6 Uses of Plaster of Paris in Architecture

Plaster of Paris (POP) is a powder-like substance that is whitish and derived from gypsum. It is called the plaster of Paris because of the enormous reserves found in the French capital. POP is a material used widely in construction, and it is made up of calcium sulfate hemihydrates. POP production is done via the application of heat to gypsum until it reaches 150 degrees Celsius of temperature. 

When it is mixed with water, the dry powder becomes hard. It also becomes soft upon drying. There are several applications of POP in the fields of architecture and construction. Several ventures, manufacturers, and channel suppliers benefit from POP’s immense applications that cut across different areas. 

The application of POP in improving the aesthetics of the building has been in practice since time immemorial. It has been used since the times of the Roman and Greek empires in the ancient eras. POP has some other applications as a material for decoration. In medicine, it is also used for the production of casts that are used for fractured limbs. 

Here are the six main uses of plaster of Paris in the field of architecture: 

  1. It is used as the primary building material by many architects and constructors. They make use of POP primarily as a layer of protective coating on the ceiling and walls. This is typically done before the layer of paint is applied. In addition to the protective quality, it also provides a smooth coating that is resistant to fire. 
  2. POP has also found use as a casting and molding agent. It is very excellent in this regard, and this explains why many showpieces, decorative elements, and even statues are made using POP. It is applied in the creation of various decorative elements. These include beautification and false ceilings before coating with paint.
  3. Architects also turn to the POP when they want a material that is resistant to fire. Hence, it is useful in the production of fire protection systems and fireproofing products. POP can prevent fire outbreaks, and this is because the plaster coating releases water vapor whenever there is a fire outbreak. It also can transfer heat into the concrete or steel, thus preventing collapse. 
  4. The smoothening techniques in architecture cannot be said to be complete without mentioning the plaster of Paris. It is widely used in the making of surfaces of houses until they are perfectly smooth. The same applies to the ornamental designs of homes, especially the building’s ceilings and other parts.
  5. The sophisticated detailing of interior decoration of lavish rooms is also done using the plaster of Paris. However, only the most experienced and skilled builders can pull this off. It is not for amateurs or those who are just beginning the work of building. 
  6. The simulation of stone or wood detailing by architects, especially on vast building projects, is done using Paris’ plaster. 

The powder of the plaster itself of typically mixed with water, and it forms a consistent paste. Builders use this paste on the layers of any structure that they want to do a fresh surface on. With time, the material becomes hard with the evaporation of water. The evaporation itself is possible because of the chemical reaction that goes on in the material. 

The molding of the plaster into any shape can be done in the same location or another area, and the same goes for the assembly. The plaster itself is not strong enough and needs a lattice or other framework to offer much-needed support. 

As mentioned in the sections above, POP has found use primarily in relief work or in decorations. This is possible because of the many advantages that come with the material, and these include the following: 

  • There is no shrinking when it is setting, so there are no cracks. 
  • It is easy to work with, and it also mixes very well with water. 
  • It is not as heavy as it has a lightweight structure. 
  • It is resistant to heat and can even be used as a material for insulation. 
  • The thermal conductivity is low. 
  • It is possible to mold it into different shapes. 
  • The surface is of considerable thickness, and that makes it resistant to wear. 
  • Users can choose a rough or smooth finish. 
  • POP adheres properly to fibrous surfaces. 
  • There is smoothness as a result of the gypsum content in it. 
  • As it does not react with paint, an alkali attack isn’t possible. 

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