Robin concludes his discussion of past notes.

This month, we continue with some interesting questions and comments from readers.

Plaster Man,

I am a drywall contractor in central Texas for 21 years. I have a builder who wants to put a colored plaster in a large home (USG Decorative Interior Finish System) over drywall (5/8 s/r tape/float/prime/plaster bond/colored plaster/sealer). My samples have been staring out or cracking-what's wrong? Is it imperative to keep a constant room temperature? Also a lot of this plaster is over a Styrofoam-type block wall system. What do I do where the s/r wall abutts to the block wall-tape with Durabond mud? Thanks for your help!


I referred this question to John Mandel, of USG:

"USG has no recommendation to plaster over a foam block application. Therefore, we would not be able to make recommendations for joint treatment as requested. Foam block would not provide adequate suction or offer an appropriate surface to absorb moisture for a proper plaster application. We would also be concerned that an adequate bond would not be achieved."

For more information on USG product application, please see USG's "Gypsum Construction Handbook."

Here's a letter I received back in March:


I'm curious to know where you hail from? I've been plastering for 19 years. There is no shortage of work here-if I like I could work seven days a week. The true reason that this trade is becoming a "dying art," as you say, is because of a lack of desire. Young workers simply do not want to spend the time it takes to actually "learn" this trade. It is my experience that young guys want to earn the good money involved with a trade such as plastering but lack the patience and discipline necessary to achieve a journeyman status.

Joseph Cassio


Regarding Joe's comments about the "true reason" plaster is a dying art, I thought I'd let you have an opportunity to voice your opinion. Drop me a line, I'd like to hear your thoughts.

First, a comment by William Millar, "Plastering Plain and Decorative," 1897.

"No one can look round on the condition of the trade without being impressed with the fact that a great change for the better is required. How this is to be accomplished no one can accurately say. It may be done partly by individual effort, partly by co-operation, and partly by legislation. Competition between employers in London and other large towns, the constant effort to undersell, cheap labour, bad materials, the adulteration of good material with inferior and the general scamping of work have brought discredit to the trade. Good materials and work are spoilt by careless or incompetent workmen, or by want of proper supervision. The bonds of good fellowship between employers and employed should be broader and closer, to ensure mutual success and to avoid failures."

New products and materials are constantly being introduced to the plastering industry. I'm doing all the reading and testing I can, but if you have some new technique or product you've been using, let me know.

Remember, your letters are read by me personally and I always try to respond right away. If you have a picture of the crew, a project you're doing or have done and are particularly proud of, send it in to me through this magazine and I'll do what I can to get it in the column.