What Is the Difference between Plastering and Rendering?

Rendering a wall

If you’re a homeowner looking to get your walls renovated, you might ask yourself what exactly the difference is between plastering and rendering. Both are wall finishing techniques that can enhance the appearance of a wall while protecting it from moisture, sun and tear.

The main difference is that the term plastering is used for finishing interior walls while rendering refers to the coating for exterior walls. Although similar materials can be used for both techniques, they differ in their durability, the way of their application and their appearance.

Read on to learn more about both techniques and their differences.

What Is Rendering?

In the simplest terms, rendering is a coating for the exterior walls of a building. It’s usually used to update an outdated looking property, hide ugly brickwork or to increase the value of a house before it goes up for sale. Rendering is one of the easiest ways to totally change the appearance of a property without extensive remodeling (source).

Rendering can be accomplished with a few different materials. Commonly used ones are lime mortar, sand & cement, or even a polymer resin. One of the handiest things about rendering is the fact that you can add colored pigments to the material before you apply it to the building. This can save you a fortune in painting costs.

A properly applied render is incredibly durable. Think of it as a protective layer for your home. It has to be able to withstand everything the brickwork can and more.

How to Render a Wall?

The ability to render a wall properly is a skilled trade, this isn’t something we’d recommend getting an amateur to do. The rendering material is applied to the masonry with a trowel before being smoothed out to create a beautiful finish.

Refer to this video for an introduction to the technique.

Some modern chemical renders have been designed to be sprayed directly onto the wall, although these are generally thinner and require several coats to build up.

You don’t have to render an entire house to change its appearance. A new trend emerging in home design is to only render certain portions of the exterior for aesthetic purposes.

What Are the Advantages of Rendering?

Rendering a property doesn’t just add value to it. It can act as a protective layer, preserving the brickwork underneath against the elements. This is especially useful for people who live in harsh climates that wear down buildings faster than average.

What Is Plastering?

Plastering has a lot in common with rendering. It’s often an important element in updating a home to get it ready for sale. Plastered walls are generally thought of as being a little more traditional of a craft in most cases though.

The technique of applying plaster to a wall is an old one, which dates back thousands of years and can even be found in the ancient pyramids. Throughout the ages, the specific techniques used to create plastered walls changed a bit, but they all abide by the same core principles.

To create plaster, you need a mineral aggregate and a binding agent, from there you just add water.

When it comes to the plaster that you find online or on the shelves of your local home improvements store (like these) you’re likely to find that they’ve used gypsum as the mineral component. One of the nicest things about gypsum is that it doesn’t need any kind of binding agent to be used as a plastering compound (source).

Generally speaking, most plastered walls are applied over the top of a wooden structure called a “lath”. This is basically just a series of slats screwed on to the wall frame. It acts as a surface for the plaster to grip on to.

How to Plaster a Wall?

Most modern plasters come in the form of a dried powder. You then mix this powder with water until you get it to the consistency of paste. In order to get the kind of results you want from a nicely plastered wall, you need to be patient – most walls take three coats or more to achieve this.

By applying the plaster in layers, it will dry more evenly and results in a stronger wall. This is a skilled trade that takes years of practice to become truly proficient. If no absolute perfection is needed, experienced DIYers can also do it themselves – the following video shows you how to do it.

As plastering requires some experience and takes a lot of time, many DIYers tend to prefer drywall for interior wall finishing. Read our article ‘drywall vs. plaster’ where we’ve compared both techniques and their pros & cons.

What Are the Advantages of Plaster?

There are countless old buildings that have retained the original plastered finish. Plaster finishes are incredibly strong and long-lasting. It’s becoming more and more desirable for modern homes to imitate aged plaster due to this.

What Are the Differences between Rendering and Plastering?

If we’re breaking it down into simple language, rendering and plastering are both pretty similar in execution.

The biggest difference between the two of them is that plastering is the technique that you use for interior walls, and rendering is generally what you’ll be doing if you’re working on exterior walls.

The second thing that differentiates these two techniques is just how durable the materials involved are. At the end of the day, what it really comes down to is that they’re both just different ways of covering walls with a strong coating.

Read on to learn more about the differences in strength, protection and durability (sources: diynot, wikipedia, oneflare)


Even though plaster creates a very strong, rock-like finish, rendering is much stronger. This is because rendering has to be designed to weather whatever nature throws at it and remain in good condition.

In order to achieve this, it’s not uncommon for rendering to have cement added to it. Something that you would never do with your interior plaster walls.


In some places, they will actually render the interior walls of a home before adding a plaster finish over the top. This can help to reduce condensation and moisture build-up in the walls and is generally considered to be much stronger than traditional walls.

It’s not unusual for owners of commercial buildings to have this done to reduce the wear and tear during rental.

The reverse cannot be said for plastering, however. If you apply a gypsum-based plaster to your exterior walls it will begin to erode away the next time it rains.

Durability and Longevity

Because rendering is exposed to the elements it may not last as long as plaster. A well-maintained plaster wall can last for over a hundred years without any problems. This is not to say that there’s anything wrong with rendering, it’s just taking more of a beating day in day out than the interior walls of your home do. Obviously, if the rendered walls are internal then they don’t suffer from this problem.


When it comes down to it, rendering and plastering are different techniques for different jobs. Both will provide you with excellent high-quality results that you can expect to last for years with proper maintenance. It’s just a matter of using the right tools for the right job.

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