Best Product: American Clay

Best Product: American Clay

Jonathan B.
Aug 23, 2007

We love clay plaster. It is one of the world's oldest and most venerable building materials, traditionally applied in thick layers over reed or wood lath in a method called wattle and daub. But then drywall came along, and now few people think beyond paint or wallpaper for their interior walls. Sure, you can install a thin layer of veneer plaster over drywall, but that's a job best left for a professional; plaster dries quickly and is difficult to work with. Not American Clay, which is a clay plaster intended for use over new or existing drywall. We've used it before and it's really a pleasure to work with. We think two things make it ideal for DIY application:

• Clay plaster is, by nature, an imperfect material; that's how it's supposed to look. There are few surfaces in today's home where you can see the touch of the human hand: here's to introducing some more.

• It's repairable when left unsealed. This makes it perfect for kids' rooms and other places where other types of plaster might get chipped. (Even children who live in rooms as perfect as this one are bound to nick the walls once or twice.) If you'd like to see what's involved in application, there's a great video here. Hint: applying clay plaster is a fantastic upper body workout. Cost varies quite a bit depending on your location (sacks of clay are heavy and expensive to ship), the color you choose (certain pigments, like blues, are rather rare), and on whether it's a DIY or pro job. Visit your local dealer to get an idea of cost in your area. Have you seen--or used--American Clay? What do you think? Images via American Clay; visit their online gallery for lots more pictures.

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