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How To Plaster a Room

Plastering a wall is not quite as easy as 1,2,3 – and if you have a large area to plaster, it may be worth getting professional advice. But if you want to plaster a room to repair minor cracks and patches, you should be able to do it by following these simple steps:

  1. Get the right equipment.
  2. Prepare your area.
  3. Remove existing plaster.
  4. Mix your plaster.
  5. Apply your plaster.

How to plaster a room: get your equipment together

First things first, if you are attempting to plaster a room yourself it is important to have the right materials and equipment. You will probably need: a trowel – not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either – get something hard wearing with a comfortable handle; a hawk – the board used to hold the plaster (the plasterer’s equivalent of an easel); a power drill with paddle fitting for easy mixing; two buckets, one normal sized one and one big one, for mixing plaster; angle beading – if you are plastering corners; a good quality paintbrush; scrim tape (for board joints); lump hammer; chisel; dust sheets; water; rubble sacks; wheelbarrow; rags, dustpan and brush etc. for cleaning; multi-finish plaster.

How to plaster a room: prepare the area and remove existing plaster

Before you start, move all furniture out of the way and cover anything you want to protect (floors, heavy furniture) with dust sheets. If possible, remove or roll up rugs and carpets. Remove everything attached to the wall you are plastering, including skirting boards, picture rails, dado rails, existing screws and nails and, if necessary, the radiator (don’t forget to drain the radiator first and turn the heating off). Never try to remove a gas fire and if you are unsure about removing your radiator, call a plumber.

Have water ready to keep the plaster you are removing wet; this will help to prevent excessive dust. You may want to wear an eye mask and face mask to protect yourself from plaster dust.

Once your surfaces are covered, use your hammer and chisel to remove the plaster, remembering to keep the walls wet to avoid too much dust.

Depending on the surface that you are plastering, it may be quicker and easier to start with plaster board, which gives you the perfect surface to skim and is the quickest and easiest way to plaster a wall. If you are patching up a wall, there is no need for plaster board.

Once you’re ready to start plastering, attach your angle beads to all of the edges, including alcoves, fireplaces and built in shelves.

How to plaster a room: mix your plaster

Follow the instructions on the pack to mix your plaster as some brands and types of plaster vary. Use a clean bucket every time you make plaster. If you are not sure how much plaster to use, and if you are a novice plasterer, make a little bit at a time. Plaster will start drying out as soon as you mix it, if you make a small amount, you can always make more but if you make too much, it will go to waste. Remember to add plaster to the water, and not the other way around – it is important that you measure accurately. Using your drill, keep mixing until you get a smooth consistency (no lumps!!).

How to plaster a room: apply your plaster

If you have used plaster board, you will only need one coat of plaster. Scoop a trowel-full of plaster from your mixing bucket onto your hawk board. Using your trowel, slice the plaster down the middle and flick it up, so you have half the plaster on your trowel; if the plaster is the right consistency, it will not slide off the trowel.

Start at the bottom of your wall and spread the plaster evenly. Keep your trowel at an angle as if it is laid flat against the wall, it will stick. Rinse your trowel and repeat the process, until you have covered the wall.

In order for your plaster to dry without cracking, the room needs to be well ventilated and not too warm; if the room is too hot and the plaster dries too quickly, it will crack. If you are worried, you can use fans to cool the room down, or gently spray water on the plaster to stop it drying out too quickly.

When the plaster has hardened slightly but is still pliable, work the surface with your trowel, using a smooth, sweeping motion to get a good finish.

How to plaster a room: polishing your plaster

Once your plaster has dried completely, use your paint brush to flick water at the wall. Wet your (clean) trowel and run it smoothly over the surface of the plaster, using the same long, smooth movements you perfected before. This will fill in any remaining bumps and holes.

Once you have finished plastering your wall, clean off your tools, seal any remaining plaster bags, or throw them away if you won’t be using them in the next couple of months, sit back, and enjoy your lovely new wall! Prepare it for painting by coating the dry plaster in a solution of emulsion paint mixed with a little water.

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