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Smart Construction Materials: Tadelakt

Alice-India Garwood
by Alice-India Garwood on February 24, 2019

Looking to the past can have wonderful consequences for the design of a build. Whether it improves the strength or the design, when we look to the future, we should also take a glance at the past. Plastering and rendering are a crucial part of any build, so what are your options? Whilst typical smooth plaster is a tried and tested method, it might be worth looking a little further in to the past for something extra special.

Thought to have originated from the qadad method, which itself is thousands of years old, tadelakt is an innovative plastering method which came from Morocco.

Tadelakt roughly translates as “to rub in”, which unsurprisingly, is the technique used to get the best effect from this soft undulating material.

Tadelakt, Bobtrade, Construction, Technology, Efficiency, Creativity, Supplies, Materials[Photo Credit: Maison Deco]

What is the formula of this fab little construction material?

It’s actually a very simple recipe for success: Lime plaster - as opposed to portland cement - natural soap - to speed carbonation - and in some cases, marble or limestone sand. It isn’t appropriate with tadelakt to use a rough aggregate as the appeal of this plaster is the flexibility of its finish.

"Tadelakt uses lime plaster as opposed to Portland cement, natural soap to speed the carbonation process and sometimes marble or limestone sand as a fine aggregate."

Construction efficiency doesn't have to be boring and with tadelakt It’s not the just the texture which can be played with. Different pigments can be added to the mix to allow for finishes ranging from bright yellows, blues and greens, to reds, whites and greys. The tradition however is red or orange.

It’s important with tadelakt as it is with any construction material to weigh up the pros and cons and evaluate whether it will be a benefit to your project or not.

Tadelakt, Bobtrade, Construction, Technology, Efficiency, Creativity, Supplies, Materials[Photo Credit: Ehituslahendused]

Let’s start with the cons and work up to the good stuff!

Due to the nature of the material, tadelakt can be used for flooring but ideally you would be using it on walls and surfaces. If you cannot guarantee that people using the space won’t be wearing hard shoes, you run the risk of the plaster being worn away and damaged. Disaster! So, you are limited to walls and surfaces, really.

"Tadelakt is best used for walls and surfaces as flooring is prone to damager from hard shoes and furniture."

Equally you want to be sure that the surface being rendered with the tadelakt needs to be as sturdy and supported as possible to prevent fissures from forming within the plaster.

Those are the drawbacks, what are the pros of investing in a tadelakt finish?

With regard to style, the tadelakt plaster allows for a seamless finish creating a really unique style. Not only this but tadelakt is waterproof so it’s perfect for bathrooms and kitchens - yes please!

Tadelakt, Bobtrade, Construction, Technology, Efficiency, Creativity, Supplies, Materials[Photo Credit: Tadelakt Amsterdam]

The lack of grout lines as well mean it’s a difficult surface for mould to develop on, so, as well as being waterproof you’ve got a safe bet in all climates and all rooms!

This historic construction material is a fantastic opportunity to utilise the efficient construction methods of the past for a unique and striking design.

Want more smart construction materials? Are you looking in to doing your first DIY decorating job? Or maybe you're intrigued by the history of some of your every day materials? Check out more articles on the innovation blog!

Tags: Creativity

Alice-India Garwood

Alice-India Garwood

Content Marketing Executive at Bobtrade. Interested in design, sustainability and the history of construction. I love all things indie and theatrical.