…One of the joys of a Moroccan holiday (apart form the sunshine, the souk and the soothsayers) has to be the hotel bathrooms, with their slick, smooth and tactile walls. It’s all down to the ancient art of tadelakt. Although the finnish looks a bit like modern, industrial concrete, this plastering technique has been around for 2,000 years, with the world’s first wet rooms found in the riads and hammams of Marrakesh.
It’s no coincidence that tadelakt is popular in contemporary bathrooms due to its clean and naturally waterproof make-up. After multiple applications of lime plaster (it’s built up layer by layer), the surface is compressed and polished with a stone, followed up by an all-over rub down with olive-oil soap. This creates the chemical reaction that hardens it to create a watertight finish.
Although in certain parts of the world the technique has never really gone away, the velvet finish of tadelakt is having a movement to the West. We’re putting this down to our current love of luxury, minimalism and rustic craftsmanship, all of which it has in spades. Even though tadelakt has been around since Jesus, it still does its job and does it well. What more can you ask of a classic?
To find a specialst tadelakt plasterer, try Tadelakt London…
Living Etc Magazine, March 2015, “Tadalekt plaster” article (Words Charlotte Luxford, Photography Paul Massey), page 132: