Wattle & Daub: Craft, Conservation & Wiltshire Case Study
3.6 Daub
4.1 Soils
4.1.3 Strength
4.2 Dung
4.2.2 Lignin
4.2.3 Urine
4.3 Fibre
5.4.2 Renewal

Title Page Previous Next | Conservation >Defects and Decay >Maintenance

5.2.3 Maintenance

The conservation of wattle and daub relies on the ‘traditional performance’ of buildings, as described by Oxley (2003).  In practical terms, the primary consequences of this approach are the need for buildings to ‘breathe’ and to enable flexing of materials.[88]
Table 3. The visual inspection of wattle and daub.
Flaking, thin or missing limewash
Lack of regular limewashing
Cracked panel surfaces
  • Localised or general failure of render or daub.
  • Damp
  • Poor workmanship of new work
  • structural movement of the timber frame
Missing render and/or daub
  • Local failure of daub
  • Damp, frost damage or erosion
  • Delamination or physical damage.
Daub projecting beyond the surface of the frame[89]
  • Delamination, i.e. debonding from wattle or lath
  • Failure of wattle or lath
  • Poor workmanship
  • Physical damage

Inappropriate materials

Inappropriate materials

  • Water or moisture due to other building defects.
  • Loss of ‘traditional performance’.

  • Inappropriate planting or lack of weeding around footings.
  • Damp

Table 3 provides a guide to the identification of problems. Minor defects should be quickly remedied as part of an ongoing building maintenance programme. This scheme of regular inspection ensures minimal loss of historic fabric and reduces the long-term maintenance costs. Where buildings are in public ownership or managed by large organisations, there should be a documented property maintenance policy and the criteria for inspecting wattle and daub should be annexed to it.

It is essential to note that the identification of a defect does not automatically require remedial action in every case. For example, cracked daub in a sheltered internal location is unlikely to cause problems nor decay further and so may be left.

[88] Traditional performance, conservation philosophy and the use of limes are each large subjects. Further information is available from Oxley (2003), pp.71-95, Thomas, Williams and Ashurst (1992) and Homes and Wingate (1997).
[89] Exposed daub edges allow accelerated wetting of the daub, especially at the top of the panel, leading to accelerated decay.