Illustrated Architecture Dictionary


Plaster: A composition of gypsum or lime, water, sand, and sometimes hair or other fiber, applied in a pasty form to the surface of walls or ceilings in a plastic state and allowed to harden and dry

Stucco: A coarse plaster composed or portland or masonry cement, sand, and hydrated lime, mixed with water and applied in a plastic state to form a hard covering for exterior walls
Scagliola: Plasterwork imitating granite or marble

Pebble dash: An exterior wall finish produced by throwing and pressing small pebbles into unset stucco

Lath: Any of a number of suitable surfaces for receiving plasterwork, as gypsum lath, metal lath, wood lath, masonry, or brickwork

- Francis D. K. Ching, A Visual Dictionary of Architecture

Portland cement:  A hydraulic cement (cement that hardens under water)  made by heating limestone and clay in a kiln and pulverizing the result.  It is the most common type of cement in general use around the world. Named after Portland, an urban district of southern England.

Reinforced plaster: Materials such as cloth or fiberglass strengthen plaster that is used, for example, in interior ornamentation. 

An example of exterior reinforced plaster is the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, where most buildings were made of wooden frames and staff,  "a plaster-like material used specifically for the Pan-Am because it is manufactured to crumble after a few short months. Staff is made of plaster mixed with hemp, wood fiber, and mesh (to hold the substance together). After being mixed, the staff is poured into molds and applied to wooden frames." - Eliza Northwood, Architecture, Sculpture, and Color Schemes at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition

Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum: A composite of gypsum reinforced with glass fibers that can be  molded into virtually any shape or size. It is a thin, lightweight, strong, non-combustible material. Brought from England to the United States and Canada in 1977.  Referred to as Fiberglass Reinforced Gypsum (FRG) and Glass Reinforced Gypsum (GRG). See GFRC - Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting

Rubber molds: Typically used in reproducing plaster ornamentation.  See Plaster Systems at Buffalo Plastering & Architectural Casting

Page by Chuck LaChiusa in 2012
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