Plastering vs Pointing: Understanding the Key Differences

Plastering and pointing are two common techniques used in building construction and renovation. While both techniques involve the application of mortar, they serve different purposes and require different methods.

repointing a wall

Plastering and Pointing Overview

Plastering involves covering entire surfaces with a smooth layer of material, such as cement or lime mortar, to create a smooth and even surface on walls and ceilings, this is primarily done inside. It is typically used to protect the exposed surface of the masonry, providing a layer of insulation and fire resistance. Plastering can also be used for decorative purposes, creating a smooth and elegant finish on walls and ceilings.

On the other hand, rendering is a more precise process of filling in gaps and cracks in masonry work, such as brickwork or stonework which is done outdoors. It involves filling in the gaps between bricks using a mortar mixture, creating a sealed and stable structure. Pointing, known as rendering in the UK, also adds an aesthetic element to brickwork by providing a neat and even finish. The main difference between plastering and pointing (rendering) is their purpose, with plastering used for inside jobs and pointing/ rendering which is carried out outside.

plastering the interior

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Plastering

Plastering provides a smooth and even surface to walls and ceilings, which is aesthetically pleasing. It also helps to protect the walls from moisture and water damage, as well as from sunlight and wind. With this in mind, it can also help to prevent the growth of mould and other harmful microorganisms.

Disadvantages of Plastering

Plastering can be a time-consuming and messy process, which requires a skilled tradesperson to complete. It can also be expensive, especially if a large area needs to be plastered. Additionally, if the plaster is not applied correctly, it can crack and deteriorate over time, which can compromise the structural integrity of the wall.

Advantages of Pointing

Pointing is a process that is used to seal the joints in masonry walls, which helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the wall. This can help to keep the inside of the building dry and free from dampness. Pointing also helps to improve the overall look of a property, as it can be used to create a neat and uniform finish.

Disadvantages of Pointing

Pointing can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, especially if the property has a lot of joints that need to be filled. It can also be difficult to achieve a consistent finish, which can affect the overall look of the structure you are working on. Additionally, if the pointing is not done correctly, it can lead to water penetration and damage.

advantages of pointing

Applications and Uses

Plastering in Building Construction

As mentioned earlier, plastering is a crucial process in building construction that involves applying a layer of plaster on walls and ceilings to create a smooth and even surface inside. It is used to cover up defects, such as cracks and holes, and to provide a base for wallpapering or painting. Plastering can also be used to create decorative features, such as cornices and false ceilings.

There are various types of plastering materials, including gypsum, lime, cement, and plaster. Each material has its own unique properties and is used for different purposes. For example, gypsum plaster is ideal for internal walls and ceilings, while lime plaster is better suited for external walls due to its ability to withstand weather conditions.

Pointing/ rendering in Building Construction

Pointing is a process in building construction that involves finishing the mortar joints between bricks or stones. It is used to strengthen and protect brickwork from weather conditions, such as rain and frost. Pointing can also improve the appearance of older buildings and give them a fresh look.

There are different types of pointing, including flush pointing, weathered pointing, and bucket handle pointing. The choice of pointing technique depends on the type of building and the weather conditions in the area. For example, flush pointing is ideal for buildings in dry areas, while weathered pointing is better suited for buildings in wet areas.

plasterer up close

Common Problems and Solutions

Problems in Plastering

It’s not uncommon for problems to arise during plastering. Some of the most common problems include:

  • Cracking: This occurs when the plaster dries too quickly, causing it to shrink and crack. To prevent this, the plaster should be applied in thin layers and allowed to dry completely before applying the next layer.
  • Blistering: This occurs when air becomes trapped between the plaster and the surface, causing bubbles to form. To prevent this, the surface should be properly prepared before applying the plaster, and the plaster should be applied in thin layers.
  • Hollows: This occurs when the plaster is not applied evenly, causing hollows or depressions to form.

Problems in Pointing

Some common problems that can occur during pointing include:

  • Cracking: This occurs when the mortar dries too quickly, causing it to shrink and crack.
  • Vermin infestation: This occurs when gaps are left between the mortar and the bricks or stones, allowing vermin to enter.
  • Defective workmanship: This occurs when the mortar is not applied evenly, causing gaps or hollows to form. To prevent this, the mortar should be applied evenly and smoothed out.

Conclusion

In summary, plastering and pointing are two distinct techniques used in building construction and renovation. While plastering involves covering entire surfaces with a smooth layer of plaster inside, pointing is used to strengthen and protect brickwork- which is predominantly done on the exterior of structures. Plastering is used to create a smooth and even surface on walls and ceilings, while pointing is used to fill gaps between bricks and protect the structure from water damage.

Good plaster is meant to stick comfortably to the context and be hard and robust. There are different types of plaster, including gypsum, lime, cement, and mud plaster, each with its own unique properties and uses. On the other hand, pointing can be done using different techniques, including struck joint pointing and tuckpointing. The purpose of pointing is to provide a strong and stable structure that can withstand the elements.