Plaster is a building material used for coating walls and ceilings. Plaster starts as a dry powder similar to mortar or cement and like those materials it is mixed with water to form a paste which liberates heat and then hardens. Unlike mortar and cement, plaster remains quite soft after setting, and can be easily manipulated with metal tools or even sandpaper. These characteristics make plaster suitable for a finishing, rather than a load-bearing material.