Renders of different types have been around for thousands of years, and in the UK they've been popular since Roman times. Some types have faired better than others, coming and going with changes in fashion.
Pebble dash* rendering falls into this group. It's a bit of a 'marmite' situation: some people love it, others hate it! It was widely used in medieval buildings and experienced a revival during the arts and crafts movement, but has since become associated with drab rows of Northumberland council houses built in the housing boom after the second world war.
(*or pebbledash, either is acceptable!)
When you take a moment to consider the advantages it brings and how attractive it can be, it's well worth considering. A pebble-dashed house can look amazing, and in some cases just as good as those that have a coloured render. Also, there are many benefits, which is why MisterRender wholeheartedly recommends it as a low-cost option.
If you want to know more about pebble dash render, then take a look at our guide below.
Any render is a form of plaster wall covering, usually applied to the external walls of buildings to provide a protective coat that dramatically reduces the chances of damage to the structure. It's generally waterproof or weatherproof, it adds extra insulation, and it has aesthetic appeal.
The mix is typically made up of sand, cement, lime and water.
With pebble dash, small stones, pebbles and stone fragments are thrown onto the wet mortar and pressed in to make them secure. It is usually applied in two coats, and the most important rule is that each coat must be a weaker mix than the previous one.
The pebbles provide an appealing, textured surface that looks natural and protects the brickwork beneath.
Pebble dash is often confused with wet dash (or roughcast render), which is similar. However, with wet dash render the pebbles and stone fragments are present in the mixture before it is applied.
Because of this, pebble dash is also referred to as dry dash (and sometimes spar dash). MisterRender rendering specialists would be pleased to discuss the different options with you to find the best one for your house.
Although it can be undertaken as a DIY project, it's a messy, time-consuming task and it needs an expert hand to get it just right. It isn't a simple case of slapping on the mortar and sticking the stones in!
MisterRender technicians are dedicated to providing the very best results with each project, and they follow each step carefully.
Here's a quick overview of what's involved in a typical project:
This is vitally important to any rendering project. Before the new render is applied, all surfaces must be clean and free from mould, dust, dirt, algae, organic growth, grease and old paint. Leaving any of these contaminants on the wall could cause the render to fail.
MisterRender's professional plasterers will examine the substrate (wall surface) carefully, checking for any damage and ensuring it is clean. It's essential that any severe damage is repaired before any rendering takes place, or it could compromise the project's success.
They will also test the suction of the walls to see how porous the surface is, and will make any necessary preparations accordingly. This might involve a special render being applied*, or metal or wood laths being fixed to the wall surfaces.
(*This is known as dubbing out, usually using portland cement)
Any salt deposits (efflorescence) will be brushed off the wall and it should be reasonably dry. If it has been exposed to heavy rain, the plasterers will need to allow time for it to dry out sufficiently before they begin.
If the project requires us to work on existing pebbledash, we will need to check it for soundness before going ahead. Any loose or badly-damaged areas will have to be chipped off so the plasterer can apply render to bare bricks.
Removing pebbledash is a difficult, thankless task that can damage the brick wall beneath, so it is best left to the professionals. Unscrupulous tradespeople often render over old pebbledash, and this causes problems in the future.
Also called the base coat, this forms the foundation on which the second coat and the pebbles will hang, so it must be done properly.
Your MisterRender specialists will know precisely what ratio the mix should be, adjusting it for each layer. Hydrated lime is usually added to cement render to improve its flexibility as this reduces the risk of cracks appearing due to the constant expansion and contraction of the building as it heats up and cools down.
The prepared render is trowelled onto the wall to give a smooth finish. After an hour or so, the surface is raked with a notched trowel to allow the next layer to bond well.
The top coat is mixed with a weaker cement-to-sand ratio, often with a waterproofing agent. It is applied by trowel to create an even, smooth surface until the whole wall is rendered.
Once this is ready, it's time to throw the pebbles into the mixture.
