One of the projects I most proud of out of all the things we achieved with our house renovations (loft conversion, new kitchen, the resin floor) is our Tadelakt bathroom. It’s a material I have been wanted to use for years because it looks and feels like polished concrete and the results achieved really exceeded my expectations.
If you’re not familiar with this material, Tadelakt is a unique waterproof plaster finish originally from ancient Morocco. It was initially used by the Berbers to waterproof earthen cisterns for the hygienic storage of drinking water and later on, it was used to decorate exterior façades, manufacture small drinking vessels. If you’ve been to Morocco, you’ve probably seen it in public bathing houses and bathrooms.
The thing I love the most about Tadelakt is, how smooth it feels. While we used gorgeous grey tiles from Castelnau Tiles in the new loft conversion, I was eager to try something different to achieve a clean, contemporary look with our master bathroom. Following your feedback on Instagram, I have put a few details but if you have any questions, just leave a comment and I will try to answer them.
How much does it cost? £125 per sqm
What are the advantages of using Tadelakt? I love how seamless it looks and brings unity from one room to another. We only used it in our bathroom but should we tackle another renovation project, I would love to use it in the living room or kitchen for instance as its waterproof. If you are after a clean, contemporary look like our bathroom, Tadelakt is great because there are no grout lines, and its smooth surface is resistant to mould. The seamless application allows bespoke waterproof features (like built-in shelves) to be created while maintaining a timeless appeal.
What are the drawbacks?
Tadelakt can be used on floors as well but is only recommended for use in areas where hard shoes will not be worn because the surface can be scratched by grit and small stones (we put a resin floor in our bathroom and throughout the ground floor). It should also be used on sturdy structures with little give to best support the application of the product. Otherwise, large fissures can develop.
What colours can you achieve on the walls?
The product can be coloured with natural earth pigments or with synthetic pigments to offer a broader range of choices. The surface is polished to a shiny finish, with a slight variation in colour. Due to its unique composition, Tadelakt will develop both a patina and very fine cracks with time, which goes with the look. What type of preparation do we need before applying Tadelakt?
In the past, Tadelakt was commonly applied to solid, absorbent structures such as earthen, lime, or cement walls. Tadelakt is now frequently applied to a variety of surfaces including well-framed wood, brick, and cement block. It should be used on sturdy structures with little give to best support the application of the product. We put waterproof plasterboards on our walls.
How to care for it once the walls are done?
This lime plaster is made waterproof through both its inherent properties and its application technique. The olive oil soap that is rubbed into the surface of the product chemically reacts with the lime to form calcium stearate, which results in a surface that is both water and scratch resistant as well as hard and durable. Tadelakt not only offers a beautiful finish, but it also helps to provide a healthy living environment. The waterproof plaster can be cleaned with water alone, as it is coated with a soap solution to seal it. Regular recoating with soap solution ensures that the Tadelakt stays in excellent condition for years to come. The smooth surface also resists dirt and mould, making for a cleaner, low maintenance area.
What about if it cracks afterwards?
Tadelakt might develop both a patina and very fine cracks with time, which only serve to add to the exotic appeal of this ancient finish. We finished the bathroom in December and I only noticed one crack on our walls but I still have no regret and I would do it again.
Who can apply tadelakt?
Ha! Yes, you can give it a go but I feel it’s a specialized job and personally, I would only use someone who is used to apply Tadelakt to get a really good finish. We worked with Valentin from Tadelakt London which I initially found on Google but I highly recommend him because he has done an amazing job and I love our bathroom.