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Special finishes solve building owners' problems.

As Mark Twain once remarked that "... reports of my death have been grossly exaggerated," so, too, have reports of plastering's death, due to costliness, lack of artisans and un-competitiveness, been equally exaggerated.

The difficulty of readily seeing plasterers' contributions to today's construction projects is that the face of plastering has changed so dramatically.

Today, the mental picture of a plasterer in his white work shirt and overalls with plaster residue smeared almost artfully over his studied face planning his next pass, has been replaced by the equally studied faces of tradespersons whose "artistry" with hoses, spray guns and/or trowels is now being seen applying a whole host of special finishes.

In New York City, the Plasterers' Union has an active and continuing apprenticeship program turning out contemporary young plasterers.

Nevertheless, to meet market demands, nearly 50% of the union's membership devote their skills to the application of special finishes.

Spray fireproofing, acoustical plaster, sprayed acoustical and thermal insulation, spray texturing and cementitious exterior walls are some of the most important special finishes that protect or solve problems in today's modern buildings.

An acoustical plaster is one of the easiest special finishes to understand.

Sprayed-on acoustical plastering and insulation help architects solve the problem of reducing the high level of noise inherent in many building projects from tunnels and theaters to arenas and boiler rooms.

Reverberation noise problems can be significantly reduced by a layer of acoustical/thermal insulation. If necessary, acoustical/thermal insulation can be applied up to 4" thick.

Its standard colors are white, black, gray and tan, but it can also be specially-colored to whatever shade is required, if aesthetics is an issue.

Old plastering that's already in place not working well? Not a problem! Specially-mixed acoustical/thermal insulation compounds are available that can be applied directly over 15-25 year-old existing plastering, and the new application will work just fine. If heat loss is a greater problem than sound, a uniform coat of spray insulation can significantly reduce heat loss with R values up to 20 or better.

Another special finish, spray fireproofing, comes in a variety of forms and applications, according to a building's need.

Originally developed in 1950, this special coating has become an American standard for fireproofing steel-framed buildings economically, safely and effectively.

Spray fireproofing accounts for nearly 70% of all special finishes work today. It has become an American standard, because it can provide whatever degree of fire retardation an architect/ engineer requires, without adding any significant weight to the building.

In addition, the normal degree of fire retardation, now called for in most building specifications, can be met by spray fireproofing and would add under 1% to the total project cost.

Virtually 100% of all commercial and municipal buildings built today that have sprinkler systems are also protected by spray fireproofing to one degree or another. Spray fireproofing (passive fire protection), combined with sprinkler system (active fire protection), offer total fire protection.

Where really special fireproofing is required, an intumescent fire retardation coating is the answer. Intumescent fireproofing was developed for locations where there is not a lot of space available for fireproofing; where it might be exposed to the environment, and where an exposed structural look is an architectural requirement.

This form of fireproofing is so thin that its thickness, for all of its advantages, can be measured in mils (1/1000 of 1").

Cementitious or stucco-like exterior wall panels (or whole walls!) are an example of special finishes on a large scale.

This type of exterior wall treatment, whether sprayed or troweled on, results in a highly textured, very architecturally attractive finish.

Used on everything from Manhattan high-risers to parking garages, this type of exterior wall is extremely durable, and weathers extraordinarily well.

Buildings completed 25+ years ago with such finishes have withstood the test of time and look as contemporary, fresh and attractive today as the day they were built.

The face of today's plasterer has, indeed, changed. He/she may be the artisan building the decorative molding you've always admired ... the skilled worker applying the coat of fireproofing ... the involved tradesperson helping you enjoy a concert through better acoustical treatment ... or even that person working off a scaffold building an exterior wall.

But one thing is for sure--the face of today's plasterer is probably your neighbor's face, because the American plasterer is alive and well, thank you!
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Title Annotation:Inside Construction
Author:Colletti, Vincent
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 15, 2004
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