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Parging is a simple yet effective method of providing exterior surfaces with a protective, finished coating. The term “parging” refers to a protective cementitious coating applied to the exterior of masonry surfaces, such as foundation walls. Parging creates a smooth, weather-resistant surface that improves the appearance of masonry and shields it from environmental degradation over time.

Where Did Parging Come From?

The practice of parging can be traced back thousands of years to ancient building traditions worldwide. Early constructions utilized a lime-based parge coat to waterproof foundations and finished exterior walls. In Europe and North America, parging evolved alongside the development of cement manufacturing in the late 18th century. This allowed the ingredients and techniques to become more standardized.

Benefits Of Parging

Among all the benefits of parging, the most prominent ones are:

  • Enhanced Aesthetics: Parging gives unadorned concrete or stone a unified, finished appearance without requiring the added cost and labor of laying bricks or siding.
  • Improved Insulation: The smooth coating helps prevent thermal bridging through masonry by blocking air and moisture penetration.
  • Protection Against Weather And Moisture: Its water-resistant nature is invaluable for protecting foundations against wet weather and potential flood damage.
  • Increased Durability: Parging provides a physical barrier against the environmental factors that can degrade masonry over time, including protection from wind, rain, snow, sunlight, and fluctuations in temperature.

Types Of Parging

While traditional gray cement parging remains popular, there are several options available to suit different applications and aesthetics.

  • Traditional Parging: A basic cement, sand, and water mixture that provides protection while blending into the background.
  • Acrylic Parging: Integrates weatherproofing additives into the mix for enhanced water resistance and flexibility.
  • Colored Parging: Tinted to match the surrounding area for a seamless appearance.
  • Textured Parging: Imparts various surface patterns for visual interest or non-slip properties.
  • Specialty Parging: May use proprietary blended formulations tailored for specific conditions or job sites.

Parging Materials

All successful parging projects begin with selecting the right materials. Cement acts as the binder that hardens the mixture into a protective shell. Lime can sometimes be substituted for part of the cement to enhance workability. Sand is then added to provide body to the mix while reducing shrinkage cracking as it cures. Water is needed to activate the chemical process between the cement and sand. Additional components may be included depending on the type of parging specified. No matter the application, using quality materials appropriately mixed is essential for parging to last long.

Parging Process

Proper preparation and application are critical to achieving durable, long-lasting parging.

  1. Preparation Of The Surface

  • Ensure the substrate is clean, dry, and structurally sound before application.
  • Repair any cracks or deficiencies in the existing surface.
  1. Mixing Of Materials

  • Combine full bags of dry ingredients (cement, sand, etc.) to promote consistency.
  • Gradually add water while mixing to the desired workable texture.
  1. Application Of The Parging Materials

  • Apply the first coat to the prepared surface using a trowel, float, or spraying equipment.
  • Keep the coat thin and even, working the mixture into any uneven areas.
  1. Floating

  • Level and smooth the surface of the wet coat using a wooden float.
  • Remove any trowel marks from the finishing process.
  1. Application Of Additional Coats

  • Allow sufficient drying time between coats, then repeat floating each layer.
  • Build up to the specified total thickness in multiple thin applications.
  1. Finishing

  • The final coat is finished with a wood or cork float for the desired surface texture.
  1. Curing

  • Keep moist and protected from direct sunlight for at least 5-7 days as it gains strength.

Parging Maintenance

  1. Regular Inspections

  • Conduct visual inspections annually to catch any issues early. Check for cracks, discoloration, etc.
  1. Cleaning And Repairing

  • Power wash to remove dirt, mildew, and other stains. Patch hairline cracks to prevent water intrusion.
  1. Sealing And Waterproofing

  • Apply a breathable sealant after cleaning to repel water and salt. Reapply every 3-5 years or as needed.
  1. Special Considerations For Colder Climates

  • In areas with freeze/thaw cycles, sealants provide crucial protection from moisture and deicing salts.
  • Inspect parging thoroughly for cracks after winter to repair before resealing.
  1. Prompt Attention To Issues

  • Minor problems like efflorescence can be chemically washed.
  • Deeper cracks or delamination may require cutting out and replacing affected sections.
  • Neglect can allow moisture damage beneath the surface over time.
  1. Extending The Life Of Parging

  • Consistent maintenance is important but not difficult. Proper care helps preserve its enhanced aesthetics, insulation, and durability for decades to come.

Common Parging Problems And Solutions

Every problem has a solution. Parging faces a lot of common problems, but that doesn’t mean it can not be solved.


  • Cause: Movement, drying too quickly
  • Solution: Cut out and reapply; use flexible additives


  • Cause: Moisture intrusion behind layer
  • Solution: Remove peeling areas, apply a new waterproof coating


  • Cause: Weathering, mildew growth, dirt
  • Solution: Power wash, apply lime wash or sealant


  • Cause: Water carries salts to the surface
  • Solution: Wash with muriatic acid, repair drainage issues


  • Cause: Bond failure between layers
  • Solution: Remove loose sections, thoroughly clean, reapply


  • Cause: Freeze/thaw damage, soft aggregate
  • Solution: Replace softened material, use denser mix, seal

Low Compressive Strength

  • Cause: Poor mixing or curing practices
  • Solution: Remove weak sections, repair sub-base, reapply


Parging has transformed from ancient practice to modern building essential through continuous refinement. Whether improving curb appeal, extending structural lifespan, or adapting to new performance standards – its versatility has never been more evident. When used correctly, it provides long-lasting solutions for efficiently and affordably weathering exterior surfaces.

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