatly into the palm of one’s hand, capable of withstanding pressure as it incorporates the soap into the lime plaster.
While modern adaptations do not use a special finishing stone, the practice remains the same. An olive oil soap mixture is applied to the tadelakt using tight and vigorous random strokes using a special towel or sponge, and several applications may be necessary in order to enhance its water resistance. This protective soap also serves to emphasize the natural beauty of the tadelakt plaster finish, warm and comforting in appearance and soft and buttery to the touch.
As a finish unique to Morocco, tadelakt is a versatile choice for bathrooms, kitchens, fan hoods, fireplaces, and even entire walls and ceilings. You can opt for a natural red or brown pigmentation for an earthy look, or play around with colour thanks to modern dyes.