This article is about the building material. For the adhesive medical dressing, see Sticking plaster.
Plaster of Paris, or simply plaster, is a type of building material based on calcium sulfate hemihydrate, nominally (CaSO4)2. H2O. It is created by heating gypsum to about 150°C, 2(CaSO4 · 2H2O) → (CaSO<
Plaster expands while drying, then contracts slightly just before hardening completely. This makes plaster excellent for use in molds, and it is often used as an artistic material for casting. Plaster is also commonly spread over an armature (form), usually made of wire, mesh or other materials. In medicine, it is also widely used as a support for broken bones; a bandage impregnated with plaster is moistened and then wrapped around the damaged limb, setting into a close-fitting yet easily removed tube.
Lime plaster is a mixture of calcium hydroxide and sand (or other inert fillers). Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes the plaster to set by transforming the calcium hydroxide into calcium carbonate (limestone). Whitewash is based on the same chemistry.
To make lime plaster, Limestone (calcium carbonate) is heated to produce quicklime (calcium oxide). Water is then added to produce slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), which is sold as a white powder. Additional water is added to form a paste prior to use. The paste may be stored in air tight containers. Once exposed to the atmosphere, the calcium hydroxide turns back into limestone, causing the plaster to set.
Lime Plaster is used for true frescos. Pigments, diluted in water, are applied to the still wet plaster. The pigments bind with the plaster as it sets.