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   Veneer Plaster Systems
 
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Interior wall systems have come a long way in the past 70 years. As recent as the 1940's plaster was applied over thin, rough wood strips called lath boards. These strips were approximately 1 1/2” wide by 1/4– 1/3” thick and spanned the studs. They were nailed in horizontal strips across the studs leaving a ½ -3/4” gap which provided a “shelf” to hold the plaster. The plaster sometimes had horse hair added to make it stronger, just as rebar does for cement.
 
Lath Boards on wall studs ready for plaster. Used with permission from http://www.uitmatehandyman.co.uk   Drywall is fast but not perfect.
Lath Boards on wall studs ready for plaster.
Used with permission from http://www.uitmatehandyman.co.uk
 
Regular drywall can be fast, but it is often not perfect, seams and screw holes may be visible.
 
Although drywall was rapidly becoming popular, drywall did not have the overall performance characteristics of conventional plaster. Plaster surfaces were dent-proof, offered better joint concealment, fewer nail pops, a hard monolithic surface which could be easily decorated, and plaster was more quickly finished than drywall. As well, the joint compound used to finish drywall can be dissolved by water, whereas the same amount of liquid applied to the surface of a traditional plaster wall for short lengths of time does not harm the surface.
 
Veneer plaster systems took the best qualities of the two systems and combined them. The treatment is much harder than a regular drywall surface, making it less likely to get unsightly dents and scratches. And like traditional plastering the coat is applied in one continuous flow over the whole wall so joints almost never show at all.
 

What exactly is a Veneer Plaster System?

Basically it is a sheet of gypsum with a layer of veneer plaster. Like traditional drywall, a veneer plaster system uses a gypsum core panel, or sheet. Except with this system a coat of plaster is troweled on the entire surface of the board. Manufacturers have given the panels a blue coating that helps differentiate it from regular sheetrock. As a result, many plasters refer to it as “blueboard.”
 
Besides color, blueboard differs from sheetrock in that the paper used to cover the core is dual-layered. The top ply is water absorbent and provides a “velcro-like” surface for the plaster coat to stick to. The bottom surface is waterproof and prevents the inner core from being waterlogged by moisture from the wet plaster. The special plaster is then applied in either one or two coats of about 1/16th to 3/32nd of an inch, depending on the quality of finish desired. A second plaster coat is done depending on the desired finish. The plaster can be highly polished.
 

Why the Higher Price tag is Worth It for Some

1 - It's Higher Quality

Veneer systems can be as much as 1/4 to 1/3 more expensive than a similar drywall application. However, homeowners that choose to go with blueboard and veneer plaster are looking for an upgrade over regular drywall. They generally are not happy with drywall's finished look due to the common screw and seam issues. With veneer plaster the finish is more even, without the of tell-tale seams and screw-hole dents.

2 - It's Clean

They also like that dust is almost non-existent. This is possible because the plaster is smoothed in a wet state and sanding is not required.

3 - It's Convenient

Homeowners that go the plaster and blueboard route also benefit from a shorter install time. It is usually a one day job. This can be a real time and schedule saver on any project! Drywall installation, on the other hand, involves four-steps: Taping, sanding, second mudding and sanding. This typically means that the drywall contractors have to come three to four times, thus adding days to a project.

4 - It's Streamlined

In addition, the unique finish of plaster is what some are looking for and this can eliminate the need for painting. As well, you can tint or color the plaster before it is applied. However, you should get a professional to do your veneer plaster as it takes an experienced hand to do it properly.

 
In any case, blueboard and veneer plaster is a great alternative to traditional drywall!