Plastering is a process that requires technique and skill. If you haven’t done it before, you should practise on a smaller area before you think about tackling a whole wall. With a little bit of practice and experience, you can build your confidence and develop the technique you need to take on a larger job. Unless you are very experienced, don’t attempt to plaster a ceiling – this is best done by the professionals.
Tools and materials
You will need multi-finish plaster and plaster tape. A large, clean bucket is needed for the mixing, as is a power drill with a paddle accessory. To apply the plaster you will need a plastering trowel and a hawk. You should also have a large paintbrush, protective eyewear, and plastic sheets to cover the floor. It can be a messy job, so it’s a good idea to wear old clothes or overalls.
Make sure the area is clear of any furniture, and that you have plastic sheeting covering the floor. Put plaster tape over any joints between plaster boards. If you plastering straight on to a wall, use the paintbrush to dampen the entire surface. This will prevent the wall from sucking up too much moisture from the plaster.
To mix the plaster, follow the instructions on the packet. Always add the plaster to the water and not the other way around. Plaster can set very quickly, so only mix as much as you are going to need in the short term. For mixing, the most effective tool is a paddle that has been attached to a power drill.
Applying the plaster
Scrape a trowel-full of plaster onto your hawk. Then, using a short flicking action, take half of the plaster off the hawk and onto your trowel. Do this by keeping your trowel wrist straight and using the hand holding the hawk to apply the plaster onto the trowel.
Working up from the bottom of the area, apply the plaster with the trowel in smooth, continuous strokes, pressing the plaster onto the wall, but keeping the trowel at a slight angle. You are aiming to achieve a layer with a thickness of 2 mm. Don’t worry too much about any little bumps at this stage, but ideally the majority of the base coat will be smooth and consistent.
Now leave the plaster to dry for at least thirty minutes, until the surface is firm enough that you can touch it without moving any plaster, although it is still likely to be a little damp. You can smooth the plaster and iron out any small bumps or inconsistencies by sweeping a clean, dampened trowel across the whole surface. Make sure that the blade is held at a slight angle, with only one edge in contact with the wall when you do this.
Then leave the plaster to dry for a further thirty minutes. You can repeat the smoothing process until you have got the smoothness you require. Finally, you can polish the surface by using a damp paintbrush. Flick water onto the wall with the brush, and use your trowel to smooth the surface, filling in any imperfections or holes as you go.