The Ever Changing Color of Plaster –

Written by Andrew Morrison

One of the great aspects of straw bale houses is the ever changing color of plaster as the sun moves across the sky and as light plays with the surface of the structure. Picking a color for your building can, as a result, be a difficult process. I am sure you have heard of or have yourself had a hard time picking the right color paint for your bedroom from a small chip. Now imagine trying to decide on that color knowing that it will change throughout the day!

straw bale finish plasterThe change in color comes from the texture of the plaster itself. Unlike a smooth painted surface, the plaster has thousands of small shadow producing grains of sand in the finish. Those shadows play with the light as it hits the walls. In the morning, the light is coming up from below and is a softer hue as the day begins. The effect on the plaster is that it too seems softer.

As the day progresses and the sun climbs in the sky, the light becomes a bit more harsh and the walls tend to brighten. This is great as more light is reflected into the house as a result. In the evening, the warmth of the plaster color will be the highlight.

The picture above and one below are of the same color plaster within the same house. In fact, the pictures were taken at the same time of day. The difference comes in the orientation of the house and the affects of the exterior environment on the reflections of light entering the building. You can see a strong difference in color as a result.
straw bale window
The point of all of this is that you will need to be aware of the changes in color when you make your selections. The same holds true for exterior colors, by the way. So plan accordingly on both sides of the walls. If you are working with clients, you must make them aware of how light will play with their color choices. If you don’t, you run the risk of an unhappy client who was expecting a pure color to match the chip they chose from. Ouch!

Most clients will be happy to hear about the sweet affects the plaster color will have on their home. The key is make sure you are clear about it up front. The more aware they are and the more you help them understand that the color shifts are actually an asset, the better. If you are building your own home, then play with colors. The ever changing shades will only enhance what you strive to create.

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