Tadelakt (tadla:kt) is a waterproof plaster surface used in Moroccan architecture to make baths, sinks, water vessels, interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roofs, and even floors. It is made from lime plaster, which is rammed, polished, and treated with soap to make it waterproof and water-repellant. Tadelakt is labour-intensive to install, but durable. Since it is applied as a paste, tadelakt has a soft, undulating character, it can form curves, and it is seamless. Pigment can be added to give it any colour, but deep red is traditional. It may have a shiny or matte finish.
Etymology and history
"Tadelakt" means "to rub in", from Amazigh/Berber.
Constituents and chemistry
The basic constituents of tadelakt plaster are:
- lime plaster (not Portland cement)
- in some cases, marble or limestone sand (but not other aggregates)
- natural soap (often "black" or olive oil soap) to speed carbonation of the surface and impart water-resistance.
The soap chemically reacts with the lime plaster, forming lime (calcium) soaps. Calcium soaps are insoluble in water, and fairly hard. They are familiar, in areas with calcium-rich ("hard") water, as deposits in bathtubs, sinks, and showers; when soap is mixed with the water's dissolved calcium carbonate/lime, calcium soaps form.
- 2 C17H35COO−Na+ + Ca2+ → (C17H35COO)2Ca + 2 Na+
Traditional application includes polishing with a river stone and treatment with oleic acid, in the form of olive oil soap, to lend it its final appearance and water resistance.
In Morocco, the traditional application technique:
- plaster powder is mixed with water for 12 to 15 hours prior to the addition of pigment.
- the plaster is applied in one thick coat with a wooden float, and smoothed with the same.
- before the plaster sets, a flat, smooth, hard stone is used to compress the plaster, then a plastic trowel used for the final polish.
- it is mechanically polished using stones or abrasives harder than the plaster, providing a smooth, sometimes shiny, finish.
- lastly, an olive-oil soap solution is used to seal the plaster
In modern times, it has been used outside.
- Earthen plaster
- Moorish architecture
- Moroccan style
- Polished plaster
- Venetian plaster
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- "Tadelakt Exterior stucco Vancouver - Venetian Plaster and Stucco - Vancouver BC". authenticplasterfx.com.
- Media related to Tadelakt at Wikimedia Commons