Tadelakt is a natural, lime-based plaster that's both decorative and waterproof. This Traditional Moroccan wall finish, originating in the Marrakech Region, is the traditional wall finish found in Hammams, the Moroccan steam bath, and in the riads of Marrakesh. Rediscovered in the West, Tadelakt is appreciated for its durability and aesthetically pleasing appearance which brings to mind exotic places.
It has a smooth appearance, which is slightly shiny like Marmorino Veneziano, but is thicker and with a different texture.
It is very durable, water resistant, but still breathable.
Note: This is a description of the normal application.
Tools necessary for application: A normal big trowel, a good big trowel, a medium-size good trowel, a soft cloth.
Protection of the work area: Place masking tape and protective material over the baseboards and around windows and doors .
Don’t apply in temperatures below 5°C (41°F).
1.Here is some advice on how to easily apply Taledakt. We have included some notes to compare this modern application method with the antique or traditional Moroccan method. It should be noted, however, that more and more in Morocco, they are using more modern application methods to give a younger, more refined effect compared to those obtained with the rougher, more rustic methods which use unsophisticated tools and poor, unrefined products.
2. The preparation of the substrate is similar to that used with Marmorino Veneziano. The ideal substrate is new plaster composed of lime, a little cement and sand. It can also be applied over old substrates as long as there is no crumbling and it has been treated with a primer.
3. Mix a 20 kg container of material with about 6.5 – 7.0 litres of water. Once the material is well-mixed, it can be coloured and then left to rest for about a half an hour.. It can then be applied, either the same day or the next day. (The material will still be good for several days if it is kept in a sealed container away from heat. However, it’s best to apply it within 2 or 3 days.)
4. After the substrate has been prepared, the first coat, tinted or not (white), is applied with a metal trowel. (With the traditional Moroccan method, it is applied with a tool similar to a Swiss trowel which leaves a slightly wavy surface.) Let the first coat dry completely (overnight). Remember that part of the pattern that is left in the first coat will be visible in the finished work.
5. Before beginning the second coat, we advise, as we do in the instructions for Marmorino Veneziano, to replace all the protective tape. For the second coat, apply the material with the colour of your preference with a large metal trowel.
6. As with Marmorino Veneziano, it should be applied over the entire surface smoothing out any marks left by the trowel, keeping in mind that any marks left at this stage with remain visible in the final surface. (For those wishing for a completely smooth surface, pass over the entire surface with a with a sponge float.)
7. Let it dry a little until it loses its shine which is due to an excess of water. In some places you will see a slight lightening of the color. At this point you can apply the third coat using the same material and the same big trowel or a smaller one if you chose. The important thing is to use a trowel with sharp edges. Apply a thin layer, pressing (unifying) the second and the third coat into one thickness.
8. You will have to pass over the surface numerous times, always moving the trowel in different directions until you achieved the desired finish. If you see bubbles appear during this stage, you’ll need to wait a little more before the final burnishing stage. It is advantageous at the final stage of polishing to use a plastic trowel. At this point in traditional Moroccan applications, the burnishing is done with a polished stone that, given its round shape, allows the artisan to follow the wavy surface which has been created in the preceding coats with the Swiss-type trowel.
9. When the Tadelakt is completely dry, usually after one day or more, it can be protected with a special Moroccan soap (the same one which is still used in the public, Moroccan baths) which is made from olive oil. The soap is spread as is, or diluted up to 100%, with as much water as desired. Since this soap is very dark, we advise that it be well-diluted when applied on light colours in order to avoid unwanted discolorations. Normally it should be applied with a metal trowel, rubbing it on the surface until it is completely absorbed. Any excess soap can be removed using a cloth after about 10 minutes.
Protecting stucco surfaces against dirt
Tadelakt, thanks to its smooth surface, is a finish which doesn’t get dirty easily. However, we advise the following protective treatments.
When the Tadelakt is completely dry, usually after one day or more, it can be protected with a special Moroccan soap (the same one which is still used in the public, Moroccan baths) which is made from olive oil.
The soap is spread as is, or diluted up to 100%, with as much water as desired. Since this soap is very dark, we advise that it be well-diluted when applied on light colors in order to avoid unwanted discolorations.
Normally it should be applied with a metal trowel, rubbing it on the surface until it is completely absorbed. Any excess soap can be removed using a cloth after about 10 minutes.
Note: To get a very strong and durable protection against water we suggest to apply a waterproofer like our Hydrocalce before applying the Moroccan soap.