Our house is covered in brown pebbledash – should we get rid of it?

We recently moved into a 1930s three-bedroom semi-detached house. It’s spacious inside and we like the area. 

Unlike some of the properties we viewed, the house has been updated to a high standard inside. 

The exterior of the property is pebbledash, which I’d say is a sandy brown colour. Our neighbours and quite a few others on the street have the same pebbledash on their properties. 

Our new next door neighbours hinted they’d prefer us to keep the pebbledash.

Time to axe the pebbeldash? A MailOnline reader is contemplating their property’s exterior

But as our house is ultra-modern inside, I’m wondering if we should get the pebbledash removed. I spotted a small number of properties in the vicinity which now have a smooth white exterior. 

What are our options for dealing with the pebbledash? Is removing pebbledash ever something homeowners can do themselves, or is is too risky?

If we get a professional to remove the pebbledash, how much would it cost? Would planning permission be required?

Alternatively, could we just render over the top of the pebbledash to create a new smooth white finish?  How would this work and how much would it cost? How durable is this option? 

Jane Denton replies: The popularity of pebbledash grew during the post-war years, ramping up in the 1920s.  

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It was frequently used as an inexpensive option to conceal ailing brickwork or shoddy workmanship and help protect homes against the elements. 

It’s much maligned and has fallen out of fashion, but perhaps we shouldn’t be so rash. 

While few will admit it, surely it’d be a shame to no longer see these sturdy, prickly weather-worn exteriors in places where they are most effective, namely coastal and rural areas.  

As your query suggests, covering existing brickwork or pebbledash with a smooth white render appears to be a growing trend. 

However, this comes at a cost and it’s important to weigh up how long this gleaming white finish will last before it needs redoing. 

As an aside, it may be worthwhile speaking to a local estate agent in order to get their view on exterior choices and their impact on property values in the area. 

We spoke to a pebbeldash and rendering expert. If you were after an entirely unbiased response, look away now.

Nicholas Sanderson, owner of The Pebble Dasher in Lancashire, says: Pebbledash is created using a traditional sand and cement mix and commonly features gravel or stones. 

Many people say it looks tired and dated. Of course it does. Most of it is about 100-years-old, so it’s no surprise it can look worn and dirty.    

It’s waterproof, which makes it incredibly strong and resilient to attack. It is notoriously difficult to remove. 

Anyone reading this who has had the misfortune of removing pebbledash will know what I am talking about – it’s bloody tough stuff. 

Pebbledash advocate Nicholas Sanderson

Pebbledash advocate Nicholas Sanderson

It is possible to remove pebbledash yourself, but this is a difficult job and proper machinery is required. If you wish to avoid damaging your property, it is advisable to get an experienced builder to help.

Before making any decision, do note that modern pebbledash incorporates specialist crushed aggregates and looks just as good as flat render when it is new.

If you go down the route of covering the pebbledash with white rendering, I’d say it could cost you 50 per cent more than just getting the pebbledash updated or remedied. 

Plus, in my experience, and some may disagree with this, you would be lucky to get all these modern renders to look good after five years. 

I cannot count the amount of properties I have converted back to pebbledash just a few years after the owner had had it flat rendered. 

Even if the render is applied properly, it is, I believe, prone to discolouring. It can look very tired after five years and worse still after a decade. 

Many of my customers complain that they have to repeatedly paint the render to keep it looking good.   

Whatever you decide to do, in most cases you won’t need planning permission to render your house, including a colour change. However, there are exceptions to this and it’s always worth checking with your council’s planning department beforehand. 

The amount it would cost you to get the pebbledash removed is variable and will depend on things like where you live and exactly how big your property is. It could cost around £2,000 to get it removed. 

To get a smooth white render finish, again the costs involved are variable, but I’d say it could set you back in the region of £8,000. 

Pebbledash has a bad reputation, but I’ve been in the business for 35 years and can tell you it is not going away. I tell all my apprentices it’s a job for life. There’s not many vocations where that’s the case. 

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