How Do I Get Rid of Pebbledash?

by Anna Hindley

How Do I Get Rid of Pebbledash?

How Do I Get Rid of Pebbledash?

Pebbledash is perceived by many as an outdated look for a property. This is because it was frequently used during the post-WW1 housing crisis as a means of covering up quickly-built, “slap-dash” properties. If you live in the UK, you are most likely to have come across a pebbledash building and while it’s a durable building method, it’s definitely an acquired taste.

The pebbledash effect is created by applying a layer of mortar (usually sand and cement) to the external wall, and literally throwing pebbles at it to allow them to stick to the mortar. Pebbledash houses are still dotted all over towns and cities in the UK and can often have a somewhat dilapidated look.

The downside to pebbledash, and one of the reasons you may want to replace your pebbledash with render, is that over time the pebbles can drop, leaving the mortar exposed to the weather and therefore vulnerable to absorbing water and creating problems with damp. Due to its unpopularity, pebbledash can also reduce the value of a property purely for its lack of aesthetic appeal.

We’re not hating on pebbledash (much), but many people want to know how they can replace pebbledash with render. For people who have recently moved into a new home, or who are hoping to update the look of their property, re-rendering is a popular consideration. However, there is a definite gap in the public knowledge over whether you can apply render on top of pebbledash, and this is something that we are frequently asked here at the Eco Store. So, we thought for this blog post we would collaborate with EWI Store, the insulation and render specialists, to tackle the question for all the pebbledash homeowners out there.

Unfortunately, you cannot apply render directly on top of pebbledash. However, not all hope is lost, because there are a few ways around this that you may want to consider and which we will elaborate on in this blog post…

Methods of Removing Pebbledash from Your Property

As you may have realised by now, pebbledash is incredibly difficult to get rid of. You basically have three options when considering how you can get rid of it.

Option one is to attempt to hack the pebbledash off, at risk of the brickwork underneath and with no guarantee that you will be able to achieve a smooth finish. If you do decide to go for this option be really careful about who you hire to do this and make sure they are experienced in removing pebbledash. You still wouldn’t be able to apply render directly over the wall though, you’d need to apply a basecoat layer before the render.

Option two is to use levelling mortar to completely smooth over and cover up the pebbledash to achieve a clean slate. The only downside to this is that you will need to buy a lot of bags of levelling mortar to really get a smooth surface to render on. If you apply render to a bumpy surface, then you’ll get a bumpy render look.

We think that the most beneficial way of ridding yourself of the pebbledash look is by installing 20mm (or thicker, but the thicker you go the more expensive) EWI boards over the top of your pebbledash. This is actually a great option because the EWI will give you added insulation which can save you money on bills in the long run.

By installing EWI boards, you will also save time and money because hacking off the pebbledash won’t be necessary. This is down to the fact that you can simply secure insulation boards over the top of the pebble dash using adhesive and mechanical fixings. Once you have done this, you can apply the render of your choice over the top of the insulation boards and achieve a far more favourable outcome.

Which Renders Can I Use to Replace My Pebbledash?

There are so many options out there for replacing your pebbledash with render that it can be quite overwhelming. We wanted to give you a clear idea of what each render can offer you, to help you make the right choice to suit the needs of your property and own personal tastes.

Thin coat renders are a great option to go for when replacing your pebbledash with render. Because they are thin-coat, they offer a level of flexibility that ensures that your render finish stays crack-proof for years to come. Thin coat renders are also highly breathable, so they will help to prevent problems of damp and mould on your walls.

They also come in different grain sizes, which determines the textural finish that the render will offer you – the bigger the grain size the more textured the finish that you’ll achieve. If you have simply removed your pebbledash, then you may want to go for a larger grain size because this makes any imperfections in the basecoat less noticeable.

Thin coat renders:

  • Silicone/Silicone Silicate render: Silicone is a premium, modern technology render which is available in hundreds of different colours. Silicone is a very popular choice because it offers hydrophobic properties, which means that it repels dirt and organic growth – so it requires very little maintenance over the years. Silicone render is also super easy to apply because it comes ready to use, so you just apply it straight out the box.
  • Acrylic render: Acrylic render is very similar to silicone,  minus the same hydrophobic properties. It’s a solid middle-ground thin coat render because it still provides the same flexibility and low cost, but unlike the silicone, Acrylic render is great at holding onto colour pigment. This is a fantastic choice if you are looking to replace pebbledash with a coloured render.
  • Mineral render: Mineral render is a dry-mix, thin coat render. This is a very popular choice if you live in a cold or rainy climate because mineral render is extremely fast drying (you can’t apply other renders in cold/rainy temperatures because they take longer to dry). The only thing about this render is that you need to paint it afterwards with silicone paint to seal it in. This is because if it’s left exposed to the elements it can develop lime bloom due to the presence of Portland cement.

EWI Store have a really useful blog on their thin coat renders and how much you can expect materials to cost by the m2, so check out ‘coloured render cost per m2’ for an indepth idea of all the components of the system.

Thick coat renders:

Thick coat renders are far more traditional but, as the name suggests, do lack flexibility and breathability because they are applied in a much thicker layer.

  • Monocouche scratch render: Monocouche scratch render is a thick coat, through coloured render. It is more traditional, but does require extra work to install it. This is because the Monocouche needs to be applied in two passes for extra strength and cannot be applied in wet or humid conditions. Monocouche render then needs fibreglass mesh embedded within it for extra strength and flexibility (that a thin coat would already offer without the fibreglass mesh), and then once it’s dried it needs scratching back to achieve the desired texture.

So, there you have it; the best methods for replacing your pebbledash with render and the best renders to do the job.

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