How to plaster a wall

For most people, the thought of learning how to tackle any large-scale do-it-yourself project such as plastering a wall can be pretty daunting. However, with professional guidance and careful planning, it doesn’t have to be that difficult, and so in this article, we’ll give you everything you need to know on how to plaster a wall.

Table of contents

First Things First – Having The Right Tools & Materials To Hand

As with any job getting it right starts by having the right tools and materials ready in advance. The last thing you want to be doing is scrambling around looking for tools and materials once you’re halfway through your wall plastering project.

The Tools You Need

So when it comes to plastering a wall, make sure you have the following tools a hand trowel and bucket trowel, plasterers float, corner trowel, hawk board, two buckets, mixing stick or a paddle, adequate plaster, PVA, dustsheets, clean water, sandpaper, stepladder or stilts, and a dust mask.

Success Is In The Preparation

Along with having the correct tools and materials, the success of any job depends on the preparation and plastering a wall is absolutely no different.

So before you begin working on the wall you’re going to be plastering, you need to clear the room or at least make sure you cover any furniture and lay down dustsheets to protect the floors and collect any potential debris, dust or excess plaster.

Preparation and Plastering a Wall

Be Sure To Remove Any Dust Or Debris

The next task is to ensure that the wall you want to plaster is free of dust and that you have removed any debris; this is particularly important if you are plastering over old plaster and/ or existing plaster.

Once you’ve clean off everything, you then cover any screw or nail holes or cracks in the wall using screen tape.

If you’re plastering over newly erected plasterboards or drywall, then use the screen tape to cover all the joints between the boards.

Apply PVA To The Wall Before Your Start Plastering

PVA or Polyvinyl Acetate is basically a glue that acts as a primer to seal exterior walls, brick walls, internal walls or old damaged plaster ( you don’t need to apply it to drywall or plasterboard), which you use before you begin plastering and is applied in the same way as you would paint a wall with either a brush or a roller.

You use PVA glue before you apply plaster because it helps bond the plaster and adhere correctly to the walls and stops the plaster mix from setting at a faster rate, leaving you plenty of time to achieve the perfect finish. Remember always to read the instructions before you apply the PVA glue.

How To Mix Plaster

When it comes to mixing the plaster, you’re trying to achieve a smooth consistency similar to thick custard without any lumps. So before you start mixing the plaster and depending on what type of plaster you’re going to use – which in most cases will be Gypsum plaster, read the manufacturer’s instructions and mix accordingly.

Remember you always mix the plaster into the cold water and never the other way around and that you need to keep whisking until you get the right consistency.

Plastering a Wall

How To Apply The Plaster

Okay, so you covered the furnish, put the dustsheets down, cleaned the wall of dust and debris, masked any screw or nail holes, and applied the PVA glue as per the manufacturer’s instructions; now you’re ready to start applying the first coat of plaster.

Begin plastering by placing a small amount of wet plaster on the hawk board using the trowel and use the float to push the material from the hawk onto the wall. Spread the plaster firmly upwards and flatten the float at the end of each sweep.

Work slowly and systematically

Work slowly and systematically; you should always apply the plaster from the bottom left-hand corner and upwards, completing a whole section of the wall from bottom to top before moving on to the next area.

Always use small amounts of plaster combined with firm pressure on the float to guarantee a smooth look and avoid surplus plaster coming off the wall. Repeat this movement until the entire surface of the whole wall is covered with plaster.

Skim And Smooth The Wall

Once you have applied the first coat of plaster over the complete wall, wait about 20 minutes to let the plaster dry. Once it’s touch dry, remove any bumps and lumps by smoothing over the wall with a trowel.

Smooth all the corners along with the bottom, particularly around the skirting boards and top of the wall with the corner trowel. These are the trickiest areas to plaster correctly, so be sure you use the correct tools to even out the edges.

Applying The Second Coat Of Plaster

The second and final coat of plaster should be of a slightly thinner consistency than the first one, do this by diluting the plaster mixture with more water and then plaster a thin 2 mm layer on the wall and let it dry slightly.

The Finishing Touches

Once the plaster is slightly dried, you can polish your work. You do this by adding water to the walls using a spray bottle. Make sure to spray the edges of the plaster and then use a trowel and even pressure to smoothen out the surface with inward strokes.

Finish it by running a clean float over the entire wall to flatten any curves and bumps. When the plaster is completely dried, use clean, smooth sanding paper to remove any excess material.

Remember, when you’re plastering a wall, it’s not a race, and you don’t get a prize for finishing first. The trick to achieving a smooth finish and stopping plaster falling is to work slowly, systematically and orderly.

Time For Painting Or Wallpapering

Once your wall is dry and smooth and you’ve removed any lumps or bumps, it is now ready to be painted over or wallpapered if that’s what you prefer.

For painting, use an undercoat to prime the surface before you apply a good quality finishing coat of paint. Similarly, if you’re about to hang wallpaper, be sure to apply two coats of glue to prime and seal the surface before you start hanging the wallpaper.

If In Doubt, Talk To The Professionals

As we said at the top of this article, with professional guidance and careful planning, you should be able to plaster walls.

However, if you’re still unsure about plastering a wall or have any questions about wet plastering in general, then it’s always best to call in the experts, and by that, we mean Kyle and James, the team from  Top Gun Plastering.

As the leading firm of plasterers on the Gold Coast, they can guide you every step of the way. You can reach Kyle on 0402 621 023, James on 0415 397 830 email