Paul Atkins Plastering

Everything You Need to Know About Pebble Dashing

Between the 1890s and the 1930s, pebble dashing became a common rendering technique as part of the Arts and Crafts movement. It was not only cost-effective but also very long-lasting. Because of its features, pebble dash was commonly used in post-war housing construction as a way of concealing bad workmanship.

Pebble dashing has since become a controversial commodity, with critics claiming it is unsightly and impervious. It is also believed that it can harm a property's value.

Nowadays, experts are quick to distinguish between post-war suburban pebble dash (a blend of sand, asphalt, and aggregate) and roughcast rendering, which involves applying slightly larger stones to the walls and then painting them. Also, they agree that in certain cases, any old pebble dash would suffice.

Until now, the use of pebbledash in the outside walls of a house is still being practised. In fact, you may have probably seen some homes, not only in the United Kingdom, buts in various parts of the world that still use pebble dash in the finish. The "pebbles" conveniently conceal any existing poor-quality brickwork while still providing weather protection for the building.


In Scotland particularly, many homes are still finished with pebble dash render. Our rendering installers at Westville deal with pebble dash daily and are often asked questions about the finish. As a result, we have agreed to include answers to some of the most frequently asked pebble dash questions below.


What Is Pebble Dashing?

Pebble dashing is a modernized version of a Roman-era rendering technique that involves stippling exterior walls with a mixture of quicklime and sand.


It is thought to have started in the 16th century in the UK, where there had been a recent renaissance of brickmaking, but no one could afford a whole wall of the smart new bricks except the very wealthy. And there was "roughcast," which was a mixture of lime, sand, and stone that was slopped over jumbled stone exteriors like plaster to fill in the gaps.

Three hundred years later, it was this "roughcast" that drew the attention of William Morris's Arts and Crafts movement. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the famous architect, C. F. A. Voysey, who pioneered the use of pebbledash. He purposefully built buildings with cornices and window surrounds that would stand out once the "dash" was applied. Pebble dashing was a common design element in his homes.

Since his houses were white, clean-lined, and pebble-dashed, architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner claims that Voysey sowed the seeds of the modernist movement. Architects and designers who want a long-lasting look that will prolong the life of the building have always been drawn to the ability to shield the exterior walls of buildings from all types of weather.

After World War I, Voysey's use of the material was picked up. The people of the country desired something fresh and modern for their homes. That's when pebble-dashed came in. Pebbledash houses arose when there was a severe housing shortage, supplies were scarce, and houses had to be constructed quickly.

Pebbledash began as a way to conceal the low-cost bricks used in the construction of these homes. It was made out of dredged sea pebbles that were dumped by hand onto wet sand and cement. It was also common because it was easier to apply than stucco or rendering, particularly in areas where skilled labourers were scarce.

Because of its extremely powerful and resilient nature, it remained successful in the 1960s and 1970s. Pebbledash is also used to cover houses in the UK today.


What Is Pebble Dashing Used for?

Pebbledash is a form of rendering used for building exterior walls that has a rough finish created by pebbles and stone fragments in the topcoat. The pebbledash material is thrown and pushed in while the render is still damp on the wall surface.


Roughcast rendering is similar to pebbledash as larger stones are blended into the mortar before added to the walls. This results in a smoother final texture that is often drawn. This technique is widely used to provide weather cover for coastal houses, but it can also be found on medieval and stately homes.


How to Apply Pebbledash on Your Wall?

Pebble dashing is a form of wall covering that is most commonly found on exterior walls. Pebbles are tossed and pushed into two coats of a lime and sand "foundation." As a consequence, a wall covered in small, smooth pebbles can be formed. Some masons consider pebble dashing to be an art form, and they can create their base coat blend.


To achieve the best results, it is best to wait for a few days of good weather before pebble dashing your walls to enable the materials to dry properly.

⦁ Combine the lime and water according to the manufacturer's directions and set aside for 24 hours to slake (or hydrate).
⦁ Combine 1-part slaked lime, 6 parts sand, and 1 part cement in a mixing bowl.
⦁ Apply the mixture with a trowel to the pebble-dashed wall. Maintain a level trowel and use its edge to create a smooth, flat base layer on the wall. Allow for an hour of drying time before raking the surface with a notched trowel to produce a grooved surface that will aid in the adhesion of the second coat. Allow 24 hours for drying.
⦁ Give your pebbles a thorough rinse and drain. Place them in a large bucket or a large flat bin that you can put underneath the pebble-dashing wall.
⦁ Prepare the topcoat by combining 5 parts sand, 1-part slaked lime, and 1 part cement in a ratio of 5 parts sand, 1-part slaked lime, and 1 part cement. Apply this in a smooth, even layer to the wall.
⦁ Lay plastic sheeting under the pebble-dashing wall. This catches the loose pebbles as they fall and allows you to quickly collect and reuse them until the whole wall is protected.
⦁ Using one hand, hold the tray or bucket of pebbles below the wall. Use the other to scoop up some pebbles with a trowel. These pebbles can be thrown at the wall. Some of them cling to the cement, while the rest land on the plastic. Continue throwing pebbles at the wall until you have an even layer of pebbles covering the entire surface. Allow 24 hours for the pebbles to dry after lightly pressing them into the wall with the flat of the trowel.


