Defects in Plastering

The author of this blog is Pavan, a trained and certified home inspector working at HomeInspeKtor. You can get in touch with him here.

Finding a quality home is a dream for many people. We furnish homes in many ways, one of which would be painting. Painting is usually done on the plastered surface, plastering not only makes the surfaces smooth but gives a good finishing to the walls, ceiling and other parts of building, and it is an important part of construction. To ensure good quality of plaster, it is important to know about the defects in plastering. By understanding the type of plaster defects and its causes below, it would be helpful to resolve them before they get bigger.

Non-structural Cracks
Structural Cracks

Cracks on Plastering

A crack on a plastered surface is the most common problem one would notice. Cracks can be broadly classified as structural cracks and non-structural cracks. 

Non-structural cracks include crazing where a network of fine cracks like spider web with hairline depth appear due to rich cement content in mortar or due to the presence of excess dust in the sand or due to improper curing. Cracks due to shrinkage (loss of moisture content from the plaster) also fall under non-structural cracks. 

Cracks which are visible on plaster resulting from cracking of walls are known as structural cracks. These can be caused by differential movement of the foundation and thermal movement of the roof slab and this type of cracks often forms a straight vertical line or horizontal line or in steeped diagonal lines. Structural cracks are the one to be worried about, which need immediate evaluation for the root cause and correction guidance from the experts.



Blistering is the formation of small patches of plaster, swelling out beyond the plastered surface. This can be due to inappropriate mixing of the cement mortar and dampness intrusion in a wall which tends to form air pockets. 



Efflorescence is a white crystalline substance appearing on the surface of walls due to presence of soluble salts, such as sulphates of sodium, calcium and magnesium. Efflorescence occurs when water reacts or mixes with masonry materials to move salts to the surface of the element. It sometimes also occurs due to any source of moisture or leakage in associated areas.



Debonding occurs when a layer of plaster is separated from the wall mainly due to bond failure. It can be caused by an excessive thick plaster layer or when the outside skin shrinks at a different rate than the plaster in contact with the wall and inadequate substrate preparation or may be due to a dusty, oily or dry substrate.

Uneven Plaster Surface

Uneven Plaster Surface

Uneven plastered surface is the irregularity in the finishing plane of the plastered surface due to poor workmanship. Usually irregularities come up when the work is done improperly affecting the aesthetics of finishes.

Popping of Plaster

Popping is the formation of conical-like holes that break out of the plaster. It is caused due to the presence of contaminant particles such as burnt lime or other organic materials in the mix of mortar.

Softness of the Plaster

The extreme dampness at specific points on the plastered surface transforms that plaster soft. The softness mainly happens owing to unnecessary thinness of the finishing coats, existence of deliquescent salts, extreme suction of the undercoats etc.


It is necessary to be aware about the type of plaster defect your home has and its level of acceptance. Plaster defects like structural cracks need immediate attention and correction. When other defects such as blistering, efflorescence, and softness of the plaster are found, there would be the chances of moisture intrusion into the walls or ceilings for which dampness inspection is recommended. Considering health and safety as priority all these defects require immediate attention and correction before the issue gets bigger under the guidance of a team of experts.

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