American Clay plaster kit: Do try this at home

AmclayhandOne of the most compelling products to be displayed at the upcoming West Coast Green building conference (San Francisco, Sept. 20-22) will be American Clay plaster, a natural clay application that can give otherwise ordinary walls depth and a warm glow.

Manufactured in and using materials from the United States, American Clay, based in Albuquerque, uses natural clays, recycled and reclaimed aggregates, and natural pigments in three finishes: Loma, Porcelina (smoother) and Marittimo (stronger).

This nontoxic plaster helps earn green buildings a LEED rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for good indoor air quality, low-impact packaging and the use of recycled or reclaimed products, or both.

American Clay Plaster can be applied with a trowel over new drywall, painted plaster and firm paints, but it’s not recommended for use over OSB (oriented-strand board), tongue-and-groove paneling or any other material that expands and contracts at a high rate due to changing moisture content. It’s also not recommended over tile. See more about surfaces.

AmericanclayTo learn more, you can watch a how-to video online or order a DVD for $12 or a video for $10.

Plus, you can purchase a kit (pictured) for $36 plus shipping so you can try it at home. The kit includes three small bags of premixed samples of each of the three finishes, three practice boards and a trowel.

If it seems like something you’d enjoy doing, you can buy all your supplies at several retail stores in Southern California, including Living Green in Culver City, Architectural Coatings + Design Center in Tarzana and Cal-Wal Gypsum Supply in Orange.

You can also take a hands-on workshop at Ox & Olive Painting in San Diego on Sept. 29, Nov. 3 (tentative), Dec. 8, or Jan. 26.

Anyone tried this at home?

2 Comments on American Clay plaster kit: Do try this at home

  1. Kathy Price-Robinson

    Jeannie, that’s a great question. Here’s a Q&A on installation over wallpaper I found on the American Clay website. Hope this helps!
    Q: I live in an old house that has WALLPAPER, and I cannot remove it due to what is underneath. Could I apply the primer over the wall paper and then the plaster?
    A: We recommend that wallpaper be removed, as its reliability is
    unpredictable. Our clay adds considerable moisture to the wall during
    application, which may soften the wallpaper or loosen the glue which
    holds it. And clay plaster has some weight (about 50 lbs. per 100 square
    feet), which may cause wallpaper to fail over time. Since we want our
    product to be satisfying for years, you can see why we are suspicious of
    wallpaper in the substrate. We do not warranty our product if applied
    over wallpaper or wood products.
    One of the staff gave this recommendation for removing wallpaper: she
    found that a 50-50 mixture of liquid fabric softener and water applied by
    spray or sponge to scored wallpaper worked well.
    If you have tried these various things and the wallpaper refuses to
    budge, then I would recommend that, when it is completely dried, you
    seal it well with a blocking sealer (Zinsser, Bullseye) to keep moisture
    from soaking back into the wallpaper. Then use our American Clay
    Sanded Primer to provide “tooth” for the clay plaster to grab onto, and
    follow the published instructions for proper application. This technique
    will probably work, but the risk is your own, as we cannot guarantee it.

  2. Jeannie

    This looks like a cool (or maybe warm) solution for refinishing my bedroom walls and ceilings. Can it be applied over wall paper, or must I first go through the ordeal of stripping all of that off?