Plaster

Lime setting-coat on clay plaster with straw binder. Applied to hand-split lath over a timber framed wall of a brick family house at Old Economy Village, Pennsylvania

Split lath was nailed with square cut lath nails, one into each framing member. With hand split lath the plasterer had the luxury of making lath to fit the cavity being plastered. Lengths of lath two to six foot are not uncommon at Economy Village. Hand split lath is not uniform like sawn lath. The straightness or waviness of the grain affected the thickness or width of each lath, and thus the spacing of the lath. The clay plaster rough coat varied to cover the irregular lath. Window and door trim as well as the mudboard (baseboard) acted as screeds. With the variation of the lath thickness and use of coarse straw and manure, the clay coat of plaster was thick in comparison to later lime-only and gypsum plasters. In Economy Village, the lime top coats are thin veneers often an eighth inch or less attesting to the scarcity of limestone supplies there.

Plaster of Paris has a remarkable property of setting into a hard mass on wetting with water.

Heat-resistant plaster is a building material used for coating walls and chimney breasts and for use as a fire barrier in ceilings. Its purpose is to replace conventional gypsum plasters in cases where the temperature can get too high for gypsum plaster to stay on the wall or ceiling.

Plaster may also be used to create complex detailing for use in room interiors. These may be geometric (simulating wood or stone) or naturalistic (simulating leaves, vines, and flowers). These are also often used to simulate wood or stone detailing found in more substantial buildings.

In modern days this material is also used for False Ceiling. In this, the powder form is converted in a sheet form and the sheet is then attached to the basic ceiling with the help of fasteners. It is done in various designs containing various combinations of lights and colors. The common use of this plaster can be seen in the construction of houses. Post-construction, direct painting is possible (which is commonly seen in French architecture), but elsewhere plaster is used. The walls are painted with the plaster which (in some countries) is nothing but calcium carbonate. After drying the calcium carbonate plaster turns white and then the wall is ready to be painted. Elsewhere in the world, such as the UK, ever finer layers of plaster are added on top of the plasterboard (or sometimes the brick wall directly) to give a smooth brown polished texture ready for painting.

Products composed mainly of plaster of Paris and a small amount of Portland cement are used for casting sculptures and other art objects as well as molds. Considerably harder and stronger than straight plaster of Paris, these products are for indoor use only as they degrade in moist conditions.

Plaster is widely used as a support for broken bones; a bandage impregnated with plaster is moistened and then wrapped around the damaged limb, setting into a close-fitting yet easily removed tube, known as an orthopedic cast.

In orthotics and prosthetics, plaster bandages traditionally were used to create impressions of the patient's limb (or residuum). This negative impression was then, itself, filled with plaster of Paris, to create a positive model of the limb and used in fabricating the final medical device.

Powder bed and inkjet head 3D printing is commonly based on the reaction of gypsum plaster with water, where the water is selectively applied by the inkjet head.