DIY enthusiasts who attempt to plaster themselves may encounter numerous difficulties that make the task challenging and complicated, necessitating expert knowledge to complete it successfully. There are plenty of opportunities for errors to arise during this complex endeavour, which requires significant skill and experience to complete successfully.

Plaster begins as a workable material that’s easy to apply but can quickly harden into a lumpy mass that becomes difficult to smooth out.

Don’t forget the trowel.

Selecting the proper tools for any task is vitally important. A trowel, a flat metal blade used to smooth plaster on walls, is necessary. Furthermore, investing in high-quality paint brushes that can fill holes or scratch marks quickly is also recommended.

An affordable yet high-quality bucket is also essential, since it will likely endure abuse during use and could end up cracking after only a few uses.

Starting off is best done by skimming a wall in an easily accessible place, somewhere that allows for adjustments if it doesn’t turn out perfectly. Make sure the initial skim has an even thickness of approximately 2mm; don’t stress too much over trowel ridges or gaps, as these can easily be ironed out later. Also consider installing stop beads, as this helps create neat corners more quickly.

Don’t forget the PVA.

Plastering is an intricate craft that should only be attempted under professional guidance. Without experience and training, it’s all too easy to create an unattractive finish that needs ripping up or covering by an expert.

Remember, too, to prepare the surface you’re plastering before beginning; otherwise, you could end up with crumbling plaster that needs to be scraped off; this could prove expensive and take an extended amount of time to rectify.

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Before commencing with any plastering project, always ensure your walls have been coated in PVA to reduce suction from your plaster skim coat and stop it from “drinking” water into the wall from your skim coat, which could otherwise result in cracking as it sets. Also remember to scrim tape any cracked areas and joints—something many DIYers forget, resulting in disappointing finishes that may be difficult to save later on.

Don’t forget the heat.

Plaster sets quickly and, if left to dry before being smoothed out, can leave an unattractive shiny surface, which makes removing paint or wallpaper off walls more challenging and compromises its overall effect.

To avoid this scenario, it is crucial to mix plaster thin enough that when turned upside-down, all the plaster won’t fall off of your bucket trowel. This requires practise on small sample boards before trying it with colder water temperatures.

Maintain wet tools while plastering to prevent dried plaster from drying on them and creating messy results on your wall. Keep a bucket of water nearby, and brush the trowel and hawk tools periodically with a paintbrush.

Don’t forget the water.

Mixing plaster is an integral step of the process and should always be performed using clean water. Plaster powder should always be added directly to water instead of vice versa, with constant stirring to avoid lumps. A paddle mixer would be optimal; additionally, all corners of your bucket must also be mixed by hand in order to ensure nothing has been missed.

Assuring an even and correct drying time will also ensure proper adhesion between coats, which is important; otherwise, walls with high levels of porous areas may require wetting beforehand; specifically designed devilling floats exist for this purpose, though regular kitchen forks will suffice just as effectively.

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Plastering can be a messy business, so it is wise to protect floors, furniture, etc. with dust sheets before commencing your drywalling task. Doing this will prevent unnecessary sanding later on.