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What Are The Defects In Plastering?

¬†Plastering, which involves covering walls and ceilings with a fine, smooth material, is an important part of building. Plastering is crucial, but it can have several issues that damage a building’s look and even its structural stability. To guarantee high-quality work and long-lasting outcomes, professionals in the construction sector need to understand these faults.

Learn about the most typical plastering mistakes, what causes them, and how to avoid them in this in-depth article. Improving the overall quality of construction projects, we can make plastered surfaces endure longer and look better by fixing these issues.

What Are The Defects In Plastering?

Plastering, while fundamental for creating smooth and visually appealing surfaces, can suffer from several defects. These defects can arise from various factors, including improper materials, poor workmanship, or adverse environmental conditions. Understanding these defects is crucial for ensuring quality construction. Here are some common defects in plastering:

  • Shrinkage Cracks: Caused by the drying and hardening of plaster, leading to a reduction in volume.
  • Structural Cracks: Result from movement in the building structure, such as settling or thermal expansion.
  • Crazing: Fine, hairline cracks on the plaster surface due to rapid drying or poor-quality mix.
  • Blistering: Occurs when small bubbles form on the plaster surface. This is typically caused by the presence of moisture beneath the plaster layer, often due to insufficient curing or the application of plaster on a damp surface.
  • Efflorescence: The appearance of white, powdery deposits on the plaster surface, caused by the presence of soluble salts in the materials used. These salts migrate to the surface with moisture and crystallize upon evaporation.
  • Dampness: Results from water penetration through the plaster, which can occur due to poor waterproofing, rising dampness, or leakage. Dampness can lead to staining, peeling, and deterioration of the plaster.
  • Peeling and Flaking: Occurs when the plaster separates from the underlying surface. This can be due to poor adhesion, the application of plaster on a dirty or greasy surface, or the use of incompatible materials.
  • Hollow Sounding Plaster: When tapped, areas of plaster may produce a hollow sound, indicating that the plaster is not adequately bonded to the substrate. This can be caused by insufficient keying, over-wetting of the substrate, or the use of too thick a plaster layer.
  • Uneven Surface: An inconsistent surface finish, can result from poor application techniques, inadequate levelling, or variations in the mix consistency.
  • Bond Failure: This occurs when the plaster does not adhere properly to the substrate. This can be due to dust, oil, or other contaminants on the substrate, or the use of a weak or inappropriate mix.

Preventive Measures

To minimize these defects, several preventive measures can be taken:

  • Proper Surface Preparation: Ensure that the surface to be plastered is clean, dry, and free of contaminants.
  • Correct Mixing Ratios: Use the appropriate mix ratios for the plaster to ensure consistency and strength.
  • Controlled Application: Apply plaster in layers of the recommended thickness, and avoid rapid drying by protecting the plaster from direct sunlight and strong winds.
  • Adequate Curing: Allow sufficient time for the plaster to cure, which helps in reducing shrinkage and cracking.
  • Moisture Control: Address sources of dampness and ensure proper waterproofing and drainage to prevent water ingress.

By understanding and addressing these common defects, construction professionals can achieve a high-quality plaster finish that is both durable and aesthetically pleasing.

What Causes Plaster Damage?

Plaster damage can result from a variety of factors, each contributing to the deterioration of the plaster surface. Identifying these causes is essential for preventing and repairing damage effectively. Here are some of the primary causes of plaster damage:

Moisture and Water Ingress

  • Leakage: Water from leaking roofs, walls, or plumbing can penetrate plaster, leading to dampness, efflorescence, and eventual deterioration.
  • Rising Damp: Moisture from the ground can rise through the walls, damaging the plaster through persistent dampness and salt deposits.
  • Condensation: High humidity and poor ventilation can cause condensation on plaster surfaces, leading to mould growth and weakening of the plaster.

Structural Movement

  • Settlement: As buildings settle, differential movement can cause cracks in the plaster.
  • Vibration and Impact: Vibrations from nearby construction activities or heavy traffic can cause plaster to crack and deteriorate.
  • Thermal Expansion and Contraction: Temperature changes can cause materials to expand and contract, leading to cracks in the plaster.

Poor Workmanship

  • Improper Mixing: Incorrect proportions of water, plaster, and other materials can result in weak plaster prone to cracking and disintegration.
  • Inadequate Curing: Insufficient curing time can prevent the plaster from achieving its full strength, making it more susceptible to damage.
  • Inadequate Surface Preparation: Failure to clean and prepare the surface properly can result in poor adhesion and subsequent detachment of the plaster.

Material Quality

  • Substandard Materials: Using low-quality plaster, sand, or additives can lead to weak and brittle plaster that is more prone to damage.
  • Incompatible Materials: Using materials that are not compatible with each other can result in poor bonding and increased susceptibility to damage.

Environmental Factors

  • Weather Conditions: Extreme weather, such as heavy rain, frost, and strong winds, can cause plaster to crack and erode.
  • Pollution: Exposure to pollutants and acidic rain can deteriorate plaster, especially on exterior surfaces.

Mechanical Damage

  • Physical Impact: Scratches, knocks, and other physical impacts can cause surface damage and cracks in the plaster.
  • Wear and Tear: General wear and tear from everyday use can gradually degrade plaster surfaces, especially in high-traffic areas.

Chemical Reactions

  • Alkali-Silica Reaction: Chemical reactions between the alkalis in cement and the silica in aggregates can cause expansion and cracking.
  • Salt Crystallization: Salts dissolved in water can migrate to the surface and crystallize, causing efflorescence and weakening the plaster.

Preventive Measures

To minimize plaster damage, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Waterproofing: Ensure proper waterproofing of roofs, walls, and floors to prevent water ingress.
  • Quality Materials: Use high-quality, compatible materials for plastering.
  • Proper Mixing and Application: Follow recommended mixing ratios and application techniques.
  • Adequate Curing: Allow sufficient curing time to ensure the plaster achieves its full strength.
  • Surface Preparation: Clean and prepare surfaces thoroughly before plastering.
  • Environmental Protection: Protect plaster from extreme weather conditions during and after application.

By understanding the causes of plaster damage and implementing preventive measures, it is possible to maintain the integrity and appearance of plastered surfaces, ensuring their longevity and durability.


Plastering, even though it serves a crucial purpose in the construction industry, can be damaged or faulty in a variety of different ways. To maintain plastered surfaces in good condition and to avoid issues such as water penetration, structural movement, poor craftsmanship, and environmental variables, it is essential to have an understanding of the factors that create these concerns.

The most effective method for professionals working in the construction sector to avoid recurring issues is for them to be aware of the factors that lead to those issues. 

Several things are involved in this process, including ensuring that the surface is prepared, using materials of good quality, adhering to the appropriate mixing ratios, and allowing sufficient time for it to cure. By resolving these challenges, the plaster’s endurance and aesthetic quality are improved, which in turn contributes to the success of building projects and makes them last shorter periods.

It is possible to significantly lessen the risks associated with plastering by employing cautious techniques and preventative measures, which will ensure that any structure will have a finish that is durable and long-lasting.

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What Are The Defects In Plastering?

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