Plastering is a skilled DIY job that needs confidence, practice and a little insider know-how. And it’s always a good idea to start off small before attempting full rooms or a large-scale project. To help get you started, we’re giving you a starter guide on how to plaster and vital tips and tricks for first timers.
Get the right tools & supplies
As well as having the right skills, your tools will also determine the quality of your plastering work. So, before you even start, you need to get the right tools. To skim like a pro, you will need:
- Plaster beads – along with all the right tools, you need to make sure you have the best supplies to make your work look as professional as possible. Plaster beads will allow you to make your DIY plastering look as good as it possibly can by ensuring all edges are neat and straight.
- Bucket trowel – you first use the bucket trowel to scoop plaster mix from a bucket and onto your hand board or hawk. Your bucket trowel needs to be strong and durable to bear the weight of the scooped plaster.
- Hawk or hand board – a handheld platform for your plaster, the hawk enables you to move around with a supply of plaster close to hand so you can use the plastering trowel to quickly apply the mix across the wall.
- Plastering trowel – ideally made from stainless-steel, this trowel is your precision tool and used to apply plaster to the wall surface and then even it out for a smooth finish.
- Finishing trowel – the final essential trowel, this does what the name implies and has a wider, flatter blade so you can smooth the applied plaster for the perfect finish.
- Mixer – usually this is an electric or battery-powered handheld paddle mixer which enables you to whizz up a consistent and lump free plaster mixture.
- Water brush – this is needed to spread out or remove excess water on the surface of your freshly applied plaster. The brush is designed to retain water and can also remove any blisters from the plaster surface.
Prioritise the prep
Prepping the area is a plastering 101 skill that can be neglected, leading to uneven results. To prepare the surface you will need to ensure all wallpaper has been thoroughly stripped, and the walls are wiped down and thoroughly dry. Next you need to brush the dry surface with a hard brush to remove any final debris so that the wall is clean and smooth.
Don’t skip the primer
Priming the surface first with a PVA primer will help the plaster layer to bond securely with the wall and also prevent the wall ‘sucking’ out moisture from the plaster mix. Without a primer, the plaster can become ‘blown’ which is where the dried plaster starts to crumble and eventually fall off.
It’s all in the mix
The key to a professional looking finish is getting the right plaster mix. Always add water to the bucket first, then the plaster in a 50/50 ratio to avoid congealed plaster powder at the bottom. You can then top up with water if the mix is a little thick. The ideal consistency of your plaster mix should be so that it can sit on your angled trowel and not slide or fall off.
Take your time
Avoid rushing but go slowly, focusing on one patch at a time. Then go over that patch with your trowel to smooth it before moving on to the next patch. Then a final smooth with a damp trowel will even out any lumps for a professional finish. And do two coats of plaster, scratching – or scarifying – the first later so the second layer of plaster has something to adhere to. And you will get a super-smooth surface to be proud of.