Solid Plaster


Cliveden Conservation cover all areas of solid plasterwork including lath and plaster work, solid casting, run-in-situ moulded work and freehand modelling. Our expert team can repair lath and plaster ceilings/walls using bespoke systems which are devised in response to the particular construction and materials of an individual ceiling or wall. Lath and plaster ceilings may often be preserved even when, to the untrained eye, they appear damaged beyond repair. We are also available for the wholesale plastering of either lost original work or new ceilings. Lath can be replaced with expanded metal lath were stipulated. 

Traditional 3 coat lime plaster
Traditional 3 coat lime plaster on riven oak or chestnut lath is at the core of Cliveden Conservation’s expertise. The mortars in this case are strengthened with the use of animal hair which gives traditional lath and plasterwork it’s strength and flexibility. Flatwork is generally undertaken in three coats- a haired ‘scratch’ coat which forms the bond with the wooden laths, a haired ‘float’ coat which levels the work and a fine putty and silver sand ‘finish’ coat to make the ceiling ready for decoration- traditionally with either limewash or distemper.

3 coat work is also used, in the same way, onto solid substrates such as brick or stone. An additional ‘dubbing out’ phase may be necessary to level out flaws in the substrate. Careful attention is also given to the treatment of structural cracks in the substrate to avoid the development of cracks in the finished plaster. We also recommend the use of stitching bars and mesh in structurally unsound areas.

Run In-situ work
If the ceiling is to be decorative in nature embellishments Cliveden Conservation will manufactured off site and subsequently fix to the ceiling or ‘run in situ’ onto fixed armatures with the assistance of wooden ‘rules’ and ‘horses’ – steel templates fixed to wooden frames which are drawn over the surface building up the moulding in layers, guided by the rules. This run work provides the basis for cornices and ceiling ribs, coffers and beam cases and in simple designs forms the ornament of the ceiling. In more decorative ceilings the run work is further embellished with cast ornament fixed in place subsequent to the completion of the run in-situ work. Complex cornices may have several orders of applied ornament. Cliveden Conservation can produce domes, arches and irregular shapes using variations of the above techniques. We take great care at the design stage to allow for accurate setting out prior to work commencing.

Freehand modelled ornament
Cliveden Conservation is at the forefront of freehand stucco modelling, the most refined technique of all the skills required of plasterers. The lime putty, marble flour and a large range of other materials (stucco recipes range in complexity and secrecy) that forms the modelling medium creates a flexible material that is difficult to master being relatively quick to set.  Our modellers have mastered the art of using a two dimensional guide but seeing the final design in three dimensions, working swiftly to achieve a perfect results.

Solid cast work
Moulds are either taken from existing work or modelled in clay in our workshop. Our expert team will make the mould in flexible rubber and cast in plaster of Paris or lime putty/aggregate where historic precedence and materials analysis shows this to be the correct medium. Lime putty casts are turned out of the moulds whilst still flexible and can be ‘tweaked’ to subtly alter appearance and add to the diversity of decoration. Plaster of Paris casts are exact replicas of the original model and once set cannot be successfully changed. As with all our work Cliveden Conservation make decisions regarding techniques and materials after a prolonged exercise of research and analysis followed by trials and exemplars.

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