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Horsehair Plaster vs Asbestos (Differences Explained)

When we talk about plasters today, we commonly associate them with cement, lime, and gypsum or Plaster of Paris. However, many people still live in homes with popular plasters from another era, especially in structures that have withstood time and weather for centuries.

Yes, we are talking about horsehair plasters and asbestos.

While many governments have prohibited people from using asbestos plasters because of health concerns, horsehair plaster still edges over today’s modern options for various reasons. But despite these benefits, modern construction techniques do not feature this age-old remedy.

So what is horsehair plaster made of? Why and when did they stop using horsehair plaster? Does horse hair plaster have asbestos? If you live in an old building, your walls might have this plaster formula. So knowing about the different properties and concerns of horsehair plaster becomes crucial.

This article will help you understand the difference between horsehair plaster and asbestos & how to repair or remove horsehair plaster.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Horsehair Plaster vs Asbestos – Key Differences

Horsehair PlasterAsbestos
Horsehair plaster is costlyAsbestos is cheaper than horsehair plaster
It takes time for application, and you will have to put more effort into doing it correctly.Asbestos is simple to use and apply.
You cannot apply horsehair plaster quickly.Asbestos is easy to use.
Although some variants of horsehair plasters contain asbestos, most of them are safe.Asbestos is not healthy and causes various health problems, including mesothelioma (a type of cancer)
Horsehair plaster is safe for the environment.Asbestos is not safe for the environment.

What Is Horsehair Plaster Made Of?

Horsehair plaster was very common a century ago. Many construction workers used them in their plasters to provide more strength and durability to their structure. Although there were other alternatives, such as other animal hairs and plant-based fibers, horsehair dominated all with its superior quality and structural properties.

So how do you make horsehair plaster? This plaster combines sand, lime, horsehair, and plaster. Hairs from the tail and mane were common ingredients for this plaster, and when combined with plaster, they offered a stronger bond and strength to the structures.

In the past, employees would mix horsehair with lime, plaster and sand to create horsehair plasters. The plasters needed to be applied straight away or else their composition would change.

What Are the Benefits of Horsehair Plasters?

Although modern plasters have numerous advantages over the age-old remedy, horsehair plasters excel in some departments. Here are some reasons to use horsehair plaster in your wall:

  • Horsehair plaster can be a great option to create a unique, textured style.
  • Horsehair plastered walls are great for soundproofing
  • Horsehair plastered walls resist fire more efficiently.
  • You can get better insulation in horsehair plastered walls during any season.
  • You can create custom designs or curves more effortlessly using horsehair plaster.
  • Horsehair plastered homes have more value and worth than other houses.

horsehair plaster vs asbestos

Can You Remove Horsehair Plaster?

Since horsehair plaster is plaster over lathing, removing it requires separating the lath and the plaster. In the past, workers used to use horsehair plaster combined with wood lathing for wall finishing. They would need to layer the plaster on top of this.

Therefore, if you want to remove it, expect some levels of difficulty.

If you are up for it, here are the steps to remove horsehair plaster from your wall:

Step 1: Prep

Since you are removing dried plaster, there will be a lot of dust while you start your removal process. It would be best to close all the doors and windows and cover everything to save time after the removal process is over.

Step 2: Safety

Use safety precautions, such as a respiratory mask, gloves, and protective clothing, before commencing the removal process. It will cover your body and protect it from other problems, including breathing issues.

Step 3: Turn Off Power

Turn off the power and use certified tools to check for buried wires. Additionally, use a tester to check for electricity if you find wires during the removal process.

Step 4: Start Hammering Away (Gently)

Start with a hammer and hit the wall gently to avoid damage to the entire structure. After you manage to break an opening, use your hands to remove break-away chunks from the wall. If you fail with a hammer, employ a sledgehammer to do the work.

Step 5: Separating The Plaster

After clearing the first layer, use a pry bar to separate the plaster from the wood lathing. Ensure that you do not apply too much force while using a pry bar.

After separating the plaster from the wood lathing, use your hammer to remove small plaster pieces from the lathing.

Step 6: Cleaning Up

Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to sweep the dust and clear the room. If you can’t remove the dust in one day, let the dust settle and continue the next day.

More Questions

Is Horsehair Plaster Considered Dangerous In Australia?

Horsehair plaster has many variants, and although most of them contain lime, plaster, and sand, some may contain asbestos. Since asbestos is not suitable for your health or the environment, horsehair plaster containing asbestos can cause various health problems, including cancer.

It would be best to contact a professional and check your walls if you have doubts.

Does Horsehair Plaster Have Asbestos?

As we mentioned earlier, some horsehair plaster variants contained asbestos. Since construction companies used asbestos to provide superior strength and soundproofing to their structures, they started incorporating horsehair and asbestos to reap benefits from these components.

However, several governments banned asbestos in plasters as it can cause various health issues, including cancer.

Although most horsehair plasters are free from asbestos, it would be best to call a professional and check whether your wall contains asbestos. If it does, leave the removal process to the professionals.

Is Horsehair Gyprock Asbestos?

No, horsehair is not gyprock asbestos. Gyprock contains various sheets of felt paper plastered together to form plasterboards. These boards provided better insulation and a smoother finish.

Although horsehair plasters contain asbestos, you cannot term them gyprock asbestos. Gyprock is a different variant of plaster, also known as drywall, which takes less time to dry.

Wrapping Up

Although construction companies do not use horsehair plasters anymore, you can still find remnants of this age-old remedy in many buildings. While it may not be as efficient as modern plasters, the historical value that this plaster provides is remarkable and is undoubtedly worth preserving.