Learn about this unique and versatile plastering process!
There’s a new plaster product on the property renovation and decoration market, and it’s gaining popularity amongst professionals and DIY’ers alike. But what is it, what’s it for, and is it a material you should use in your home? Read on to learn more!
Tadelakt (pronounced either tay-de-lact or tah-de-lact) is a lime-based plaster originating from Morocco. It creates a solid, durable and waterproof surface with a distinct appearance. Tadelakt is seamless with no grout lines and is mould-resistant. When applied properly, Tadelakt looks smooth yet mottled like natural stone, will feel soft to the touch and glows with a satin-type sheen.
Tadelakt can be tinted to almost any colour without the requirement for painting over but is most commonly found in neutral shades reminiscent of natural materials. Tadelakt is the typical plaster used in the Marrakech region of Morocco as its mould- and moisture- free surface creates the ideal cooling surface for use in traditional riad homes. If you’d stayed in a riad, you may well have noticed Tadelakt walls and assumed they were stone!
Tadelakt is installed similarly to more conventional plaster, in several coats. However, it’s the final coat that gives it its waterproof qualities. The final stage of polishing most commonly uses either a plastic trowel or Japanese trowel, but traditionally, in Morocco, required a special polishing stone. At this stage, olive oil soap is rubbed into the surface. This olive oil chemically reacts with the lime to form calcium stearate and makes it waterproof.
Tadelakt can be learnt by a competent and experienced DIY’er but it is not recommended that you apply the plaster to your walls as a first attempt, as it’s unlikely to be finished in an adequate manner to offer the protection the room needs.
Ideally, Tadelakt should be applied by a specialist to ensure that the finishing stage is completed sufficiently and to the standard that will keep it hard-wearing, durable and water-resistant. Do your research and find an expert who is able to properly install Tadelakt and it will last for many years to come!
When properly applied with the olive oil chemical reaction having taken place, Tadelakt is water resistant, scratch resistant, hard and durable. However, it is not always recommended for floor as hard shoes, grit and stones may erode at the durable top layer over time. It is, therefore, mostly used for bathrooms and wet rooms where those within are unlikely to be wearing shoes, and just for the walls in rooms such as kitchens.
There are plenty of alternatives for flooring if you choose to use Tadelakt on just your room’s walls. Microcement provides a similar finish but is more hard-wearing and less likely to scratch, and tiles can look great in contrast to Tadelakt walls and/or a ceiling.
Tadelakt is used typically for walls and ceilings, but its durability and unique appearance does mean it can be used in a whole host of areas around the home, including (but by no means limited to!):
- Interior walls
- Kitchens (avoiding floors if heavily used or used as a thoroughfare)
- Vanity units
- Baths, pools, spas
- Shower cubicles, wet rooms, steam rooms.
Tadelakt is growing in popularity for household bathrooms across the UK, and has long been used for bathrooms throughout Morocco. Its waterproof membrane makes it an ideal surface for bathrooms, shower enclosures and wet rooms; especially for homeowners looking for a slightly different look to the conventional tiling and grouting seen more commonly.
Tadelakt is applied in layers, and the more sturdy these make the plaster, the less likely it is to crack. If DIY’ing your Tadelakt, you may notice small cracks during the installation as layers dry – but don’t panic, this is normal. Small surface cracks can be buffed out during the olive oil soap stage; but if you’re worried, have Tadelakt installed by a professional. The traditional finish to the installation using a Moroccan polishing stone is the most effective method, but it may prove tricky to find an expert who can apply it in this manner.
If you do find micro cracks appearing in the Tadelakt surface after the olive oil soap finish, this usually won’t affect the waterproof quality of the plaster; as the chemical reaction permeates down from just the surface into the material. If anything, smaller cracks can add to the authentic look and texture of the plaster!
The exact cost of installing Tadelakt into your home is dependent on the size and scope of the plastering project, as well as the number of layers being applied and any colour tint. As a ballpark figure, you can expect to pay around £180/m² for supply and install from a specialist contractor.
Tadelakt does cost more than more traditional finishes such as tiles but is incomparable when it comes to aesthetics and really provides something different.
Tadelakt is fairly low maintenance and needs only occasional wiping with water to keep it clean. The surface naturally resists dirt and mould so there’s no need to use specialist cleaning products; and bleaches and solvents should be avoided entirely, as they may erode at the waterproof layer on the top of the plaster. A quick squeegee with water up and down the walls on occasion will suffice.
Some homeowners choose to re-apply the olive oil soap layer every few years in order to reinforce the protective top layer, but this is by no means mandatory.
Need help deciding if Tadelakt is the right plastering material for your home? Get in touch with your local Refresh Renovations office and our specialist renovators will be able to provide you with free advice on your options, with no obligation to proceed with works.
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If you would like to find out how Refresh Renovations can support you with a high quality, efficient home renovation, get in touch today. Your local Refresh Renovations consultant will be happy to meet with you for a free, no obligations consultation.