Lime plastering in Abruzzo

10/16/2011 - 07:08

We've really been struggling with getting our house plastered -I never knew that it was such a difficult operation and am now a firm supporter of leaving well alone unless its really falling off the wall!We stripped off all of the old plaster -probably causing us lots of extra work!But we dis discover an old niche (probably from when the house was a church) which we have now kept as part of the room and then we found massive defects inthe rubble stone walls -some areas nearly 1ft square made up from mud and small stone!Anyway as we have used lime in our house rennovations we found it impossible to find a builder in our area who would work with this material.This year through Plymouth University I contacted a lime plasterer in Devon who came out and worked on our house for 10 days.He introduced us to marble dust plaster and as marble dust is free to collect from any of the local companies we were delighted.He also showed us how to make a very large amount of plaster by hand and being lime it will keep for years if its covered which is a big bonus when you come and go with 6 month gaps in between.We have tried to only use local tradesmen in our rennovation but quite frankly with a couple of exceptions the work has been so appalling and so vastly overpriced that I wish we had gone down this route originally.It may be easy to get workers who appreciate old houses in Toscana but in Abruzzo its pretty much impossible.Next year I' planning to hold some one day workshops at our house showing people how to make and use this type of plaster with clay plasters,limewash paints and gesso plasters.If anyone would like to know more about this either pm me or see my



It is sad to hear that you cannot find local workmen trained inthe old techniques who are interested in sensitive restoration. It always amazes me that people living in ancient houses can install garish floor tiles and aluminium doors and windows.

I think it's a very interesting dilemma you raise Karen re aluminium doors and windows - my husband is a highly skilled cabinet maker and is very dubious about us having any external wooden doors/frames/windows ( we will have a wooden front door!!! ) - he says the sun causes too much shrinkage in the timber plus it causes the joints to then open - he's an absolute perfectionist and says he'll be painting 24/7 to protect it.  We've got the most beautiful hand made wooden doors and windows here in the UK - so it's going to be a real shock to the system - I'm sure we'll find something that looks like wood we've already seen some - but still not the same - and our house is eons old!!!! 

We have double-glazed PVC windows (they look like timber) in our old 18th Century watermill and they are superb. Best thing we could ever have. They were not installed by us, the former owner did it and I thank him for that. I love old buildings and try to keep old features as much as I can, but certain modern conveniences are simply great and difficult to beat. My husband (retired architect) thinks the same. After all, we have modern bathrooms and kitchens which are just part of our lives. On the other hand, aluminium doors would not look the same. Obviously, that kind of PVC is expensive, but worth the extra money.