Characterisation of Decorative Portuguese Gypsum Plasters from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: The Case of the Bolsa Palace in Oporto

  • Teresa Freire
  • António Santos Silva
  • Maria do Rosário Veiga
  • Jorge de Brito
Conference paper
Part of the RILEM Bookseries book series (RILEM, volume 7)


The use of gypsum plaster for the interior coating of walls and ceilings in the Portuguese architecture was particularly expressive in the period between the eighteenth and the twentieth century. However, information about this important heritage is almost nonexistent, which is leading to a rapid loss of important patrimony. In this paper the results of the characterisation of five gypsum plaster samples from the second half of the nineteenth century belonging to the Arabian Room of the Bolsa Palace, located in Oporto, North of Portugal, are presented and discussed. XRD and TGA-DTA techniques were used to establish the mineralogical composition, and the relative proportions of the binders. Optical microscopy and FESEM-EDS observations were performed both in fractured and polished surfaces in order to determine the stratigraphy and the composition of individual layers. The results of this characterisation work showed that the plasters used were mainly composed of gypsum and hydrated lime in different proportions – a feature that was correlated with the application techniques of the decorative elements analysed – and allowed the determining of the restoration interventions they had already been submitted to. Some physical properties like the dynamic modulus of elasticity and capillary absorption were also determined, and a correlation between the results obtained was established with previous studies performed by the authors.


Dynamic Modulus Hydrated Lime Capillary Absorption Energy Dispersive Spectrometer Analysis Gypsum Plaster 
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Teresa Freire’s PhD research is being supported by the scholarship SFRH/BD/40128/2007 from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT). The authors would like to thank technicians Susana Couto and Paula Menezes from the Materials Department and Ana Maria Francisco from the Buildings Department of LNEC, for their support in the execution of the experimental work.


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Copyright information

© RILEM 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa Freire
    • 1
  • António Santos Silva
    • 1
  • Maria do Rosário Veiga
    • 1
  • Jorge de Brito
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratório Nacional de Engenharia CivilLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto Superior TécnicoLisbonPortugal

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