Can You Remove Pebbledash from a House?

If you already have a pebble dash on your property but want to change it up, you have a few choices. One of your choices is to forcefully cut the dash and strip down to the house's foundation. This is possible, but it is challenging (we often suggest hiring a professional) because it also necessitates brute force, which can destroy the brickwork underneath.


To insulate and perform a makeover to the pebble dash is the best and easiest alternative. Over the pebble dash, 20mm external wall insulation boards can be mounted, and then a coloured render can be added. Not only can this fully hide the pebble dash and change the appearance of your home, but the insulation will also significantly increase the temperature of your home and lower your energy bills.


Can You Render Over Pebbledash?

It is possible to render over pebble dash, as stated in the previous issue, but typically not directly. Pebble dashing is normally not ideal for straight render on top of it due to its rough finish, so it should either be removed/smoothed over or covered with external wall insulation boards first.


Is It OK to Paint Pebbledash?

Painting pebbledash with conventional painting tools is possible, but it can be difficult. Because of the texture of the dash, it can be difficult to cover the entire wall, but it is possible with the right knowledge, application, and patience. External wall rendering, on the other hand, can be added and painted in any colour.


Is Pebbledash Waterproof?

Pebbledash seldom lets water in as long as no damp proof courses are crossed. To further minimise the chances of a water leak, a waterproof additive is often applied to the render. In case you don’t know, pebbledash was originally used to shield homes from water damage in many situations.


Can You Power Wash Pebbledash?

While pebble dash is durable, high-pressure power washing will erode it, chipping away the pebbles and resulting in an irregular, damaged finish. Pebbledash is low-maintenance, but we suggest washing it with a low-pressure warm water source and a PH-neutral detergent. This will assist you in removing any stains from your walls, leaving them looking as good as new.


What Are the Advantages of Using Pebble Dashing?

There are many benefits of using a pebble dash finish on the exterior of a home. Some of them are the following:


It is a low maintenance finish

Pebbledash walls are extremely robust and need very little upkeep once installed. This makes it a great option for rental homes or families who do not want to spend a lot of money on construction.


It covers poor-quality brickwork

Pebble dashing adds another layer of dependable security to your home's exterior. During the wetter months, this prevents liquid moisture from penetrating the surface, reducing the risk of internal injury.


It has high impact resistance

Pebbledash has high impact resistance, so it can take a beating. If you have a busy family home, this means your kids can kick a ball against the wall without damaging it.


It is stylish and sensible

The manufacturing methods used to create the stone have evolved. To ensure a safe, uniform product, all items are now washed before being bagged. All goods are now supplied in bag sizes that allow for simple on-site handling, and the industry has moved away from transporting products in loose, which can lead to contamination before application.


It has a wide range of colour and texture

The creation of aggregate goods designed specifically for dashing has given homeowners and builders a wide range of colour and texture options over time.


Today, manufacturers combine colours to construct almost any desired colour scheme. And with the increased availability of coloured renders, they can cater to almost any colour preference. Aggregates are now sourced from all over the world, a long cry from the local quarry of the past.


It helps keep heat in the home

Dashing has also allowed the enhancement of properties that would not have otherwise been able to meet the demands of legislation in terms of thermal performance.


External wall insulation has prolonged the life of many local authority-owned homes. Elegant aggregate finishes have also enhanced the appearance of areas beyond recognition, often offering a total change of atmosphere for the families who live there.


What’s Next?

Architects and designers continue to look for materials that will create a long-lasting finish and prolong the life of a building. That is why they have always been drawn to pebble dashing’s ability to shield the exterior walls of buildings from all types of weather. Pebble dashing is not only visually appealing, but it is also a great way to protect properties.


Now that your questions about pebble dashing are answered, we would like to know if are considering applying pebble dash to your house. Because if you do, you will surely benefit from a maintenance-free finish that will last a lifetime.


Do You Need Help in Applying Pebbledash? Call Our Expert Pebble Dashing Specialists!

For many years now, Paul Atkins Plastering has been offering quality and reliable pebble dashing services to property owners within Rickmansworth and the surrounding areas. By employing skilled and experienced contractors, we have become one of the most trusted pebble dashing service providers in our town.


At Paul Atkins Plastering, we are more than a pebble dashing and rendering company. We are a family-owned business that has been in operation for over 20 years and employs only the best professional tradesmen in their profession. Our credibility matches with our employees’ quality of work. We keep up with our promised schedule, not leaving the job after it has started.

If you need help with your pebble dashing application, do not hesitate to call for our service. Our specialists are always available to lend a hand. Get in touch with our friendly, expert rendering team by calling 01923 588737 today!


Leave a comment