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Natural plaster alis over a painted wall?  RSS feed

 
                          
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Has anyone ever tried this? We just moved into a shared house, and our room is 6 shades of ugly.  We would like to cover the walls with 2 coats of alis, as described in The Natural Plaster Book. The owner isn't convinced it will hold up long term.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Wow, I'd love to hear about this, too. What exactly is "alis?"
 
Nicholas Covey
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Location: Missouri/Iowa border
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Found this: http://listserv.repp.org/pipermail/strawbale_listserv.repp.org/2007-March/000699.html

"Basically it's a paint rather than a plaster and if you translate the 
word correctly it simply means "smooth."
So a smooth clay paint is what you're after.  Depends upon the soil 
how you mix it.  If you go to a ceramic supplier and buy bagged 
powdered clay you will typically need to mix it with some type of 
filler.  In the SW a lot of people have used mica flakes, but could 
be anything like marble powder, whiting, depends what you have.  Add 
silica sand if you want some texture.  Usually this works somewhere 
around 1 part clay to 1/2 part filler.  If you simply window screen 
some type of soil most likely you want need any filler.  From there 
you usually benefit with some type of binder.  Depends upon what 
you're going over.  If it is a clay plastered wall you might get away 
with just the clay.  If something else then most likely you will need 
to add something.  Keeps it from dusting and falling off the wall.   
Popular one for a lot of people is some kind of starch paste as in 
wheat.  Easy recipe is mix 1 part white flour with 2 parts water
boil 1 1/2 parts water and then add the 1 to 2 mix.  When it thickens 
dilute it with 2 parts water to 1 part paste.  Then add your dry 
ingredients to the point that it resembles a thick latex.  You want 
to brush it on thick so that it covers, going over drywall and smooth 
surfaces will take more coats (typically.) Once it starts to set up 
take a tile sponge or something similar (damp) and work out the brush 
marks gently.  If you have mica in the mix it will help bring it 
out.  Other glues will work by the way, you would have to 
experiment.  This oughta get you started."
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Thanks Quittrack, that helps explain it. It would be very interesting to try on regular walls as Toddman wants. I'd love to hear about any one trying this.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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It might be tough to get that to adhere to the woodwork, if the owner was good about choosing a glossy "enamel" sort of paint.
 
                          
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So we made a test patch of alis on a 1'x3' piece of sheetrock.  Kaolin clay, silica sand, homemade wheat paste, mica powder, and water.  Getting the lumps out of the wheat paste is key, as is buffing the finish coat at the right time - after it is set up enough not to be gooey, but before it is rock hard.

We think it's beautiful, as did everyone else we showed it to, except our landlord, who said "no".

This was a fun experiment and I would definitely consider the option if you own your home.

As a compromise with our landlord, we're painting the room with casein milk paint, which also has a great natural look, is non-toxic, and doesn't add any new texture to the walls.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Glad you found a compromise, too bad there wasn't a mutual preference.

Good to have this information, too!

I might share it with some family members who are renovating a rental of theirs.  I already introduced them to the idea of tung oil.
 
Erica Wisner
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toddman wrote:
So we made a test patch of alis on a 1'x3' piece of sheetrock.  Kaolin clay, silica sand, homemade wheat paste, mica powder, and water.  Getting the lumps out of the wheat paste is key, as is buffing the finish coat at the right time - after it is set up enough not to be gooey, but before it is rock hard.

We think it's beautiful, as did everyone else we showed it to, except our landlord, who said "no".

This was a fun experiment and I would definitely consider the option if you own your home.

As a compromise with our landlord, we're painting the room with casein milk paint, which also has a great natural look, is non-toxic, and doesn't add any new texture to the walls.


We re-did our rental in milk/clay/lime paint too.  Worked great everywhere except the kitchen cupboards, which are flaking more than I'd like.  Clay paints give a nice soft light-soaked feeling, and they went over latex/acrylic paint just fine. 

We also checked - from all reports, it looks like you can re-paint with latex over the clay paint, too, so that's not a problem for future occupants.

In either case, sanding the surface lightly will remove loose / glossy stuff, and allow the new paint to stick better.

With alis, my understanding is it's kind of a glaze, with wheat paste being the main binder.  It's translucent - the color underneath shows through.  On searing white lime plaster, it's bright as fresco painting, or watercolors.  Gorgeous and vibrant.  Over an ugly color, it could be a nightmare. 
So whitewashing or priming first might be a very good idea.  We primed our dark orange wall with white latex before applying a clay-paint color coat, and that worked out well.

In future, I'd be tempted to try a clay or lime-based primer, because the latex stinks for days, and the clay paint didn't smell bad even when we used sour milk for the binder.

-Erica
pix at: http://picasaweb.google.com/eritter see "ana Annex Renovation."

Our landlady is more sympathetic than most; she wants this place to evolve into some kind of eco-retreat or B&B, so she's been very supportive of our experiments.
 
Permaculture isn't that hard to understand. Sometimes a little bump helps: richsoil.com/cards
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