If you are thinking about rendering your home, it can be overwhelming to try and make a decision because of all of the different types of render. Wet dash render can be an excellent option for many situations, and is actually one of the oldest forms of rendering. Let's take a look at what wet dash rendering is, how to apply it, and the situations where it works best.
Wet dash rendering, also known as roughcast rendering, is a render type that has been used for hundreds of years. It is called roughcast because, rather than trying to create a smooth finish, with wet dash render small pieces of gravel are mixed in with the render to provide a rough finish. It has been a popular choice in rural areas of the UK for hundreds of years (less so in southeast England) because it provides a finish that can protect the building from the elements very well.
Wet dash render is not the same as pebbledash. With pebbledash, the cement render is applied first and then small pebbles are thrown onto the wall. Whereas with wet dash render, the small pieces of gravel are mixed in with the sand and cement mix and it is all applied together. This gives a very different finish. With pebbledash, the final finish is the exposed stones themselves, but with wet dash render, the stones aren't visible. What this means is that the wet dash render can be painted and updated whenever you want (pebble dash can't be painted).
Wet dash render has been used on a variety of building types throughout its history. It is commonly found on medieval buildings in the form of rendered panels on timber-framed houses. These small panels of wet dash render highlighted the architectural features of the houses.
It became very popular during the 19th-century arts and crafts movement and was incorporated into many of the new style housing estates that sprung up over that period. It fell out of favour during the 20th century and pebbledash, in particular, started to gain a less-than-stellar reputation. It was used on a lot of the new homes that suddenly needed to be built and was chosen because there was a skills shortage at the time so other, more complicated forms, of finishing homes were harder to find.
While many people have moved away from pebbledash, wet dash rendering is still popular for a variety of reasons. Because the stones aren't visible it does give a cleaner finish and, because it can be painted, it means that the exterior of the house can be updated whenever needed or wanted.
The standard mix for wet dash render is 2-3 parts sand, 1 part cement, and 1 part small gravel mix. These are all mixed together to make the rendering mix. If you are trying to use the wet dash render to patch repair some older wet dash, you may need to use a slightly different mix so that it matches the original render. This could include using lime or even mixing some hair into the mix.
Either grey or white cement can be used. The white gives a brighter finish but it is a little more expensive. Sharp sand is usually used instead of builder's sand because the grit in it helps to repel moisture and it creates a stronger mix. The stone sizes can vary depending on what you want, but the colour of them doesn't matter because they will be mixed in and covered with the cement anyway. Many people also add a waterproofer into the mix so that moisture will be less likely to seep into the cement later.
Before applying the wet dash render, any existing damaged render needs to be removed. Then the wall needs to be cleaned. The walls are brushed with water to make them damp, but not wet. Then a base, or scratch coat, is applied, where lines are drawn into this scratch coat so that the next coat will adhere really tightly to it. The finishing coat is applied with the same thickness but the mix is often a little weaker. Then it is sprayed with water so that it doesn't dry out too quickly and crack.
Wet dash render has historically been a very popular rendering solution in the northern parts of England as well as Scotland (where it is known as harling). This is because wet dash render is the ideal solution to protect your home from the harshest of weather conditions, especially in locations where your home is really exposed. The uneven surface of wet dash render creates a larger surface area, and what this means is that water is better able to evaporate from its surface, making it less likely that it will seep into your home.
The wet dash mortar is also less prone to shrinkage when it is curing, so you are less likely to get cracks in the render. Another reason why it's less likely to crack is that it requires much less trowelling to apply. When you are trying to create a smooth surface in your render, you need to do a lot of trowelling to achieve the look. But this trowelling can create tiny cuts in the surface of the render through which water can seep in and cause cracks over time. Because you are aiming for a rough finish with wet dash render anyway, you don't need to trowel it as much and these cracks are less likely to appear. If you're concerned about the longevity of your render. then choosing the hard-wearing and durable wet dash render is a good solution.
Pebbledash will give you all the same hard-wearing properties as wet dash render. It is essentially the same, except that with pebble dash the stones are applied afterwards. But if you want to be able to update how the exterior of your home looks by changing the colour, or if you want a more uniform colour look, then wet dash is the better option.
The great thing about wet dash render is that it can hide any imperfections or old damage in the walls of your home. It can also easily be applied to walls that are curved. The render will brighten your home and make it look brand new again.
Wet dash rendering really doesn't require much maintenance at all, aside from a lick of paint every few years. It is also easy to patch and repaint if any damage does occur. This isn't always the case with other types of rendering finish, where the patchwork is almost impossible to make invisible. Once the patchwork has been done on wet-dash rendering and the wall has been repainted, it is very difficult to see where the damage was.
If you are lucky enough to live in a home with original lime-based wet dash rendering, you really should do everything you can to retain it. If it has become damaged for whatever reason, then you can get it repaired. Usually, you can get a wet dash render mix applied that is true to the original render of your home so that it ties in nicely. Whether this is adding lime or even mixing in some hair, there are ways of making the new patchwork render look just the same as the original. That way, you can keep the original look of your home, but make it pristine. Following the lines of where the old wet dash was applied will also help to keep it true to how your home would have looked when it was first finished.
If you have render that you want to cover up entirely, it is possible under some circumstances to apply wet dash render over the top without having to remove the existing render. This will depend on a number of factors, such as whether the existing render is still properly applied to the stone or brickwork and whether it has been painted. If the existing render is starting to fail then any render placed on top will also fail. The type of paintwork, if any, is also important. The new render will be adhering to the paint rather than to the render underneath, and some types of paints are better to adhere to than others.
Wet dash render is the perfect rendering solution for many situations. Especially if your property is exposed to the elements, if you want a rendering option that is durable and low maintenance, and if you want to cover up any imperfections in the walls of your home. Wet dash render is simple to apply, hard-wearing, great for repelling moisture, can be painted and updated, and can be repaired with ease.