plaster maintenance and sealers
If the plaster is unsealed and gets dirty, first use:
--A sanding sponge or light abrasive or...
Rub it with #0000 fine steel wool
A rag and warm water. Gently rub out the dirt. If that doesn't work, use:
--Rag, water and a touch of soap, or;
--400 grit sandpaper over the blemish, then 600 grit to polish out, or;
--Wet the area, then use the sandpaper
--If an oily spot is stubborn to water and soap, use clear spirits lacquer thinner paint thinner or similar
--Spot plaster the area
--Add water to the same color plaster as used on the wall, making a slurry or paint out of it, then dab the troubled area with slurry.
--Always use white cotton to clean; otherwise colored fabrics can bleed onto the plaster.
--If the plaster is sealed with wax, soap or other natural sealers, use that sealer product to try to clean. If that doesn't work, try the same methods as listed above for unsealed plaster, then be sure to reseal the plaster with the same product.
--If cleaning acrylic sealed plaster, use the same methods (with the exception of cleaning it with acrylic sealer), then reseal the spot if it had to be sanded.
--If cleaning Lime Wash, clean with the same methods as above. If all else fails, dab it with the same color of Lime Was dries and rub into it with a sponge or rag as it.
PATCHES, DINGS, NICKS AND HOLES
The most important thing is to fill the hole leveled to the rest of the wall. Before doing anything else, clean the area around the hole. In some cases, sand the area around it, remove any waxes with solvent, and gently rub out any other water-soluble sealers. After cleaning, mask the area around it.
--If you have a hole larger than 1" x 1", use spackle, drywall mud, caulking or anything else that won't crack. If you have a larger hole, like 5" X 5", use spray foam. For anything larger, you might have to re-sheetrock the hole. The reason you don't use plaster is because it can crack if applied too thick. You might have to fill the hole several times with spackle, or other medium. Use plaster on the last two or three layers of the patch. On the last layer, take a damp cloth and remove any excess plaster around the patch. Allow 24 hours to dry, sand it and reseal (if there was sealer.) Larger holes might sometimes require professional help.
--If you have a nail hole, use plaster as filler. If there is excess plaster, wipe with a damp rag. Let dry then sand the patch with the appropriate sand paper grit (400 -600), and reseal with original sealer, if any.
--For scratches, minor dings, etc.; either re-seal with original sealer, or make paint out of plaster, then dab the area with brush or rag. As always, use your best judgment and test small samples if possible.
You don't have to seal our plasters unless they are on an area which might get very dirty or might have excessive continual water. You can optionally seal water prone areas like exteriors and shower stalls. Sometimes people seal interiors because it gets rid of the 'dryness of the walls'. If you have parties, dogs and kids, a natural sealer like soap can be a great idea (as we'll mention below).
Our plasters can take a fair amount of water and never get water marks. Our products, especially Marmorino or Stucco, will soak up quite a bit of water and dry very quickly without any change down the road. With a constant heavy accumulation of water in the same spot, our plaster can permanently darken because of the minerals filtered though plaster. For example, plaster in a slowly melting snowbank or bottom inch of an unsealed shower stall can stain if unsealed or without optimal drainage.
Once you seal plaster, it's harder to change the plaster without extra work. Patches might be more difficult to blend once a wall is sealed.
There are several types of sealers that are used for plaster - soap, wax, synthetics and other .
Soap- Yes, soap. This is the best all round interior sealer possible. Better, cheaper and faster than anything else.Buysome liquid soap or even a mostly clear shampoo and mix it half and half with water, wipe it on your walls after they completely dry. This may sound very surprising, but it works better than any other option and is ultra natural and very traditional. Just wipe it on the walls. Don't let it streak down. Don't scrub it. Just wipe the wall down with a soft rag. This will add a minor luster and will seal the wall from almost any kind of dirt. A second coat will really seal it. Liquids will bead right off including wine. It will add more durability. The wall might deepen color by a few percent with soap.
Don't use bar soap or solid soap. Natural health food stores always carry liquid soaps in bulk. Don't get anything scented or tinted unless you want want the odor for a week. And if you ever have to clean grease or something off the wall, guess what you use - soap!
Wax - is another very traditional interior only topcoat. Here we're talking about natural bees wax. Real waxes like beeswax and carnuba can add protection and give the wall a natural luster that is difficult to duplicate with other products. Colored waxes are also ideal for a more enhanced effect. Wax is easy to maintain and fix. Wax is done by applying and buffing out thin coats of wax onto the last coat of your dried plaster. For maintenance, wax can be reapplied endlessly if needed without any change to the wall. Beeswax on lime plaster sits behind the Mona Lisa in Paris. It's very authentic stuff. Check out our videos for more information.
There companies out there that sell many types of waxes most of them being synthetic. We don't know anything about the synthetic waxes sold. They are too numerous and different for us to have a solid recommendation on. Some work, some might not. Most of them can't be reapplied and rebuffed, some can. Some change color of the plaster, some don't. Most of them, leave the walls looking like plastic (in our humble opinion). Use at you own risk.
If you want to change the plaster after it's waxed, scuff the wall very wall with 80 grit sandpaper, wipe dust, and re-plaster. Likewise you can prime it and paint it.
Synthetic Sealers - are used when you need modern protection against serious water and dirt, like in shower stalls, dirt prone exteriors and pubic spaces. We recommend sealers that are specifically designed for natural stone and stucco. They are available in most tile stores and masonry stores. There are many sealers out there. They all have a different quality. The two most important thing with sealers, besides them working, is that you don't want to use in that will leave an artificial plastic coat and you don;t want one that will permanently darken the plaster. Find a sealer that won't change the color of the plaster (non-enhancing type) and one that penetrates without leaving a plastic sheen.
Sealers can dramatically increase the durability of the plaster to where our products can be used in heavy commercial areas. Again, when something is sealed, the plaster won't naturally age and 'do it's thing'. Ultimately, if you or your customer have no plans of ever changing or lime washing an exterior, you should probably seal it.
Most synthetic sealers can be brushed, rolled, wiped or sprayed on. Some sealers we like are Miracle Sealants and Dry Treat. There are lots of others we never had a chance to try. Give us feedback on what you tried, if you can. As always, do a test sample first.
Other- There's plenty of eccentric sealers that you can create. One that some of will love to try, especially if you're doing a bar, or similar is beer. Preferably a thick dark beer. The thicker it is, the better the sealing properties will be and the more of a golden hue you'll get. You might try boiling the beer down to thicken it a little. Beer was used by ancient Egyptians on their lime plasters. Makes sense since they invented the stuff.
ALWAYS LET SEALERS DRY AT LEAST 24 HOURS BEFORE YOU TEST WITH WATER. IF NOT, YOU CAN HAVE PERMANENT DISCOLORATION, EVEN IF THE SEALER LOOKS COMPLETELY DRY.