Lime plastering can be traced back to 2000 BC. The porous nature of lime means it allows the building to breathe i.e. moisture can escape out through the walls to the outside and compared to modern cement based materials, it is less prone to cracking because of its flexible characteristics which accommodate movement in the building and it is also a fungicide. Gypsum plaster and plasterboard are vulnerable to water damage unlike lime plaster. The caustic nature of lime puts plasterers at risk from chemical burns and they must wear suitable protection also the long curing time of lime plaster is another disadvantage.
Pre-1950s houses in the UK often had a timber lathe, plastered ceiling and wall but modern buildings methods have replaced lime plaster and timber lathes with gypsum plaster and plasterboard.
The aim of plastering is to produce a flat finish without having to sand and make good any imperfections. Plastering is messy, physically demanding and because of the short setting time of plaster, it is a race against the clock. Also, it is good practice to use only clean water and keep buckets and tools clean. This will prevent new plaster being contaminated which will shorten its setting time. Good plastering is about skill and timing which only comes with experience. A five day course in plastering is not a shortcut to mastering this skill; in fact it is just the beginning. To become a good plasterer requires good technique and doing it day in and day out.