Robin discusses a previous job using decorative finishes.

Photo 1: Rubbing a surface with a clean trowel.

Photo 2: Run on with the same color and texture.
As I've mentioned before, I mainly concentrate in my business on the world of plaster repair, restoration and renovation. Personally I think this is a good lane to be in, as I read recently that by the year 2010, 80 percent or so of construction will be in the renovation field. That's impressive and it tells a big story.

However, I've always been intrigued and fascinated by the steady and growing number of new products coming onto the market. Last year at the Hardware Show in Chicago, I lost count of how many new hammers were being introduced. It was amazing! I think I stopped counting at 40! Now, if that's the case with hammers, you know innovation and invention are also going to show up in the wall and ceiling field. And that's exactly the case.

A finish of warmth and quality.

To market, to market

Recently I have been sent several samples of wall and ceiling finishing products. Some have to do with "broken paint"-type applications, making the walls look like marble. Others have a layering system using different plaster materials and drywall compounds. One in particular caught my eye. Since the seminar and application were done close to my home and since it really fits in with plaster renovation well, I wanted to include some details and pictures.

This particular product is Decorative Interior Finishing System made by USG. Now I'm going to be very truthful here. I would say that though I have an open mind, I am mildly resistant to change. I am comfortable and enjoy working with products and methods that are familiar. So I'm not trying to get you to go over to this type of product, I'm just reporting on what's new. That being said, let's get down to the details.

About 50 plasterers and drywallers were in the room for the seminar, which was put on last spring. Ed Jakacki was the featured speaker. The actual methods of application were demonstrated and discussed in detail. I mention when this seminar was put on because I checked up on how many people were actually applying this type of product after the seminar. It appears that not many picked it up. It's that "resistance to change" thing again. Any new product is going to meet with the same attitude. The question is, will it catch on?

Here's my view. The product is great from several angles. First, it's fast, and, second, it's easy to apply. Third, the color is added right into the plaster. That's a big one. There is a color chart with 12 different colors from which the homeowner can choose. If pastel colors and a southwestern type of finish is desired, this is the product to use. Now if you want the technical way that this product is to be applied, you better check with USG. I was more interested in seeing how those who picked it up were using it. I found two interesting methods.

The look

The pictures I included with this article show my first stop: A new house. The basic material used in doing this type of finish is diamond interior finish. Marvin Newman of Newman Plastering applied it in a similar way that he uses when doing regular diamond finish. Blue board is hung and then mesh tape is applied to all seams. Color is added to the first batch of diamond and run over all seams, in the interior angles, and all beads are filled in. This is allowed to set up and then a coat is applied directly over the entire room. Another coat is applied in a skip trowel texture with the same batch. No water troweling is done, rather it is burnished--a light or heavy rubbing of the surface with a clean trowel (photo 1). This causes a two-tone effect in the material.

The ceiling was run on with the same color and texture (photo 2). I liked the expansion joint run down the center of the vaulted ceiling. It gave it a sharp, clean look. The overall effect of this type of finish was one of warmth and quality. You're not going to get a much harder finish. It especially looks nice with accent areas in the home, such as this inset (photos 3 and 4).

The last step done was a sprayed-on clear finish. This gives the surface a sheen that is very pleasing to the eye. In my opinion, this is where most of the plasterers and drywallers bailed out on this system. They are not familiar--nor comfortable--using an airless sprayer on the job. So here's my idea: If you decide to try this type of finish, stick to doing the plaster. I've talked to several contractors about this type of finish and I simply tell them how much I'd do the plastering work for. He'd have to arrange to get the clear coat finish sprayed on. I've talked with four contractors so far and this is no problem at all. The only other concern that contractors have voiced is: "What if someone damages the plaster after I'm through?" The answer is simple. Since the color comes in pre-measured amounts, it's easy to make a batch for touch-up that will match perfectly.

USG recommends that this type of finish go over a basecoat. This is the second example I wanted to mention. I recently was shown a home that was an older house that had cracks in every wall and ceiling. Re-surfacing was done as we've discussed in past issues: A bonder applied, followed by a basecoat with mesh embedded into it. Over this base the interior decorative finish was applied. First, a coat was run over the entire room, and then skip-troweled and burnished. This just gives us one more way to handle the renovation of an older home where a textured finish is desired.

With both these examples, in renovation and new construction, a tremendous amount of area can be finished in a very short time. There is a great "how to" video available on interior decorative finish from USG. You can request one from them directly or through this magazine. If you're using this system, I'd like to hear from you and what kind of results you've been having. Here in the Midwest, the southwestern style is going to take a while to catch on, but I have high hopes that eventually it will be a popular choice for homeowners, both in new and renovation projects.

If you have a product or any questions or comments you'd like me to comment on, feel free to reach me through this magazine. Until next time, keep an open mind and continue to expand your horizon!