Pebble Dashing; what it is and its benefits

by | Nov 2, 2022

Pebble Dash Tools

Pebble Dashing rendering method gained popularity from the 1890s up to the 1930s. It was an element of the Arts and Crafts movement. Besides being durable, it was also affordable. Due to its characteristics, the pebble dash was a popular building material after the war. People used them to hide poorly done construction work.

Over the years, pebble dashing has attracted a lot of criticism. People who dislike them cite reasons like their waterproof nature and ugliness. There is also a concern that it can lower the value of a property.

In modern times, experts like to differentiate between the pebble dash used after the war to coat suburban houses, a mixture of aggregate, asphalt, and sand, and roughcast rendering that entails placing bigger stones on the walls and applying a coat of paint on them. They also concur that any pebble dash technique would work fine in some situations.

Up to now, builders are still using pebble dash on the outer walls of a building. Actually, you might have seen some houses in different parts of the world where the pebble dash has been applied as finishing and not just in the U.K.

The small stones effectively hide any present low-quality handiwork and protect the building from the weather. In Scotland especially, most of the homes still have pebble dash finishing. Our rendering experts handle pebble dash daily, and customers usually ask them many questions about it. Due to this, we have decided to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about pebble dash here.

What is Pebble Dashing?

Pebble dashing is an improvement of the rendering technique that was used during the Roman era, which entails speckling the exterior walls with a combination of sand and quicklime.

It is believed to have begun in the 1500s in the United Kingdom when the country was experiencing a brickmaking renaissance. Still, only a few people had the money to pay for an entire wall of new bricks apart from the extremely affluent. Roughcast also existed; a combination of stone, sand, and lime that builders plastered on top of messy brick external walls to cover the empty spaces.

Three centuries later, the roughcast captured the attention of the Arts and Crafts movement that William Morris initiated. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, C.F.A Voysey, a renowned architect, introduced pebbledash in the construction industry. He intentionally constructed structures with window frames and comices that would be visible when the dash was spread on the walls. The homes he built had a typical style of pebble dashing. Nikolaus Pevsner, an architectural historian, suggests that Voysey’s houses inspired the modernist movement because they were characterised by white paint, pebbles, and clean lines. Designers and architects who desire a durable appearance that will extend the structure’s life are usually attracted to the material’s capacity to protect the outside walls from all kinds of weather.

When World War I ended, Voysey’s habit of using pebbles in his buildings caught the attention of many people. The citizens of the country yearned for something new and trendy for their houses. Pebble dash re-entered the industry at this moment. This technique emerged when there were inadequate houses in the market, the demand was high, and houses needed to be built fast.

Pebbledash was a trick to hide the poor quality and cheap bricks used to build homes. This building material was made using pebbles collected from the sea and thrown by hand on damp cement and sand. It was also preferred because it was easier to spread than rendering or stucco, especially in places with a shortage of skilled workers.

Due to its considerably resilient and sturdy nature, it continued to be used in many buildings in the ’60s and ’70s. In the U.K, people are still using pebbledash to plaster houses nowadays.

What do people use pebble dash for?

Pebbledash is rendering builders use when constructing external walls with a rough finish due to the stone particles and pebbles in the outer coat. The builders toss the pebbledash materials and attach them before the render dries up on the wall’s surface.

Roughcast is the same as pebbledash. The only difference is that bigger pebbles are mixed into the mortar before spreading over the walls. The resultant final texture is smooth, and it’s usually drawn. The main reason for using this technique is usually to offer weather cover for homes located in the coastal regions. However, you can also find it used in majestic and traditional houses.

How is pebbledash applied on the wall?

Pebble dashing is a kind of wall coating that is usually done on external walls. Builders throw and insert pebbles into two layers of sand and lime plaster. As a result, you will have a wall dotted with smooth and tiny stones. Some home builders view pebble dashing as art, and they can make their base coat mixture. It is prudent to apply pebble dash when the weather is good so that the materials can dry appropriately.

Mix the water and lime correctly by following the manufacturer’s instructions and putting it aside for a day to hydrate or slake. Mix 1 part cement, 1 part hydrated lime, and 6 parts of sand in a mixing container. Smear the mixture using a trowel to the wall with the pebble dash. Keep the trowel level and make a flat and smooth base coat on the wall using the edge of the trowel.

Let the coat dry for one hour before you start scraping the surface with a serrated trowel to create a lined surface that will help the second coat adhere well. Wait for the coat to dry for 24 hours. Rinse your pebbles thoroughly and drain them. Please put them in a big bucket or a big flat container that you can place beneath the wall you will be pebble dashing. Prep the topcoat by mixing 5 parts sand, 1 part cement, and 1 part wet lime. This will catch the unstable stones as they drop and enable you to swiftly collect them and apply them to the entire wall. With a hand, support the bucket or tray of pebbles beneath the wall. Throw the gravel on the wall using the other hand.