The pebbles are washed and drained, and a sheet is laid by the wall to catch any that fall during the process. The plasterer throws handfuls of pebbles at the wet render and presses them firmly into place. Any that fall onto the sheet are collected and reused until the wall is covered.
A weatherproof coating can be applied at this stage to give extra protection.
On the whole, painting pebbledash is not a good idea, but it's not impossible.
The rough-textured surface, especially if there are sharp stone fragments, makes it difficult to cover it adequately and achieve a satisfactory finish. In addition, the dips and peaks created by the different-sized stones mean that you'll need to use a lot of paint.
Many homeowners have tried this and most have been unhappy with the results. Also, if you do paint pebble dash it is rarely a good long-term solution for covering up aged or damaged wall surfaces.
However, if the original render is in good condition, there are other options (for example, applying a coloured render over the top) if you want to cover pebble dash, and MisterRender experts are happy to discuss these with you.
It's been around for a long time, so it must have something going for it! So, why is pebble dash a good idea?
Here are some of the benefits:
Many older buildings have substandard bricks that don't look great and which have begun to crumble in places. A pebble dash wall covering immediately transforms the appearance of your home and stops further deterioration.
Once the render is set, you don't have much work to do to keep it looking good. If it becomes dirty or you find that mould, moss or algae are accumulating, you can use a pressure washer on a low setting (never set it too high or you'll loosen the stones).
Ideally, use a pH-neutral detergent, as harsh soaps and chemicals can damage the render.
Damaged, old, or poor-quality brickwork can allow water inside your house when exposed to heavy rain. This causes all kinds of problems and may even affect the structure in the long term.
Pebbledash, although already water-resistant, generally contains waterproofing agents and a weatherproof coat can be added over the top to protect the property even further.
Professionally applied pebble dash is extremely tough. The addition of lime as part of the cement content means that the mixture will set hard. Lime draws carbon dioxide from the air, essentially turning it back into limestone. The addition of the pebbles makes the material harder still.
Although some people are yet to be convinced, pebbledash has a place in the 21st century. This is especially so when it is used alongside other materials, like a pre-coloured render. You can choose the colour of your pebbles and match this with a range of textures and materials to create a unique look for your home. Feel free to discuss your plans and designs with the MisterRender team and we'll do our best to make it happen!
On average, it will last between twenty and forty years. You can lengthen the lifespan of your pebbledash walls by using a professional rendering specialist, like MisterRender.
Poor-quality installations will fail sooner, so it's always better to have the job done properly to save you the extra hassle and expense.
It's worth checking your pebbledash surface every so often for loose or missing pebbles as these will expose unpainted mortar that will be prone to frost damage. You may also spot hollow patches on the walls of your house that could lead to cracks which will allow moisture in, potentially leading to dampness.
If you weren't a fan of pebbledash, hopefully we have converted you by now!
So, if you like the idea of pebbledash and want to talk about your ideas, call our Northumberland team today to discover more about our services and for any additional information that you might need.
This method is a cost-effective way of protecting your walls and creating a beautiful new look for your home.
MisterRender will guide, advise and support you through the whole process, giving you the confidence to know that your home is shielded from the worst of the weather and looks amazing for many years to come.
A render is typically less expensive than a pebble dash and is easier to maintain, remove, and replace, so we would prefer a render over a pebble dash.
The presence of damp is a regular phenomenon in pebble dashed houses. Rising damp and penetrating damp are the two types of damp. While rising damp is produced by water penetration on an outside wall, penetrating damp can occur at any level of the building due to water ingress on an exterior wall.
Power washers should not be used on pebble dash. Only a low-pressure hose should be used. Pebble dash is a form of stucco that has pebbles incorporated in it. Pebble dash is a decorative surface that has been used for home exteriors, and walls.
Spray the area with a high power surface cleaner. On contact, this destroys the growth and should be left on the surface for 10-20 minutes. After that, wash the area with a hosepipe and brush or, ideally, a SMALL pressure washer.