Faster Plastering on My Straw Bale House Please!

Written by Andrew Morrison

man plastering straw bale wallPicture this. Your bank loan is on a strict timeline. Your plastering job seems overwhelmingly huge because you plan to do it yourself. You don’t have any money in the budget to hire a professional crew, so your options are few. How do you speed up the process so that you can finish the job on time and avoid bank penalties? Good news, you have some options for faster plastering on your straw bale house.

man plastering straw bale wallFirst option: Spray the Plaster. I’ve spoken about this before and how a simple spray gun can drastically speed up the plastering process, especially for a small group of people. By spraying the plaster, you can dramatically increase the application rate for the mud. You still need to trowel the plaster into the bales and “press it back” (see previous blog entry on this topic), but you’ll save a lot of time applying the mud.

Second Option: Premix. This is tied to the first option because it is absolutely required if you plan to spray the plaster since your application speed will be so amped up. By taking a day or so to mix a bunch of plaster, you’ll be able to focus on plastering all day long once you start as opposed to having to stop and start each time you need to mix a batch of plaster.

men creating plaster In addition, any hands you have helping you will be able to work on the wall, not just the mixer. Furthermore, premixing the plaster and allowing it to slake overnight (wrapped tight in plastic so it can’t dry out, of course) will make it much more workable the following day. That workability also increases the amount of time it remains plastic. This means that you can wait longer in between when you apply it, when you press it back, and when you scratch it. This is perfect for a small crew as it keeps you efficient all day long.

Third Option: Close the loan with only a brown coat. This is not ideal from the visual point of view, but it does create some positives. First of all, the brown coat will get a long time to cure and set up. This will give you a great base for your finish coat. Secondly, it will look “finished” to some extent so the bank can close the loan and you won’t have any delays on the end of construction financing. plastered straw bale cottage This is of course not the best option for several reasons including the fact that once you’re “done” with your project, you’ll really want to be. Not to mention the fact that your interior walls, if left incomplete, will require you to move furniture, protect floors, and so on down the road to complete the finish coat. Not much fun.

So, you have some options for sure; however, the best option is to hire a professional crew to take care of the plastering or plan for the extra time and effort it will take to do it yourself. To be sure, you’ll need to really consider how long it will take to do yourself before you lock yourself into a loan that is time sensitive. If you don’t, you may end up against the wall, to use a bad pun.

You can’t simply ask a plastering crew how long a job will take and expect to complete the work in the same time period. They’re professional and will likely have a huge crew, 14 or more people in some cases. You need to know how many sets of hands you’ll have and how hard those hands can work. As I always say, if you can afford it in the budget, hire a professional crew. After all, the first thing your visitors will see is your plaster and the quality of that plaster will have a huge impact on the overall perceived quality of your house.

Want to learn more about straw bale houses and how to build one? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 16 Day Straw Bale eCourse! Find out more HERE.

4 Responses

  1. dear Andrew,
    thank you so much for your e-lessons-
    I am only a beginner in straw bale construction but looking foreward to advance my knowledge on this field
    and see it flowering in this dry earth of greece-

    yours sincerely
    athena zougra

  2. Charles. Heres a great answer to your question that I got from Andy deGruchy, the owner of He’s the guy that I got my sprayer from and he sells tons of Natural Hydraulic Lime on the East Coast.

    Hi Andrew,

    I have found that to have the oomph you need to push the sanded lime material you need at least 24 cfm (cubic feet of air per minute)at 90 p.s.i. continuously. So if you get a 90 psi pancake compressor- sure it puts out that psi pressure but peters out in no time because it does not have the volume of air per minute to keep going and won’t spray sanded stucco without frustration. In order to not have any question regarding having enough volume of air so you can keep working all day long I get the tow behind 85 cfm (if they have them that small) or 125 cfm air compressor (which is more typical) from a rental place.


    Andrew L. deGruchy


    P.O. Box 151

    Milford Square, PA 18935

    Technical help phone 215-536-6706

    e-mail [email protected]

    Material Order only:

    Attn: Jim Plante

    Phone: 215-536-6706

    Fax: 215-536-2281

    [email protected]

    Physical warehouse address for pick-up orders:

    1801 South 12th street

    Allentown, PA 18103

    Attn: Ed

    On Behalf of the St Astier Network the information that is supplied is by way of advice only and does not constitute a specification. Specifications are job specific and generally require a site visit and formal agreement. The information contained in this communication is not for general distribution.

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