Plastering Used to Terrify me, Now The Results Are Stunning

Reading Time: 8 mins

I remember the first time I have done plaster. It was a disaster. A friend of mine had a rough concept of it and was 100% sure it dries extremely quickly. Hence, we have decided we should make it runny.

Very runny…

The rest is a history, but you can trust me that nothing hurts like plaster mix inside of your eye. Since that time we have accomplished hundreds of projects and we have become incomparably better. You can trust me on this one too 😉

Before we start I would like to make one thing perfectly clear. There is no guide in the world that could replace the experience.

While we cannot really do the practice part for you we have decided to provide you with all the details you might need. So your learning curve is as easy as it can be.

Assuming you already have some DIY experience it should be fairly easy for you catch on. If not we got your back too.

Without further ado let’s dive in!

How Plastering is Done

I am sure plastering terrifies a lot of people and frankly speaking I believe there is a very good reason. First of all you need the know-how, but most importantly it’s one of these tasks that needs to be practiced. A lot. And I mean a lot.

You simply get better with every wall you make and every single move you take. Texture of your plaster mix is better, your speed and technique improve with the time.

No one was born a plasterer, but you can get it done like one.

How Plastering is Done

Before you Plaster Preparation is the key

This should come as no surprise – preparation is the key to everything. And if you have been following our blog you have seen it multiple times.

Plastering can be and in most cases is pretty messy. As a pro you can optimise to make as little mess as possible, but if it’s your first or one of the first few jobs be ready for it.

No matter how advanced you are you should clear the wall as much as you can. Surely you cannot more the pipes, but your goal should be to have as little obstacles as possible.

This way you can cover large spaces without the need to play around frames or shelves.

Another you should do is to cover the floor and remaining furniture with dust sheets or drop cloths. Plaster is mean to clean.

Once you have checked boxes on the above two you can prepare the wall to accept the plaster. Before you apply your first coat you should establish whether you have a low suction or high suction wall.

You do that by applying few square centimeters of plaster directly on the wall.

After few minutes you can check with your finger how the plaster feels. If it feels considerably drier than before you have a high suction wall and you should treat it with PVA. If it’s almost as wet as when applied you don’t have to do anything.

Why it is important? Because if you have a high suction wall your plaster will dry extremely quickly and you will not have enough time to work around it. You can fix this problem by applying PVA.

A ratio of three parts of PVA and one part of water should do the job.

Applying a First Coat of Plaster

After all of the above have been completed you can move to the next step and mix your plaster. A couple of important pro tips here. Always check the date and don’t use old plaster mix bags only because you have few spare ones from few months before.

Since it’s dry powder it has most likely sucked a lot of humidity from the air and is basically useless. Of course you can use it, but if you care about the quality my advice would be don’t.

Always add plaster to the clean, cold water and not other way around. Ideally you should use putty knife and elbow grease, but you can use drill with paddle attachment as well.

You just have to be aware plaster will set a little bit faster so you have to work quicker as well. Your plaster should have a consistency of a thick custard, without any lumps whatsoever.

Another tip I can give you is to always make sure your tools and bucket is clean.

Old plaster causes new plaster to set much faster. So it will not only ensure right drying time, but also spare you those frustrating moments when old dry plaster makes a mark on your nicely skimmed wall. Just saying.

When you have it all covered you can finally put your first coat of plaster. Put some of the plaster on your trowel with use of putty knife and apply plaster on the wall covering small spaces.

You should aim to apply thin layer of plaster, but as thick as needed to cover the wall imperfections. Work from the bottom and spread the plaster firmly upwards, holding your trowel at slight angle to the wall.

Once you have applied it, smooth it a bit.

Plastering How Long Between Coats

Your goal should be not to cover all the imperfections and finish the wall at one go. You should always aim for two coats, since the first coat should be treated as a foundation and second one as finishing touch.

Make the first coat fairly smooth, but keep in mind that the second coat is where the magic happens. Hence, don’t spend too much time on smoothing it out.

Now, there are two schools of how should you proceed with second coat.

First is you apply the second coat of plaster when the first coat is still wet. Second method is that you let the first coat to dry before applying the second coat. The latter can work, but it will be a little bit more difficult for you.

Although, I know it might sound simpler. In normal circumstances you should be able to put a second as soon as you finish with the first one.

The best way to check if the plaster is ready for a second coat is simply to touch it. It should be wet enough to leave a fingerprint, but dry enough to don’t leave other marks #plastering #homeDIY

The best way to check if the plaster is ready for a second coat is simply to touch it. It should be wet enough to leave a fingerprint, but dry enough to don’t leave other marks, for example holes.

Plastering How to Skim a Wall

Although the top coat is the most difficult applying a second coat of plaster is not much different to the first coat. The only difference is you prepare a slightly thinner and more creamy texture.

Remember to always clean your tools and bucket before mixing plaster. Especially when putting a top coat – everything needs to be perfect. Ok, maybe not perfect, but you really want to spare yourself those frustrating moments when a little crumb ruins your efforts…

Before you start skimming, or actually before plastering at all it does make a lot of sense to practice your skimming skills on piece of plasterboard. It will cost you 20 quid and save you a lot of time and emotions.

Below you can find a great video that presents you how to deal with skimming.

The key in skimming is to make it smooth by multiple trowel movements. Your goal is to make it as smooth as possible with fewest trowel marks so you don’t have sand the wall and use a filler.

If the plaster is not ductile anymore you can use water sprayer which will give you a little bit more time to smooth out the surface.

When Plastering Goes Wrong

Sometimes plastering goes wrong although you have done everything as well as you possibly could. It just happens, no biggie. Poor plaster is not the end of the world.

Below you can find some information on what can you do about it, but before that let’s have a quick look on six reasons for crappy plastering.

There can be many other reasons, but we find these most common:

  1. Using cheap tools
  2. Using old plaster
  3. Not cleaning your tools properly
  4. Skipping prep phase
  5. Rushing to get it done
  6. Lumpy plaster

When Plastering Goes Wrong

What can you do about it when the the plaster is already on the wall? First of all don’t be too critical. Usually it is not as bad as it seems and few touch ups with filler do the job.

And if not you can always put a third coat.

We hope this article got you covered. However, if there is something specific you would like to know or you feel like this article doesn’t cover everything drop us a line at or through our chat.

If you would like to get an insight on how to decorate your place check out below article.

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