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How to plaster

Looking to get smooth walls in your home? Find out how to plaster.

Once the building work is done, the next step to making a space feel more like a room is to plaster the walls.

There’s no doubt that plastering is very technical and to achieve a perfect finish, it is best to consult a professional. But if you want to give it a go yourself, we’ve put together a detailed how to guide below.

Tools required for the job:

  • Plastering trowel
  • Plastering hawk board
  • Paddle mixer
  • Bucket
  • Plaster of your choice
  • PVA glue
  • Roller
  • Water
  • Dust sheets

plastering tools

How to plaster a wall

Plastering a wall takes skill and like most things, practice makes perfect. If you’d like to give it a go yourself, follow these steps on how to plaster a wall.

Step 1: Protect the surrounding area

Lay out your dust sheets on the floor and over your furniture to protect the area. As you would expect, plastering can be a messy job so it’s important to make sure things are covered properly.

Step 2: Clean the wall

It’s easy to skip this step but it’s actually one of the most important ones to complete. Wipe away any dust or debris and scrub the wall from top to bottom with a sturdy bristled brush.

Step 3: Apply PVA to the wall

Mix one part PVA glue with four parts water and use a roller to generously roll it on the wall. This is a necessary step to make sure the plaster fully sticks and adheres to the wall.

Top tip: The perfect time to apply your plaster to the wall is once the PVA coat is tacky, not completely dry. 

Step 4: Mix your plaster

Fill your bucket halfway with water and start adding your plaster. Use a paddle mixer to combine the two together.

Keep mixing until your plaster mixture is smooth and free of any lumps. We recommend that it should be the texture of smooth peanut butter.

Step 5: Apply the first coat of plaster

Use your trowel to grab your first heap of plaster and put it onto your hawk board.

Pick up a small amount on your trowel and smear the plaster onto the wall, starting at the bottom and working your way up.

Push your plaster up the wall using a gentle arc motion. Aim for a thickness of roughly 1cm.

Plaster the wall in sections, continuing to plaster from bottom to top.

Step 6: Smooth out

Once you’ve got the plaster on the wall, clear your trowel and run it over the wall in all directions until you have a seamless finish.

Make sure you’re applying a consistent amount of pressure to ensure the 1cm thickness.

Step 7: Final skim coat

Allow 20 mins or so to let the first coat partially dry before applying your final skim coat.

Your skim coat should be thinner than your first coat of plaster. Apply it in the exactly same way as before, making sure there are no obvious gaps.

Step 8: Allow time to set

Depending on the thickness and size of the wall/room as well as the temperature, plaster can take anywhere from 2-4 days to fully set.

Avoid coming into contact with it during this time. We recommend leaving it a week before applying any paint or wallpaper to complete your room scheme.

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How to plaster a ceiling

The thought of plastering a ceiling can be very daunting, probably more so than plastering a wall. But, we’ve outlined some key takeaways below.

  • Practice plastering a wall before you tackle a ceiling
  • A professional plasterer would attach a wire mesh to the ceiling joists and apply layers of plaster on top however it’s likely your ceiling will be covered with plasterboard
  • Follow the same preparation steps as you would when plastering a wall
  • Once your ceiling is prepped, pick up a small amount of mixed plaster, smaller than what you’d pick up when plastering a wall to avoid it dropping
  • Spread evenly using large sweeping strokes with the trowel angled away from the ceiling
  • Once you’re happy with your application, we recommend using a small damp brush to polish the edges and corners to avoid any gaps or cracks

How to plaster

Our top plastering tips for DIY plastering

  • To make sure dust sheets are secure, use tape to tape them to the floor
  • Always make sure to add plaster to water, not the other way round
  • To make sure your plaster is the perfect texture, place a wooden paint stirrer into your bucket and if it stands up on its own, your plaster consistency should be spot on
  • You can use a spray bottle to re-wet the first sections of plaster, meaning you can rework it to your desired finish

For best results, we always recommend hiring a professional.

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