Timeless Tadelakt

The ancient Moroccan technique that’s transforming modern spaces.
Jeremy Mistretta
October 12, 2023
6 min read

From its aesthetic appeal to practical advantages, Tadelakt has quickly captured the attention of the world. With the start of a waterproof membrane followed by a natural chemical reaction that renders layers of plaster hydrophobic, the tactile surfaces of Tadelakt breath life into any space. The endless design options of the traditional Moroccan plaster have transfixed the world for centuries-though recently it has entered the mainstream and is no longer solely coveted by designers. But what exactly is Tadelakt? And why can't everyone stop talking about it?

What is tadelakt?

The craft of “tadelakt” has its origins in Morocco. The word “tadelakt” comes from the Arabic verb “dlek” which means “to rub.” As the lime plaster is curing, a polished stone is used to rub and smooth the surface, and integrate olive oil soap into the material. The integration of the soap into the curing lime creates a hydrophobic layer.

Traditionally, this lime plaster system was used to keep water cisterns pure and clean. Over time, this waterproofing method has evolved and is now a timeless and cherished plaster that celebrates both form and function. It can be applied in showers, backsplashes, on countertops, and  in bathtubs

Where can Tadelakt be used?

A common question we receive from clients and students, alike. The answer is simple - in any wet area of the home.

Tadelakt is often described as 'waterproof plaster' though our team believes the most correct description is 'hydrophobic plaster.' The unique wall system is unlike the impermeable surface of shower tile. Instead the smooth surfaces of tadelakt allot for moisture to ebb and flow throughout the material, providing a true living wall system in your home.

Why do homeowners typically choose tadelakt?

Clients and students are drawn to the streamlined shower walls that grace social media and to the handcrafted aspect of the plaster.  The smooth surface of tadelakt lacks the grout lines found in traditional bathroom design and only requires squeegeeing after use. Plaster walls also provide warmth and depth to space that commonplace paint cannot match - truly only getting better with time.

Bottom line, the decision to install Tadelakt mainly comes down to style preference.  Whether clients are enthralled with clean, modern lines or enraptured with classic, weathered walls-the different forms of tadelakt can be modeled into the desired motif.

Can I install tadelakt?

The tadelakt technique, handed down verbally from generation to generation is more of a system than a product and takes years to learn and perfect. Enter the Plaster Portal. New Age Artisans is proud to have been practicing tadelakt since 2008, has completed countless showers around the Northwest, and is currently the only “tadelakt” installer in the area.  With the desire to pull back the curtain on coveted processes, our team created the ‘Plaster Portal’ - a dedication to worldwide trowel techniques and is elated with the inclusion of tadelakt.

The Tadelakt course is a one-of-a-kind mentorship program that lives inside of our growing portal and helps eliminate steep learning curves with phone and video consultations. Our course also includes a workbook and supplemental videos to enrolled students, allowing creation of their own oasis of Tadelakt plaster walls and timeless construction without years of trials and tribulations.

Where can I purchase tadelakt plaster?

Our New Age Artisans hydrophobic lime plaster system is comprised of two blends, Tadelakt and Basic.  The TADELAKT blend combines the finest carbonates to produce an unparalleled finish and is applied on top of our pliable BASE substrate.

At this time you can only purchase our New Age Artisans Blends through our website and plaster mentors. We require all purchasers to go through our corresponding plaster course; ensuring installers and students alike are well-versed in our lime plaster application.

In a world dominated by mass-produced and disposable materials, Tadelakt stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of craftsmanship and tradition.