Our bedroom now has blue stucco walls, on this day our first year anniversary that we arrived in Battambang to live.
Its always the way, your own room is always the last remaining room to do. We still have the office to finish, but I love what I have done in our bedroom. This was the first time I have really plastered. Many time Ive done a painted finish, the last time being in our Indochine room — and there, one of the seven layers I used was 10% plaster. This gave a depth to the wall and an amazing texture.
Robert had mentioned to me numerous times about hating the raw grey cement walls in our bedroom. I suggested plastering, but Robert initially disliked the idea — especially because of all the dust that was involved. “I’ve dealt with builders and renovators for 7 months, and I am tired of grit. No more!!”
So one day I did a test on the roof. I loved it, and I am happy to say so did Robert. But then it was a debate about colour. I wanted pink, Robert blue. When he returned one day after visiting the ancient teak houses of Wat Kor, he was inspired by the faided blue and white patina at one of the district’s homes. He photographed the outside wall, and I was one over. Blue it was.
Thus I embarked on doing our bedroom walls. Four walls, with a height of three meters (about 12 feet) and a total length of 40 meters. It took me, and our assistant Mr Kim Sorn about two weeks. (As for Robert, he stayed clear.) I earned seven blisters, a sore back, and hands that were blue for five days. Thank you Frangipani Spa for the two manicures and pedicures. The highlight of the stucco walls was the three hour mani/pedi for $55 Laying down and sleeping while my blue hands were reincarnated.
How to stucco walls:
My first advice is, get someone else to do it! It is hard work!!! A painted finish is much easier, but the beauty and the depth of a stucco wall is divine. In Cambodia plaster is called white cement so I made a mixture of white cement (plaster), water-based blue paint and water. When applying the plaster, do not do an entire section, apply some here, and some there. You will run out of plaster, and you will need to make more. You will change the ratio, more paint or less plaster ending with different batch colours. By applying different batch colours to the wall, you will create an aged look, the same as the colonial buildings opposite us here in Battambang. NB: For first coat apply minimal splotches of a totally contrasting colour, to give a distressed age finish. You can then plaster atop, around, and alongside these. We chose yellow.
Making the plaster mixture:
You don’t need too much paint. I used a dark navy blue, and the walls turned out to be a light/medium baby blue. If you do not mix the paint well enough, when you apply the plaster mixture to the walls you will have spots of paint mixed in the plaster, which is not a problem if you are attempting an aged distressed finish. This you can smudged with the trowel when applying. Personally, I do prefer when the paint is mixed fully, but the combination of a fully mixed mixture, and almost fully mixed batch is a great look.
1. Tape the area you want to stucco and with a contrasting paint colour, randomly brush on the wall.
2. Make your plaster mixture. Add about a cup of water to a large bucket, 1/4 cup of paint and 1/2 cup plaster. This rachio is not important, as different batch colours are needed. Mix this well. Use a stick, or even an egg beater or whisk that you don’t want to reuse again in the kitchen. If you don’t mix well enough, when you apply the plaster to the walls you will see paint spots mixed with the plaster. This is ok, just mix it better next time. Inconsistency is what you are wanting to achieve. Add a lot of plaster and water. In the end, I used about 10 cups of plaster and added enough water so it was like a pancake batter.
4. Use a trowel, and smear some plaster onto the wall. When applying, be inconsistent. Move from the area your applying to, to another area of the section you doing.
5. When you have completed the mixture, make another batch (step 2) and then go and fill in the areas that you had made with the first batch. The first batch will have dried by now, so spray the area with water first to make it easier to apply the second batch . This moistens the first batch allowing the second batch to blend in and stick easier. Do not do this all the time, as the texture of the wet plaster, being applied to the dry, creates a layer of depth. Invariably, the plaster will start to dry out in the bucket, so add a little more water and stir as needed. If you add too much water, add more plaster powder.
6. When your wall is 99% filled with plaster use a spray bottle and mist water all over the stucco wall. This will blend the layers together. For my distressed finish,I sprayed some areas so that the water drips down the wall to create lines. I would also add extra light coloured mixture to an area at the top of the wall and then spray more water, allowing long lines of plaster to run down the wall.
7. When the wall is dry, using the paint in step one to touch up areas requiring contrasts. Apply small amounts of wet plaster to the dry wall, smearing it over the wall creating another layer. When you’re happy with your creation, allow it to dry fully.
8. When the wall is dry again, apply a clear chalking compound over the entire stucco wall. This will set the plaster and make it water proof.
LIST OF ITEMS NEEDED
Paint for plaster
Paint for walls
Tape for bordering walls
Bucket and a stick for mixing
Spray bottle of water