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Plaster for Bathroom & Shower Walls: Is It a Good Idea?

Plaster was once used to patch holes in a wall. But now, it is being used to cover entire walls, even those in the shower. Of course, tile has always been a superior choice for the bathroom, but plaster is becoming a popular alternative.

Some are skeptical about using plaster to cover the walls in their bathroom and shower. But when proper materials like waterproof plaster are applied correctly, it can be a great option. However, just like any material, plaster has its own advantages and disadvantages.

plaster shower walls
Source: The Plaster Collective

This article will cover plaster’s pros and cons, discuss the best bathroom plaster products, and give you other tips and alternatives.

Pros & Cons of Plaster for Bathroom & Shower Walls

Pros

  • Mold and mildew resistant
  • Energy efficient
  • Low material cost
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Plaster can crack
  • Harder to hang or install things on plaster walls (due to its thickness)
  • Difficult to install
  • High labor cost (If you’re not going to DIY)

Best Plaster for Bathroom & Shower Walls

Tadelakt Plaster

Tadelakt is a waterproof plaster that originated in ancient Morocco. Tadelakt has a reputation for being soft as silk yet strong as stone all while supplying a beautiful finish. Though Tadelakt has been used for hundreds of years, it has only recently gained worldwide popularity.

Tadelakt is not just a material but a technique. Due to its waterproof capability, Tadelakt has been used for pools, steam rooms, tubs, and showers.

Venetian Plaster

Like Tadelakt, Venetian Plaster has been used for centuries. However, Venetian Plaster gained notoriety during the Tuscan decorating movement of the 1990s. Venetian plaster is essentially limestone with no aggregates like marble or glass mixed in. Some have compared Venetian walls to living inside a painting.

Venetian plaster is not as waterproof as Tadelakt, so it’s usually not recommended for showers without specific treatment, but you can easily use Venetian for other walls in your bathroom.

Sphere8 Polished Plaster

Sphere8 is a new player in waterproof plaster when compared to Venetian and Tadelakt. Sphere8 was founded in 2009 but has quickly grown to become one of the best options for bathroom plaster.

Sphere8 has developed a unique look through rock-resin polished plaster that is waterproof and safe to use in showers. Sphere8 offers many plaster options for both commercial and residential applications.

Review: Tadelakt, Venetian, and Sphere8

All three of these plaster options are excellent choices in their own right. But let’s compare certain factors to see where each product shines to help you decide which plaster is right for you.

Price Point – Venetian

Venetian has the lowest cost at around $150 per square meter. However, Tadelakt needs to be applied in thick layers bringing material costs up, while Sphere8 has a higher base material cost.

Quality – Tadelakt

Due to its installation technique and how thick it is applied, Tadelakt is the highest quality, most durable, longest-lasting option available. However, all of these plasters are of high quality.

Style Options – Sphere8

Tadelakt and Venetian have many style options available. But they are outdone by Sphere8 that offers hundreds of style options.

Waterproof Capability – Tadelakt or Sphere8

Both Tadelakt and Sphere8 are more waterproof than Venetian. But it is difficult to say which of these two has the best waterproofing capability.

Maintenance – Venetian

Venetian plaster is very easy to clean and maintain. Of these three materials, Venetian takes the least work to maintain its pristine look.

Versatility – Sphere8

Sphere8 has shown more innovation in developing plaster products outside of the bathroom and includes various applications.

Things to Consider When Installing Plaster in the Bathroom

Layering

If you have never installed plaster before, you are likely unaware that you must apply it in layers similar to paint applied in coats. But with plaster, you need to be careful of cold joints, which are weak layers that can affect the next layer you apply. This is why plastering must be done quickly, especially in difficult areas like corners.

It Can Be Messy Work

Plastering can be messy work, and it will be quite easy to turn your bathroom into a disaster zone. Taking precautions like covering your drain with tape and laying plastic sheeting over your floors and bathtub can make any accidental spills much easier to clean up. Unless you are a skilled professional, you are likely to get messy and spill some plaster.

Choose The Right Plaster for The Job

As we discussed earlier Venetian plaster is not as waterproof as Tadelakt or Sphere8. This makes Venetian a bad choice for shower walls. You will want to choose the suitable plaster for specific walls or floors. Being mindful of the materials you use and what they’re capable of can save you from many future headaches.

Take Care When Cutting Holes or Outlets

Cutting large holes or numerous outlets can affect the integrity of a plaster wall. In most cases, proper layering and installation can avoid these integrity issues. But ultimately, there is only so much a plaster wall can take. It is best to limit holes and outlets to only what you require.

Alternatives to Plaster for Bathroom & Shower Walls

Tile

Tile remains one of the most popular choices for bathroom and shower walls. Tile is less expensive and easier to install than plaster. But on the other hand, plaster is easier to maintain and is more mold and mildew resistant. Plus, there is no grout to worry about.

Shower Wall Panels

Shower wall panels are another excellent alternative and are easier to install than plaster. These wall panels are built for showers and are not suitable for the other walls in your bathroom. But plaster walls, when properly maintained, will last longer than shower wall panels.

Stone

Using stone such as marble or granite gives your bathroom a unique look that plaster cannot replicate. The cost difference will depend on the type of stone you choose, but plaster will be a cheaper alternative in most cases. Stone walls require more maintenance than plaster but are more durable and will last longer.

FAQ

Can you use plaster in a steam shower?

In most cases, yes, you can, but that depends on the type of plaster you use. For example, Venetian plaster cannot stand water as well as other plaster and would be a terrible choice for a steam shower. Tadelakt, on the other hand, would be well suited to handle the moisture a steam shower produces.

Do you need to waterproof plaster walls?

Plasters such as Tadelakt and Sphere8 arrive at your home already waterproof. Additional waterproofing can be done to take extra precautions, but it is not necessary. But plasters that are not exceptionally waterproof like Venetian should be treated before installing them in your bathroom.

James B. Parker

I was taught carpentry at a young age by my father. After highschool I worked with my father as a Union Carpenter for six years.

Though I no longer practice carpentry professionally I still do projects at my home and for family and friends.