Roughcast or pebbledash is a coarse plaster surface used on outside walls that consists of lime and sometimes cement mixed with sand, small gravel, and often pebbles or shells. The materials are mixed into a slurry and are then thrown at the working surface with a trowel or scoop. The idea is to maintain an even spread, free from lumps, ridges or runs and without missing any background. Roughcasting incorporates the stones in the mix whereas pebbledashing adds them on top.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911), roughcast used to be a widespread exterior coating given to the walls of common dwellings and outbuildings, but it is now frequently employed for decorative effect on country houses, especially those built using timber framing (half timber). Variety can be obtained on the surface of the wall by small pebbles of different colors, and in the Tudor period fragments of glass were sometimes embedded.
Though it is an occasional home-design fad, its general unpopularity in the UK today is estimated to reduce the value of a property by up to 5%.
For homes with pebbledash wall coverings that require replacement, some practical advice can be found here. Pebbledash is also available in a variety of different colours. Most modern day pebbledash is not actually made from pebbles, but small flint chips, and should actually be referred to as spar dash, or spa dash.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, the central tower of St Albans Cathedral, built with Roman tiles from Verulamium, was covered with roughcast believed to be as old as the building. The roughcast was removed around 1870.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
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