When you throw pebbles to the wall, some will adhere to the wet wall, but some will fall on the plastic you have placed at the bottom. Keep tossing the pebbles to the wall until you achieve a uniform coat of pebbles all over the whole surface. Gently push the pebbles into the wall with the flat side of the trowel and then give them 24 hours to dry out.

Can you get rid of peddles dash from a building?

Sometimes, you might have a pebbled dash on your exterior wall, but you might want to change the design. Fortunately for you, this is achievable, and you have several options to choose from. One way of doing it is to remove the dash and scrape off the foundation, which is the cement you applied and pressed pebbles into when you were pebble dashing. This is doable, but it can also be difficult if you do it alone. The most advisable thing is to hire the experts to do it for you because it requires a lot of strength, and if you are not careful, you can destroy the bricks beneath the pebble dash layer.

The other option is to shield the exterior wall and do a facelift to the pebble dash. This is the best and most effortless option for you. The process involves placing insulation panels of 20mm on the outside wall and then applying coloured render. The advantages of doing this are that you can conceal the pebble dash and give your home a new look. Additionally, the insulation will make your home warmer and help you decrease your energy costs.

Is it possible to render on top of pebble dash?

As we explained in the previous answer, you can render on top of the pebble dash, though not directly. You cannot render over pebble dash because pebble dashing has a coarse finish, so before rendering on top of it, you should strip off the old finishing, smooth it or mount insulation sheets on the external wall.

Can you paint a pebble dash?

It is possible to paint pebble dashing using regular paint, but it can be challenging due to the dash’s texture. It can be hard to paint the whole wall, but you can achieve this goal with patience and the right skills and information. Alternatively, you can render the external wall and paint it using a colour of your choice.

Can water penetrate through pebbledash?

Pebble dashing rarely allows water to pass through, but it can get in if it percolates through damp-proof courses. Builders put a water additive into the render to make it harder for water to seep through. As we mentioned earlier, pebble dashing was used initially to protect homes from water damage.

Is it okay to power-wash pebbledash?

Even though the pebble dash is long-lasting, it is not advisable to wash it with a power wash because the high pressure will damage the finish by removing the pebbles and eroding the foundation. Pebble dashing doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. We recommend you wash it using warm water and a PH-free detergent and use low pressure. This method will help you eliminate the stains from your wall and make it look pristine.

What are the benefits of installing pebble dashing?

Installing a pebble dash finish comes with many advantages. These include;

  • It doesn’t require a lot of maintenance – Walls with pebble dash finish are strong and don’t need much upkeep after installing them. They are the perfect finishing materials for families who don’t want to use much money building a house or people who want to build rental homes.
  • It conceals low-quality handiwork – Pebble dashing provides a protective coating to the external wall of your home. During the winter and other wet months, the pebble dash shields moisture from percolating through the wall minimising the possibility of injuries.
  • It can resist significant impact – Pebbledash is strong and can resist significant impact. Therefore, kicking a ball against the wall won’t ruin it.
  • It is beautiful and practical – The manufacturing techniques factories use to make the stone have improved. In the past, the industry used to move the products sensibly without bagging them, which exposed them to contamination before installation. Nowadays, the manufacturing company washes all materials before packaging them to guarantee that the product will be standard and safe. All items are now distributed in bags, enabling experts to work with them on-site efficiently.
  • It comes in a variety of textures and colours – Today, builders and homeowners have a variety of colours and textures to choose from because suppliers offer a great collection of assorted pebbles. Nowadays, manufacturing companies mix different colours to build nearly any colour scheme they want. There are also more coloured renders available nowadays, which helps manufacturers meet clients’ needs regardless of their colour choices. Nowadays, companies obtain aggregates from all over the world, unlike at the beginning when builders only depended on the local quarry.
  • It insulates the home making it warmer – This building method has made it possible for property owners to comply with the law regarding thermal performance. Insulating the external wall has extended the lifespan of most local authority homes. Beautiful aggregate finishing has significantly improved how certain areas look, and most of the time, it changes the atmosphere for the people who reside in the homes.

Way Forward

Designers and architects are constantly searching for things that will make a durable finish and extend the life of a house. This is the main reason they are usually attracted to pebble dashing’s capacity to protect the exterior walls of structures from all weather conditions. Pebble dashing is not just beautiful; it also offers property owners and builders a way to protect buildings.

These are the answers to the most frequently asked questions from our customers. If you didn’t know much about this building technique, now you do.

Let us know if you are thinking of installing a pebble dash in your home. Pebble dash has many benefits, as you have read, and we would like to help you enjoy these tremendous advantages, including a durable finish that doesn’t need any maintenance.

We provide pebble dashing services in the following locations:

Croydon, Reigate, Wandsworth, London, Kingston, New Malden, Mitcham, Thornton Heath, Sutton, Crystal Palace