Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Mortars, plasters, and renders - Part 2

Learn about the development and use of mortars, plasters and renders in traditional Scottish structures, including innovations.



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7 weeks

Study time

Taught:27.5 hours

Self-study:16.5 hours


As a stand-alone short course:£420

Someone applying mortar to a wall

Explore the use of limes and other cementing binders in mortars, plasters, renders, harling, lime wash and plastic repairs, in traditional Scottish buildings on this short building conservation course.

What you'll learn 

Discover the history, development and use of mortars, plasters and renders in a wide range of traditional Scottish structures. This will include innovations in production and application that developed during the 19th and 20th centuries.

You'll also learn how to assess all relevant aspects of a site, including exposure levels, substrate condition, and type.

Our experts will give you guidance on the practical application of:

  • mortars
  • plasters 
  • renders 
  • traditional harling 

You'll learn the full process, from substrate preparation (vegetation removal, cleaning, cutting back stone etc) to the aftercare of cured materials. You'll also learn the technical requirements of each. 

Topics covered

  • Mortars in construction
  • Origins of limes, cement and clays
  • Plaster and render application
  • Conservation and repair methods

Course content

Hands-on workshop/lab activities

This course is taught by national and international experts, through a mixture of lectures, hands-on experience, and site visits.

Potential site visits

Final site visits for 2019 are still to be confirmed, but past visits have included: Grandison Plaster workshop, Peebles; Bannockburn House; Edinburgh Castle; Moray House, Acheson House, Holyrood Palace, Croft-an-Righ (Edinburgh); Laurieston House, Saint Andrews in the Square, Britannia Panopticon, City Chambers (Glasgow).


Short courses are not formally assessed. Students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course. Anyone looking for a formal qualification can study our full diploma course or separate units.

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