Incredible DIY Walls: Natural Cow Dung-Clay-Straw Plaster
We did an Instagram post recently about an interesting experiment by a friend of ours, who wanted natural, non-toxic, eco-friendly paint in his home in Delhi. The idea was so successful that those walls have not required any maintenance or repainting in almost 25 years! So we thought we'd share our friend's "happy discovery" with those looking for natural, eco-friendly and sustainable home decor options.
Especially in rural India, we have been smearing and plastering our floors and walls with cow dung for ages. Cow dung acts as a natural insect repellent, and is believed to have antifungal and antiseptic properties as well. It also has excellent insulation properties: floors and walls coated with cow dung tend to remain warm in winters and cold in summers.
Google and YouTube give a number of ways to make cow dung-based natural paints. Some of them suggest using a mixture of cow dung, clay soil and lime, but this mixture may create cracks. So, our friend did the following:
Mix cow dung (1 part), straw crush or hay (1 part) and clay (or ordinay soil, 3 to 4 parts) in water and leave it to ferment. The paint is basically ready for application in 3-4 days, but the longer you keep mixing, leaving it to itself, again mixing it, churning it by adding some water to keep it continuously wet, the better are the results.
Our friend did it for 3 weeks and discovered that the results were extraordinary: the long duration of fermentation and mixing-remixing gave the paint a peculiar favicol-like stability.
Another factor was that the walls already had a fresh plaster of Badarpur or pit sand -- not ordinary sand.
Two coats of diluted or somewhat liquid mud-straw-dung mix at an interval of a few days in between did the work. The walls have remained intact for almost 25 years now!