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"Color of medieval plaster?" Topic

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AegonTheUnready21 Feb 2019 5:47 p.m. PST

Painting some medieval/Tudor houses and wondering if white is the best shade for the plaster. Plenty of modern Tudors have white, but modern manufacturing methods weren't availale in the 1500s. What would be the best 'generic' plaster color?

Aethelflaeda was framed21 Feb 2019 6:03 p.m. PST


Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2019 6:51 p.m. PST

Off white or perhaps a ivory?
The houses might have been whitewashed, but I suspect it would have darkened and yellowed after a few months. Besides, a pure white would make you want to wear sunglasses when you looked at the village.


Brennus22 Feb 2019 12:43 a.m. PST

Check out these pictures. This restoration caused quite a controversy at the time, but apparently there is good historical evidence for use of iron oxides in rendering in this period. These turn a rust colour over time. I guess the ultimate choice depends on what looks good on your table!


bsrlee22 Feb 2019 3:14 a.m. PST

Also, in some regions there were naturally occurring pigments in the rock burnt to make the plaster, so just about everyone would have had pale yellow, buff or pink plaster, except for the 'Nobs' trying to show off their wealth by whitewashing with imported (to the area) white lime.

advocate22 Feb 2019 9:51 a.m. PST

ANd there is the restored Great Hall of Stirling castle.
Look at a variety of pictures, as the colour varies in them – as it has mellowed over time.

Steamingdave222 Feb 2019 1:06 p.m. PST

"pink" in Suffolk:


Aethelflaeda was framed22 Feb 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

I think anyone who could afford plaster would also be up to whitewashing.

Druzhina22 Feb 2019 10:29 p.m. PST
Condottiere23 Feb 2019 2:50 p.m. PST

The material between the timbers is called "daub" (not plaster)--a mixture of clay, sand, and dung. It would be applied to the woven "wattle" then typically whitewashed with a limewash.

Herce Salon de Guerre24 Feb 2019 2:20 p.m. PST

In our part of the northern Loire france quite cream lower Loire white, in Normandy almost pink cream, around Le Mans a reddish pink


Gwydion24 Feb 2019 4:12 p.m. PST

Are you talking about the 'plaster' in Tudor 'Black and White' half timbered houses? Or interior plaster?

For outside – Brown timber( vice later black stained) and white/cream 'plaster' – a lot of the 'daub' would have cow dung in it to help stop staining (I know!) and deterioration. It would be a lime wash/dung mix – avocado to yellow/cream finish.

Interior would be whitewash/limewash plaster.

(I worked in a Tudor 'Stately Home' in the early 1980s during renovation – they went with a black stained timber and whitewashed render, but the historical architect tore his hair out trying to get them to to make it historically accurate! He failed.Too many visitors wanted the 'traditional' Black and White finish!)

Gerard Leman26 Feb 2019 12:59 a.m. PST

To supplement the previous comments, remember two things: (1) in the moist northern European climate, just about everything will grow mold, daub, with its cow dung being no exception. Adding a black or brown wash to your building will simulate that nicely (in addition to helping to add a little depth. I use inks for this, thinned out as necessary. (2) Cooking and heating was done with open fires, and fires produce soot. The areas around the chimneys would be darkened in comparison with the rest of the building. Again, ink works well to simulate this.

MiniPigs26 Feb 2019 6:42 p.m. PST

With that Suffolk look; you're in the pink!

Keith Talent04 Mar 2019 5:08 a.m. PST

Some sort of brown.
The classic white and black half timbered look in England is not contemporary, it was a Victorian fashion to tidy up all those scruffy looking buildings. Didn't exist much before the 19th century.

Gwydion09 Mar 2019 5:54 a.m. PST

Glad you agree!grin

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